Sheryl Sandberg told us to “Lean In”; Shonda Rhimes told us about her “Year of Yes”. I see the wisdom in all that, but me, I’m a big advocate of the power of saying NO.
While it can be empowering to tackle things you’re afraid of, or move out of our comfort zones, I’ve often found that we women often go in an anodyne direction. We say yes when we’d rather say no, we do what we’d rather not, and we keep silent when we actually disagree. As I wrote in a previous piece for Like a Boss Girls, I want to refine my focus and exercise my power not by leaning in but by pushing back.
In the current political climate, it’s more important than ever that we embrace not embracing. We need to say stand up for ourselves by making clear what we’ll no longer stand for. We need to stand up for our rights and our values by refusing to stand for misogyny, bigotry, injustice, and BS in all its forms. We need to reject “alternative facts” (or as I like to call them, big fat lies). We need to stop tolerating ignorance, prejudice and indecency – especially when it masquerades as patriotism or virtue. We need to refuse to be bullied by narrow standards of female beauty and acceptability.
My wonderful mother-in-law once told me she was raised “to be seen and not heard”, and to a large extent so was I. Girls are conditioned in so many ways to not be seen as too opinionated, too aggressive, too “difficult”. You’re supposed to go along to get along. Modesty is more amiable than confidence, and coming out and asking for what you want is too much. (Is it any wonder women are accused of being passive-aggressive or manipulative when we’re conditioned not to be direct or too straightforward?) Even though I grew up aware of the “Free to Be You and Me” messaging of early feminism, it was ultimately drowned out by the subtle — and not-so-subtle – messages I received from media, our culture, and my everyday life. I’ve often been accused of being too outspoken and opinionated, of being too ready to debate political issues or philosophical ideas. When confronted by things I thought were immoral or unfair, I was supposed to keep my mouth shut or risk being unattractive and unlikeable. I was always explicitly or implicitly supposed to say yes without argument.
Well, f**k that. I’m done with yes. I’m done with just leaning in – I’m ready to stomp in!
From now on I’m going to say no to…
Feeling shitty about my body.
Yeah, yeah, the media, unrealistic standards, blah blah blah. But I have the power to say no to all that. And I can say no to crappy foods, sitting around all day, and comparing myself to beautiful, Photoshopped ectomorphs half my age.
Putting up with public servants who aren’t serving.
My taxpayer dollars (and yours) have been funding all kinds of BS in DC. Too many of our representatives have lied, secreted themselves behind closed doors, worked against women’s’ interests – hell, worked against America’s interests. I’m speaking up, speaking out, and making my voice heard.
Thinking I’m not good enough.
I’m far from perfect, and I’ve got flaws like everybody else. But I’m good enough for everything I need to do and want to do – and if I’m not, I’ll get there. And I’ll do my best to acknowledge that in some ways, I’m better than enough – in some ways I absolutely rock. (Wow, that’s a hard sentence to type.)
Maintaining toxic relationships.
As Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Friends and family who make you feel anything other than good, cut them loose. It’s hard, but I’ve found that when you let those relationships go that new, more loving ones move in to take their place. I think you’ll find this too.
Doing things the way I’ve always done them…because it’s the way I’ve always done them.
Some habits and ideas have served me, but it’s time I accept that many have not. I’m willing to leave my comfort zone and open myself up to new perspectives and new behaviors. I’m going to work to kick my lack of discipline and impulsive behaviors to the curb!
What are some of the things YOU are going to say no to in the coming months? Let me know!
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