Growing up I was the child that always had a packed schedule, by my own choice. During high school I would join every club, dance on the colorguard team and also volunteer with many different organizations! Then when I turned 16 I added working to the entire mix. I was on the go during those high school years and always knew I would be more successful with a packed schedule. During my undergraduate degree I worked full-time and went to school full-time. I was one of my few friends that balanced working full-time with my academics. Even at the age of 22 I was starting to notice how tired I was becoming by always running around with so many responsibilities on my “plate”. My mother would tell me I was going to run myself down. She would always say that I needed to learn to say no to others because I just didn’t have time. And also say no to myself.
Fast forward ten years later with a husband and a two-year old. My days are packed and my hours are limited. For the past two years I have struggled with finding time for just about anything I wanted to do personally for myself, which is pretty normal for all mothers. The first year of my daughter’s life I spent working late hours of the night finishing up my graduate degree. My parents would help me, as my husband was also in school at the time, with my daughter so I could catch up on schoolwork. My mother would say the same thing she has always been saying – I need to say no to extra “things” and “events” that others and even myself are asking to be put on my “plate”.
Recently, for some reason, everything started “clicking” and I was managing my time much better, between being a mommy, wife, working full-time, having a part-time job and all the other responsibilities we all have. Even though I feel like I have a better handle on my time management and everything I need to complete, I was still struggling saying no to all the extra “things” and “events”. I struggle with this because of the guilt I get from others potentially being upset with me if I say no and more importantly the guilt I put on myself.
Even more recently I was asked to be a part of something that would be a much added work load to my already full load. It is something I would love to do and in a perfect world I would have all the time to do it. That’s my problem. I want to go back to school (Ph.D program), I want to work like crazy to provide for my family, I want to travel all over with my daughter and husband exploring new and exciting things, I want to volunteer my time along with my daughter to others who need help, I want to be involved, I want to do so much. The problem is there are only 24 hours in a day, nothing more nothing less. So I said no. No, I cannot take on another responsibility. After I told the person no, I felt a bit guilty that I could not just fit one more responsibility into my schedule. I started to think over all that my mother along with others in my life have been telling me about slowing down and saying no. I finally said no and the guilt didn’t last as long as it used too. One of the reasons I felt guilty is because I did want to be involved and in a perfect world I would have been able to fit it in, somehow.
Maybe one day I could be more involved and no will become yes. There is so much I want to do and see but right now I need to focus on my current responsibilities and saying no will give me the power to complete my already full workload. So my answer to all those amazing opportunities out there that I really want to do is, “No…not right now”.