In my early 20s, I found pride in being a yes-woman. I took on roles and responsibilities at work that weren’t mine to carry, convinced that I would be viewed as a stronger, more valued employee. I continuously gave too much and neglected my personal needs in my romantic relationships in hopes of being a more compassionate partner. Within my family, I gave myself the role of communicator due to an overwhelming feeling that everything would fall apart if I didn’t overcommunicate and placate as I went.
Over a few years, my people-pleasing tendencies began to catch up, and I felt overwhelmed by the smallest tasks and spread too thin daily. My anxiety was high as I found myself experiencing a panic attack in the office bathroom, convinced that I needed to “try harder” to solve my problems.
It took a lot of introspection and self-work to understand where my people-pleasing and inability to say no stemmed from, but it was worth every second. Now, I realize that saying no is the best course of action for me to take power back into my hands. This little word empowers me to ensure I’m caring for my needs and showing up as the happiest and most grounded version of myself daily.
No wasn’t an easy word for me to embrace. I would be wracked with anxiety when faced with a simple yes-or-no decision: continuously torn between being a “good person” and helping someone out or taking some much-needed time to care for my needs.
Saying yes felt like the right thing to do at the moment. Still, after taking a closer look at the patterns in my life, I realized it was usually causing more harm than good for my well-being. With time and (sometimes) awkward practice, I overcame my fears around saying no. I began to realize the world wouldn’t fall apart if I weren’t holding it up. No one asked me to be a yes-woman; it’s a title I unknowingly gave myself.