Friday, September 2, 2011

Just Say No!

From a young age we're taught this phrase. Don't be afraid to reject drugs. Stand up for yourself. Make it clear you're not interested. Walk away. But it seems that if you continue to apply this lesson to innocuous solicitations as you get older, you risk social alienation.

What am I talking about?

Random Kind Person: How would you like to be on The Something That Really Matters A Lot Committee this year?
Mindy: No.

Someone With No Time Constraints: We'd love to have you in the Collection of Various Sorts of Folks, we meet right after school, so surely you could come, right?
Mindy: No.

Really Cool Book-Type Person: I'm starting an adult book club, would you be interested?
Mindy: No

When you read the above statements, I kinda come off like a bitch, don't I? And while that's a debatable point, what it comes down to is that there are only so many minutes in an hour, hours in a day, days in the week, weeks in the month, and months in the year. I've got time constraints like a sassy nun's got a chastity belt, and adding more shit to the shinola in order to make nice doesn't fit into my worldview.

I started out trying to say it nicely, and be polite, the way my German momma wants me to.

Mindy: Well, that doesn't really work for me. Wednesday nights I have a knitting class. 
Gleeful Response: Oh but that's OK! We can move to Tuesdays or, meet in the mornings even!

Mindy: I'm not sure. I'm awfully busy right now.
Cheery Smile: Oh it's not all that time consuming, half hour meetings at the most!

I've even tried honesty:

Mindy: I don't think I can. See, I'm a writer, and I need that time to write.
Oblivious: You can just bring your paper and pencil with you, and write during the presentations!

So, I let my Irish side have a go and I went with the concise, slightly rude, you-can't-explain-me-away answer that those anti-drug assemblies taught me years ago: No.

While our amazing e-friendships and networking reminds us that we are not alone in our journey towards authorship, the fact remains that the act of writing is a solitary endeavor. We need our time, we need our space, we need to get into the groove and hit our stride to make the words start flowing. 

So don't be afraid that you won't be invited to the next Nice People Gathering or Coalition of Really Useful People. Stick to your guns, write your books.

12 comments:

Lora R. Rivera said...

Too true...

Sometimes, you've gotta dip into your Irish side.

I pretty much love that I'm a third-ish Irish. It explains everything ;P

Kathryn Elliott said...

Preaching to the over scheduled choir, my cyber friend! Saying no sounds simple, but carries such a stigma, especially with turbo PTO mommies and their judgmental stares of parental inadequacy. Lucky for me, I’m 100% Irish - stigma be damned! No, no…and did I say, NO! 

EEV said...

Oh, Mindy, nice people are scared of me already. They run like lightning-scared sheep, and I don't even have kids to use as an excuse. It's just that sometimes I feel like people are just trying to unburden themselves unto others, and that's just not fair.
Have a lovely weekend and Labor Day :)
- EEV

Lori M. Lee said...

Aah, totally sympathize! I have issues saying no lol. At my daughter's open house on Tuesday, I wandered over to a table and the lady there went 'HI! THIS IS ALL THE PTO STUFF YOU CAN VOLUNTEER FOR 8D' and my brain went 'OMG HOW DO I BACK OUT OF THIS? /I/ CAME OVER D8'

P.K. Dawning said...

I’ve found myself falling into the “nice girl trap.” After moving to California I struggled to make new friends. I put off writing so I could be more social, less… reclusive Alabamian stranger. But now, I catch myself wanting to say no to a particular invite, but feeling obligated to say yes. I don’t like hurting people’s feelings, but in the end I’m just hurting myself by not using that time to write. Thanks for this. It’s exactly what I needed to hear.

Bethany C. said...

Yeah, you're a total bitch. I am too, though. I hate helping other people when I've got my own stuff to do.

Rock on, you self-centered brat! :)

Riley Redgate said...

XDDD Love this post, BBC. I hate it when you finally find the perfect excuse and then the person is like "OH WE CAN WORK AROUND THAT!"

No. Stop. Go away.

Suzanne Payne said...

Oooo scary girl! You're right. As I've gotten older, I'm finding it MUCH easier to say no. ;) Unless one of the goat posse memebers wants me to write a short story for their blog contest...then I cave. LOL!

renepeterson.info said...

Rock on! If I'm feeling nice, then I say, "No thanks" with a big smile and then walk away. Hahahahahhaha!

There's too much out there to do. If we don't set boundaries for ourselves, then no one will and it will eat our very souls.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Lora - Go IRISH! I'm not sure what my fraction is, but there are moments when it doesn't even feel like a fraction :)

Kathryn - Go IRISH again! Stigma be damned indeed. We simply cannot do everything, and if something's gonna go, it's going to be something I don't give a damn about.

EEV - Nice people tend to give me a wide berth too, or at least learn to stop asking. It's the new groups I end up in (like when children pick up a new sport) that need that NO initiation :)

Lori - I would've pretended like I couldn't read, and backed away slowly.

PK - oh yes, there is a definite "nice girl trap." To avoid it's steely fangs, we must be dedicated to our bitchiness.

Bethany - UNITE!

Riley - You betcha girly. That's why you go with the simple, "No." There's really no working around that one.

Suzanne - Well, I've got a circle of friends I'll do anything for. It's not like a soft spot, I think it's just the remainder of my soul, and they managed to wiggle in there.

Rene - Boundaries for sure. Taking on too much will just weigh us down and detract from what's important - and not only writing. If I'm feeling overwhelmed I get irritated, and then I snap at EVERYONE. Not fair to anybody!

Liesl Shurtliff said...

I was away from my home for the past year and had zero friends, so I got tons of writing done. But since I returned home and I'm surrounded by friends and so many fun activities, I've been struggling to get the same amount of writing done. It's been fun but I think it's time to become a little more of a recluse.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Liesl - all the best writers were somewhat reclusive. They were mostly alcoholics too though..... :)