I am really good at getting myself out of things I want to do.
Yes, you read that right.
When I want to do something, I’m really good at coming up with all of the reasons I shouldn’t do it.
I’m good at letting myself off the hook.
Now this is not such a terrible skill to have when it comes to taking on too much work or too much responsibility or trying to do too much in one day.
Unfortunately, that’s not when I’m able to access this special gift.
Nope, I’m still great at doing too much when it comes to overworking myself or trying to cram too much stuff into one day.
I’m only able to tap into this ability when I really want to do something, but it’s not convenient or easy or familiar or comfortable.
Like anytime I’m invited to something social where I don’t know everyone there.
Or like last Saturday, which was the anniversary of the Women’s March. I really wanted to march or gather or do something, but instead I came up with as many reasons as I could to let myself off the hook and not go.
Here’s a partial list:
“The facebook link with the event info doesn’t work. It must not be happening. Can’t go.”
“It’s in a part of town that I’ve never been to. Roads might be blocked off. I might get lost. Or I might not be able to find parking.”
“I don’t have anyone to go with.”
“I don’t have a sign. I don’t have any materials to make a sign. I can’t decide what I’d put on my sign, even if I could make one.”
“It’s a Saturday morning. I like to go to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. I don’t want to miss getting my fresh veggies.”
“It’s drizzly. I don’t want Archer to be out in the rain with me.”
“I need to get home and make lunch. What if it doesn’t end at 11am like it’s supposed to?”
“The rally started at 9am. It’s already 8:45am. I’m going to be late. What if they’re marching first and I won’t be able to find them?”
A little nuts, right?
And maybe a little familiar, if like me, you have this special skill of letting yourself off the hook, too.
In the past, I often given in to the excuses and happily let myself off the hook.
There’s a whole movement these days around doing less and breaking up with being busy. There are online courses that teach you how to whittle down your to-do list and have more time to do more of what you love. I even teach a module about that in one of my own courses!
So believe me when I say, I get how important it is to sometimes say No.
I also think that if you really want to do something and you’re coming up with all of the excuses you can imagine just to not do it, you might want to look into that.
Here’s what it usually boils down to:
The thing I really want to do is inconvenient, unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or challenging.
It’s a whole lot less painful to stick with what is familiar and comfortable and convenient and easy.
And while I’m not suggesting that pain is what you’re after (I’m really, really not) I do think that it’s worthwhile to step outside of your comfort zones and try new things and actually do the things you really want to do.
Change doesn’t happen when you’re comfortable.
Transformation requires effort.
As much as you might want to change a pattern or a routine, even if they are physically harming you, it’s a lot easier to maintain a habit or a pattern or an idea than it is to change it.
What happened this weekend was different from what has gone down before.
This past weekend, every time I came up with an excuse to let myself off of the hook, I’d come back with another reason to go.
So wear your rainboots.
“But the farmers’ markets…”
Go when it’s over. Or go tomorrow.
“I don’t have a sign.”
You don’t need one.
“Really, I don’t need to go. Other people will go. Let other people rally and march today. You not being there won’t make that huge of a difference.”
What if everyone said that? Then no one would show up. Visibility matters. Being a part of something matters. Showing up matters to me.
This back and forth went on for days.
Like seriously, for days. Which is a little ridiculous. And also totally true because sometimes it take a while to talk yourself OUT of doing something you really want to do.
Until you realize that you actually want to do it.
Here’s the biggest insight I had though:
There’s nothing wrong with letting yourself off the hook. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do less. In fact, that’s a worthy goal.
What I’m interested in is choosing to do more of the things that I really want to do instead of choosing to get out of doing them.
I want to learn how to say NO to the things that might be more familiar but don’t bring me joy and say YES to the things that are hard, uncomfortable, or inconvenient, but that actually bring me profound satisfaction.
I think it’s not about just doing less for the sake of doing less so much as it’s about doing MORE of what is meaningful.
After battling with myself for several days and nearly not going, at the very last minute (like literally in the car on the way to the farmer’s market), I decided to change course and head to the rally.
I found parking not too far away and made my way to the rally. I was a little late, but it didn’t matter. The rally was small but the people there were no less passionate than they might have been in NYC or Chicago or Las Vegas or DC. I had no sign and a sleepy toddler in the ergo. I stood in a crowd of people who also chose to show up and make themselves heard. I felt like I was a part of something important – something that mattered very much to me.
I listened to the speeches. I chanted with the crowd. I smiled at other moms and dads who’d brought their kids out in the misty, gray morning. Especially the one in the photo below, wearing her own babe and holding a sign that read, “Well-behaved mami’s rarely make history.”
I knew I’d made the right choice.
And I realized it was time to make more choices like this in the future.
Well said! I identify, and so appreciate your articulating this behavior and mindset.
Love it! It’s so hard to get out to a protest by yourself. Hope you two exchanged numbers or emails. I’ve never done that myself, but think it might be a good way to get a protest buddy for the next one. I did FB friend a lady once who I met during the Women’s March Against Gun Violence. We met on the metro and walked a handful of the 26 miles together. She is an opera singer and advocate for body acceptance. Her FB posts have been enlightening, inspiring and interesting. She posts about things I don’t and I hope to see her again.
Great post Naomi — keep up the resistance. We need it in Texas!