Saying "No" is Scary AF

For the past six months or so I’ve said no more than I’ve said yes.

I said no to offers- generous, enticing offers - that I knew deep down were just not the direction I wanted to take. And it was scary in the way that eating questionable week-old leftovers is scary. The kind of scary that makes you wonder if you’ll pay for it later.

In this age of entrepreneurship, piecing together a living by doing a lot of different things and diversifying income streams is the norm, but deciding what to say yes to is just as much of a skill. Saying yes to everything has its obvious drawbacks, but the less obvious ones tend to manifest themselves in the long run.

Does the idea have a place in my future? Projects and collaborations usually take time to develop, and I need to consider if that trajectory matches where I see myself in the coming months and years. Sure, I can’t predict the future, but I sure as hell have control in shaping it. But if I say yes to wrong ones, I’m left being pigeonholed or even worse, feeling completely uninspired and trapped in an arrangement that doesn’t jazz me out of my mind. I’m not saying I need to feel 100% about everything, but as a creative, it matters. It matters a lot.

For six months I said no and it just about broke me. I knew in my gut when I looked at where I saw myself in the future, those projects wouldn’t meet me there or help me get there. I grew balls of steel, my friends. My resolve had to grow in proportion to my nerves so I could make it through. Did I even know what a yes project looked like? I wasn’t sure. But I pushed through it for months. And in a never-ending winter of ice, no less. I’m talking like 8” inches of solid, clear ice over my ENTIRE driveway.

But slowly, very very friggin slowly, the ice melted.

And so spring has sprung, new offers have arrived, and I’ve finally started saying yes again. New projects have started - the ones that feel like a straight shot of adrenaline. I’m not sure if it’s the first bulbs popping up (Maine is so behind everyone in that dept), the lack of ice, or all the new logs I’ve been stock-piling, but I feel like I just ate an entire refrigerator full of questionable food and never yakked.

And I think we can all agree that’s a win.

Danielle Byrd