The Art of Saying “NO!”

In honor of transparency, I am sharing with you something that I’m oddly proud of.

A criticism of my first novel – which is KIND of like a photo of myself naked hours after giving birth… but less gooey.

Before I do this – I want to say a few things.

  1.  I never EVER have been comfortable with criticism.  Honestly, I don’t think anyone is.  It makes you self-conscious and even more painfully aware of your flaws than you already are.  I have learned in this process to be OK with being uncomfortable for a couple of reasons.  The first being, I am incredibly sensitive and self-reflective.  I prefer not to be noticed in a crowd and I overthink just about everything I say or do – or I used to… it’s better now that I feel more confident within myself as a human being.  (Not just a mother).  This confidence came by way OF realizing that rejections in this process have forced me to really focus and work to improve on what I am doing.  What message I want to send and how I want to send it.  I don’t want people to just like what I write, I want it to be the best possible product I can create.  The ONLY way you can do your best, is knowing what you’re not good at.  Additionally, if you cannot accept this – then whatever it is you’re doing, simply isn’t your passion.  So you might as well shut it down.

         Moving to Louisiana felt like an out for me, in the beginning.  I thought it was going to give me a chance to start fresh and prove that my parents had not wasted thousands of dollars on a college education and my boyfriend was not wasting his time on a chick who had no goals or ambitions.  I thought I would “find myself” to be perfectly cheesy.  And I did!  But not in the ways I imagined.

I expected too much from everyone then, my husband, my family, my friends… EVERYONE except the ONE person I should have.

Myself.

I’d spent much of my life up to that point learning where I definitely did NOT belong… but that’s just it, I had NO idea what my purpose was.    It always felt like other people just had their shit together in ways I didn’t.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and you cannot have a healthy relationship with ANYONE if you don’t have a good one with yourself, first.   It’s the most important one you’ll ever have and the hardest to figure out… but once you do, all of your other ones will come so much easier.

It never occurred to me that I was a writer – I still don’t really consider myself one.  I think in order to declare yourself anything, you should maintain a steady income from it.  Which I don’t.  BUT – that’s the perk of popping babies out of your hoo-ha and your husband (thankfully) supporting your silly desires of becoming a stay-at-home/writer/mom/chef/crafter/wannabe.  NONE of which I think I’m nailing, but I DO consider myself a work-in-progress.

2.  Second thing I want to address is the title of this blog – Learning to say “NO”.  I have learned something interesting in the last year.  I am not the only woman who has trouble setting appropriate boundaries for myself which would leave me burnt out.   I think women in my generation long for acceptance and a feeling of connectedness to others.  And let me say this now – it’s 110% a confidence issue – you can tell me I’m wrong but I would bet money that I’m not.  We are willing to put aside our own happiness and goals to please someone else and, in some ways, this is very nice – you get a certain validation from doing something out of the goodness of your heart.  HOWEVER – you have to learn boundaries because as sad as this is to say, people don’t appreciate your time.  They WILL take advantage and you will be left with very few scraps of time, energy, patience, etc. for yourself, your spouse and your children and for what?  For someone to praise you for a day and tomorrow they’ll have forgotten about all the effort you gave the day before?  Maybe they’ll ask for even more, and because you said Yes then, you have to now… it’s a vicious cycle.

It’s pathetic to be perfectly honest and you aren’t doing yourself or your relationship any favors.

I am a very sarcastic person and I have a bit of a no-bull attitude HOWEVER – I like being helpful.  If I have the time or tools to lend a hand, I will volunteer.   But there came a point when I realized I was giving giving giving and I had nothing for myself.  I had interests but no time or energy to really dig into it.  So, when I finally decided to start my first novel… I knew I had to pay attention to the hours in my day and how they were spent.  I had a household to run, children to raise and a marriage at the core of all of that.  I became a stay-at-home mother with the intent to be present for my family so if I was going to embark on the journey of writing… which is time consuming, I had to feel confident enough to know that my time is mine and I don’t owe it to anyone else but ME and the people living in my home.   I had to learn to say “No” to people and they had to learn to hear it from me.

People don’t like that.

They will try to offer solutions to “your” problem… when NO it’s not a problem… it’s you deciding what you have time for and make no apologies for it.  You probably CAN do all the things – but you will get overwhelmed, you will put your sanity on the back burner and your family will suffer.  So, the choice is yours.  If you are constantly working on someone else’s dream – you’ll never achieve your own and secondarily, if you overload yourself you will end up letting someone down, and more often than not, it’ll be yourself because you won’t be the kind of friend, mother or spouse you want and need to be.

The ONLY person who can fix your problems – is Y.O.U. and the only person’s job it is TO do that is Y.O.U.  If you need help – please ask for it, but you cannot expect anything to change if you don’t put in every ounce of effort you can muster into it… it being you.

WITH THAT SAID – here is a screenshot of my first novel’s review – which I am happy with A.  Because it taught me that if I do decide to self-publish anything again, these are the things I need to be sure are present.  B.  My story was good – maybe even great so there’s a certain validation I received from a professional that I need to keep on pushing for this.  I am on my third novel and I feel and see so much growth in this one and I can only attribute that to working HARD, taking rejections to heart in a constructive way and not a personal one and not giving up on myself.

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