Like my job at Splickety. That came about because I asked the founder if there was anything I could help with. So he took me up on it. And I haven’t regretted it for a moment. I’m even willing to take on more responsibility as the magazine grows because I love it and I am fulfilled by it.
Or at church, singing in the worship band or being involved with women’s ministry. I love singing, and the way the rotation works, it doesn’t take up very much of my time, so being in the band is a pleasure. Working with the women, too, is usually pretty low-pressure. I helped plan the retreat this year, and my duties were limited to making sure a couple jobs got done and MCing at the retreat itself. I have no problem being in front of people (and truth be told I enjoy being the center of attention occasionally), so it was fun.
But I have a really hard time knowing when enough is enough. I was asked about a year ago to consider helping lead the women’s Bible study, and I felt bad that I couldn’t be counted on for that, but it was a time commitment I just couldn’t make. I tried at first, but there was always something that came up, so instead of letting everyone down by not being prepared, I had to say I couldn’t commit to it.
Recently, I’ve had to make the decision to say no to something.
My darling sister-in-law talks often about setting priorities and only doing the things you actually want to do, and I admire her ability to tell people “No way, José!” so she only crams into her very busy schedule the things she actually wants and needs to do. And she does a lot. She’s one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial people I know, creating her own businesses and speaking and consulting and a host of other things on top of being an excellent wife and mother. Honestly, I don’t know how she does it. But one of her rules is to be willing to tell people she doesn’t have the time and even that she just plain doesn’t want to help with whatever they’re doing.
So, taking a page from her book, I told someone no. And I didn’t make excuses or ask my hubby to tell them he didn’t want me doing it (which I’ve done before–I’ve let him protect me by being my reason why I couldn’t take on another task). I just plainly explained why I didn’t want to continue doing the thing after the period I’ve already committed to is over.
It wasn’t freeing. It wasn’t liberating. I don’t feel refreshed.
I feel horrible and guilty. I feel like I’m letting them down. I feel like it’s my fault they can no longer do the things they want to do because they needed me to do my part so they could do theirs. I feel bad because I’m saying no to someone I love and with whom I want to maintain a good relationship. I second-guess myself because I feel like I’m quitting, and I feel like I can’t be counted on. I’m frustrated for feeling like that, even though I didn’t realize when I initially made the commitment it would be as hard on me as it is.
But despite my guilt, I know it was the right thing to do.
Selfishly, it was the right thing to do for me because committing to this thing is wearing me out. I’m already committed for a specific amount of time, and I’ll see it through because I said I would, but the thought of continuing on beyond that causes my heart to race. I am tense and frustrated and not doing the things I want and need to do. My own home and family and writing is suffering because I’m doing for others instead of for me.
Yes, I feel guilty. Yes, I feel selfish for saying it’s about me and what I want. Yes, I feel terrible about letting them down. Yes, I wish I had the energy and the desire to do it all. But I don’t, and so despite the guilt and the nagging worry about the self-centeredness of my decision, I feel good, because I’m looking forward to not being stressed and not being worn out and I’m looking forward to giving the best of myself to my family.