The (Potential) Joy of Saying No

 I’m a woman of many talents & strengths, but I am utterly lacking in my ability to say NO. It hurts my heart to say no to friends who want to get together; it hurts my pride to say no to an offer of work of any kind; it hurts my pleasure senses to say no to yummy food! Honestly life is painful and often I try to just avoid additional pain, which leads me to say “yes” to things that might bring me strife later on. I know you know about this!!! Am I alone?!

Before the pandemic started, I was setting a plan in motion to give a big fat NO to everyone and everything that I perceived of as relying on me. I set a long winding course to Evergreen, CO, where I planned to drive to alone via North Carolina, Tenessee, Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico (maybe more). I saved up my few pennies, sold a heap of potholders to make more, and once I determined it could really happen, I gave notice at my job. I had just started a new relationship, but I told him this was something I just had to do, and I hoped he’d wait for me. The plan was a culmination of my efforts to put myself ahead of anyone else for what seemed like the first time, to take the time to discover myself and meditate on my goals. I thought without the distraction of bosses, family members, friends, and day to day obligations, I could finally clear my head enough to figure out what it is I want from life (besides joy, I know for sure I want lots of that)!

March 15th was the big departure day - I think we all remember what was going on right around then. I left my house knowing it was a risky move, made it to my first stop, and upon waking up to the news of school district shutdowns and emptied supermarket shelves, turned right back around the next morning. I felt completely gutted. Finally I had said no to everyone else and YES to myself, and the world seemed to be mocking me with a big NO of its own. 

For the first few months I was just kind of happily numb. I was out of a job, by choice but now by circumstance. My boyfriend was furloughed and I took a lot of comfort in being able to focus my energy on him. Everyone was sheltering in place and no one had any demands for me at all. I was powerless and I didn’t have to try to say no - there was nothing to say it to. 

Cut to now: in spite of the STAGGERING, quickly rising numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths ( ) across the United States, people seem to be back to business as usual, for the most part, and I can feel the stress of it all making my very bones ache. People are back to work, and it makes it feel like we should be back to typical socializing. End of year holidays are upon us and all I want is to find ways to be with everyone I love, and give them the hats I’ve been anxiously knitting for them all autumn, and see their faces light up with joy from the love (and the wine) of it all! I just keep making plans, plans for outdoor walks, plans for indoor masked music making, plans for FaceTimes, plans to share meals, plans to get the dogs together. “People need me right now” I keep thinking. “People are struggling right now” I tell myself. “I’ll just do this and I’ll say no next time”. Next time. Next time. 

I need people right now. I am struggling. I think that’s why I can’t say seem to say no to any requests. I have this feeling that if I keep saying yes to people, one of them will figure out how to support me, how to save me. That feeling is the lie, and the truth is that I wouldn’t be struggling so much if I would just say no. I can save myself by making a choice to get what I need on MY terms (even if it means potentially -yikes I can’t stand it- letting someone down!). 

I’m really hoping that through this blog, I can find a way to say YES to offering support while saying no to all the little things. I always say yes because I believe that sharing of myself is healing to my community. When people share of themselves with me, I feel healed! I’m a healer, and I’m here for you, even when I can’t physically be there. 

Can you relate, my dears? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments, or in a private message. Find me on Instagram @penelopesingsforjoy and slide into those DMs; I’ll be here for you (even though I won’t be there 😉 I’m social distancing, damn it!) ❤️ 


  1. I relate on a visceral level. Proud of you for saying this powerful sentence. Xoxo

    1. It makes my heart sing to feel you relating. We’re in this together! Xoxo


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