On September 11, 2021, I said “yes” to my best friend and now, fiancé, Cameron. It was a beautiful day filled with many of my favorite people, the sweetest poem, and a rock concert to top it off. Spending the last few weeks coming off the high of engagement, reality has settled in a bit…. I just said yes to forever.
As a people pleaser, the word “yes” is bittersweet for me. It affords the opportunity to involve myself in many things. At the same time, it leads me on a fast-track to burnout. Because I give consent so willingly, it often becomes an expectation from others that usually leaves me feeling obliged to agree. Once my “yes” becomes an obligation, it’s hard not to feel resentful. But then my desire to please others kicks back in and the cycle starts over.
It has been my mission over the last few years to break this cycle. In doing so, “yes” has become somewhat of a bad word—for better or worse. When Cameron came into the picture, you can imagine my initial fear of saying the dreaded three-letter word that promises forever.
“When you say yes to others, make sure you aren’t saying no to yourself.” –Paulo Coehlo
Saying “yes” to one thing always means saying “no” to something else. Discovering this over the last year brought a lot of freedom. To remove the burden of people pleasing, I simply need to know exactly what my yes is subsequently giving my no to. If choosing no is more beneficial in the long run, there’s no reason to feel bad for not giving consent.
Beyond discovering I can trust my gut with my “yes”, I now know that Cameron and others in my circle desire to help. They will never put me in a position that requires the rejection of something beneficial. It gives me great peace to know I have people encouraging me to be selective with my “yes”. I can lean on the people closest to help me make decisions for my betterment.
It boils down to whether I believe I’m enough. Do I think I need to do what everyone wants to receive love and acceptance? This insecurity isn’t unique to me. We all have moments where we live as though we must be constantly available to others. We think that if we don’t, we’ll let everyone down and, ultimately, be rejected. This is a lie. The best thing you can do for yourself and others is protect your “yes”. Protect it for the things that will propel you where you want to be—the things that will bring you joy, not burn you out.
I spoke that kind of “yes” just under a month ago. A yes that not only promises eternity, but also brings with it a lot of nos. There’s comfort in knowing that the yeses that come from this decision far outweigh what I may “miss out” on. I know that, though challenges and grief will still be present in this yes, there will primarily be partnership, love, and commitment. And, above all, a person who is content to let me learn how and when to say “yes”. Someone who, even when I fail, will sit with me under the stars, reveling in the life we’re making.