[This post was originally written by Deek at Grounded Parents]
I have never been one to say “no,” easily, partly because there were so many things I wanted to do, and partly because I was raised on a steady diet of “you can do anything you put your mind to,” and “there are always ways to make it work.” I was raised in the time of perfect attendance awards and in a culture that prized pushing gracefully through hardship (hey midwest, I’m looking at you).
But, over the last few years, I have gotten sick more often and recovered more slowly from illnesses that were inconvenient, uncomfortable, exhausting, and either manageable or preventable had I paused for long enough to try. But, I refused to pause. I didn’t feel like I could.
Overcommitting and pushing through illness had gained me almost nothing these last few years, and had cost me a great deal in terms of health and general enjoyment of life. After it took 8 months to recover fully from a bout of pneumonia, I decided to start saying “no.”
At one level, it felt counter-intuitive: saying “yes” to opportunities is supposed to be a jumping off point for career, family and social adventure. Or so a bundle of memoirs, memes and think pieces suggest. But, it turns out that real life is not an inspirational meme, and saying “yes” doesn’t open the door to adventure. It just made me feel like I was drowning.