Utilizing a budget means making small choices that add up to big numbers. No impulse buys (even when it’s only a dollar or two), and no shopping where you don’t need to (don’t go down that cookie aisle or visit a shoe store). A few simple no’s can make a big difference. I know this. I LIVE this. I am often disciplined and measured with money and see how quickly things fall apart when the “yes’s” start.
This yes or no mentality applies to more than budgets. A few small no’s or yes’s add up to a life we may not realize we are choosing.
I attended my second high school for one semester. It was such a short time I didn’t really invest myself. I eventually made a handful of friends, one of which was Justin. I don’t remember his last name, but he was handsome enough to be a first-name-only type of human.
During art class Justin volunteered to be the model for figure drawing. That meant I had to stare at him for an extended period of time. Cue the sun suddenly shining through every window and bathing him in glory, while unseen angels sing harmonic oohs and aaahs. My teenage ability to instantly love and be totally obsessed with in an instant were activated.
I’m not sure how he ended up in my circle of acquaintances. Maybe we worked on an art project together, or our friends overlapped, but without being close friends we seemed to chat a lot and see each other throughout the school day often.
I’d look for him in the cafeteria. My heart would sink if he was absent for a day. I’d only go to a party if I knew his friends (and therefore he) would be there. Without telling a soul about my crush, I was otherwise consumed with him.
I walked 4km to school and back each day. In the early summer - in my thick uniform pants and long sleeved dress shirt, that walk was hot and long. One sweltering afternoon a car pulled over. I always imagined someone offering me a ride - like an oasis in the desert - but it never happened. Except today it had. It was Justin. He asked if I wanted a ride home. ME.
Let me be painfully honest about my teenage years. No one liked me. Ever. Not romantically. I’m the friend, the one of the boys, the “pretty face” and too bad about her body - girl. I can count the number of times someone was flirtatious with me or asked me “out” on one hand. When Justin pulled over it could have very well been to throw a rotten egg at me as much as it was asking if I wanted a ride. You can imagine how overwhelmed I felt when someone I liked actually showed me a kindness, or more than a kindness. I was flattered, twitterpated, and of course I answered…..
I recall laughing as I said “no” - like it was the dumbest question he could have propositioned me with. He asked again, along the lines of “are you sure?” and whatever came out of my mouth the next time was enough for him to drive away.
I beat myself up every step of the remaining miserable walk home.
Idiot. Idiot. Idiot.
Fast forward to the awkward self hating future… It’s the end of another hot school day, and Justin asks if I want to grab an ice cream.
Hallelujah chorus and sunshine and rainbows and sparkling unicorns! I didn’t scare him off when I turned down the ride home and he actually likes me enough to try again! Focus focus focus, don’t mess it up. Pull yourself together and smile and maybe flick your hair a little and…….
It flew out of my mouth as if I had no control.
He was smiling, even though I was being awful. He politely insisted, but I just kept spouting out “no” and “it’s ok”.
I won’t even tell you about the third time.
I need to be clear, I love my husband. He is the absolute love of my life. I’m not pining for Justin and what we might have had - I already have everything I’ve ever dreamed of. And more.
What bothers me about the Justin ‘saga’ isn’t Justin. It’s me. My knee-jerk reaction that’s always no. That’s always you don’t deserve it. You couldn’t deserve it.
I’m not sure if it’s the years of being in a loving relationship, the incredible family I get to spend each day with, or maybe it’s just part of getting older - but I don’t loathe myself with the same intensity I did in my youth. I hardly hate myself at all. I even find myself forcing my reaction to be yes sometimes.
I’m not talking about feeling entitled. That’s a dangerous and seriously unfulfilling way to live. I’m talking about saying yes. About trying. Exposing ourselves to failure. Exposing ourselves to success. Saying yes to Justin. Not now obviously, happily married with six kids, but metaphorically - yes.
I still naturally answer no to things before I realize what the question is, but I’m working on it. I still shoot myself in the foot when it looks like I might be successful. I self sabotage and create obstacles, but I see it now. I think I see it. I try to see it. I change it or admit that I’m not willing to change it.
I no relationships, my body, my husband, my house, my opportunities as a writer, any opportunity as a singer, I no new friendships and even old ones. I see it living like a vine. A weed that grows - overgrows - from one area to the next.
I know lives aren’t budgets but they are a series of yes’s or no’s that add up. They add up to something whether you see it or not. Whether you like it or not.
I love my life and think I’ve made a series of ‘yes’ choices that have gotten me here. I’ll be honest in saying that most of those yes’s were other-centred and were therefore easy. Easier. I still say no to myself too often. I guess I’m writing this out to say, wake up Share Bear, say yes! Just try one ‘yes’ and see where it takes you… it will probably lead to the next yes, and another and another.
Maybe you’re just like me, with a different nickname (Share Bear sucks), and you need to try your first yes. Your hundredth yes. A yes you stick with even when the worst thing happens… you start seeing signs of success. Keep yes-ing. I will too.