For years, people have been telling me to say “no” to things. I do have a tendency to say “yes” so often (people pleaser, here) that I eventually hit my breaking point of “too much.” Those moments of hustle turn to an unhealthy boil and eventually boil over in an embarrassing meltdown of epic proportion on an unsuspecting victim. Example: the sixteen-ish-year-old drive thru clerk at Chick-Fil-A in the spring of 2015. I learned that new hormones + crazy training schedule + too much professional “yes” + no wallet = a cascade of tears and one free Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap with a diet lemonade.
Sweet Chick-Fil-A, where everything really is their pleasure, gave me my meal either as a generous gesture of hope or as a way to prevent me from holding up their flawlessly timed drive thru. Either way, once the emotional avalanche settled, guilt and sheer embarrassment set it. Luckily, this was the CFA in Cleveland, Georgia not the one in Gainesville where all my students worked. By the time, I reached “the tiny house experiment,” I knew that I had once again hit the familiar wall of “too much.”
Before enjoying my free meal, I called back to CFA to ask the name of the young lady whom I had just traumatized. I learned her name was Emilie and that she would be opening two mornings from now. I knew I had to rectify my behavior. Not only because I live in this tiny town with a very distinctive little yellow car, but also because it was the right thing to do.
Two mornings later, I pulled into the drive thru and greeted Emilie with a Starbucks latte purchased from inside our Ingles grocery store. I apologized for my epic meltdown and Emilie graciously accepted. But the guilt didn’t stop there. I also offered to pay it forward by purchasing the order from the car behind me. This was not an honorable or a noble gesture; it was a guilt gesture. You see this is where too much “yes” always leaves me; embarrassed, guilty, and thirty-eight dollars lighter. (And in case you are like me and are wondering how many chicken biscuits you can buy with $38, my rough calculation is 17! You’re welcome Cleveland resident).
I always wondered what it would take to push me out of this “yes” cycle. The answer: brokenness. I spent 2015 saying “yes” to everything that by the time 2016 and that chaos hit, I simply avoided opportunities. I’m sure I did physically say “no” on occasion (or texted it) where avoidance was not an option but it was just easier to stay held up in my Banks County fortress than to deal. I said “no” to lunch dates, girls’ night out, movie plans, and vacations. I didn’t run one race. No 5ks, half marathons, or adventure challenges on my bike (poor Eleanor, my bike, is still reeling from loneliness).
But 2017 is new! Whimsy is fun! One of my whimsy goals (because nothing says whimsy like goals) was to change my relationship with “yes” and with “no.” During this past Christmas break, I began creating space for my kind of “yes.” Some of my former students were home on winter break and I began making coffee dates, lunch dates, and dinner dates to fill my calendar. The truth is, I would have made a date with almost anyone. I was craving conversation. I was yearning to get out of my big empty house where the silence can be deafening.
I don’t want you to think that my husband Jason is neglectful. We haven’t really talked much about him but we are both in crazy seasons of hustle. After ten years in corporate then small business accounting, Jason took a career left turn and went back to graduate school to earn a Masters and a teaching certificate (I know! Teaching?! That’s a whole other conversation). But he also entered a season of “yes.” As much as we are different, we are both work-aholic, project-ahoic, and yes-aholic people. Currently, Jason is a first year teacher, first year club adviser, graduate student, and small business owner of a tiny tax firm. And yes, tax season is in full swing.
I do pride myself than neither Jason nor I have a co-dependent bone in our bodies, but that does come with a price. We typically spend a lot of time apart, mainly weekends. He works, schools, taxes, and takes some time for a mental health break involving golf. I have this meticulous weekend routine of cleaning my ridiculously too large house. I wash laundry, meal plan, purchase, and prep, and of course catch up with my buddy Jimmy Fallon. I typically spend my weekends relatively alone but I have a rule, don’t go more than two weekends in a row without make-up. That kind of headspace is simply not healthy.
So, how do I prevent this? I look for dates. I’m always trying to make plans. I’m an extravert, make-plans, kind-of-gal. But adults are hard to make plans around. From recent results, I have discovered that my adult friends are three times more likely to cancel date plans that my teenage, college student friends. I know there are multiple variables that skew this data for adults (children being the main one) but the equation still proves that adults are hard to pin down.
Regardless, I’m still choosing to say “yes.” When a first semester college student is home on winter break and requests a coffee date that eventually hits three hours, I’m glad I said “yes.” When another one feels broken and exhausted from poor choices, and poor results, and lunch becomes a one-person narrative, I’m glad I said “yes.” When a young lady flies halfway around the world and chooses to spend her precious time away from her family with you over pizza speaking about life, His word, and our passions, I’m glad I said “yes.” How many of these profound moments did I miss out on last year because I was choosing to remain in those dark and twisty spaces? The answer: too many.
For all of you with a story to tell, I’m ready to listen. I’m ready to say “yes.” To a date. To a coffee. To a heartfelt conversation about the broken spaces in our lives. “Yes” leads to adventure. “Yes” leads to restoration. Now, I know that I might not be your person. And I promise not to be offended if you don’t reach out. But I urge you, friends, to find someone and connect. Let this journey of whimsy find its way to you and let’s create a culture of “yes” to those who matter most.
Currently (I’m assuming you are reading this in real time and if you’re not, please subscribe), I’m taking a bite out of the Big Apple with eighteen high school seniors, four adventuresome adults, and three courageous coworkers who are also my dear friends. Right now it's my privilege to say a lot of “yes.” We are saying “yes” to the New York Nets. “Yes” to The Phantom of the Opera. “Yes” to China Town. “Yes” to late night treats and Times Square lights. You see, this kind of “yes” is filled of hope, life, healing, and a whole lot of whimsy.
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation