I feel as though there are two prevalent messages of empowerment circulating in the zeitgeist at the moment. The first is along the lines of Shonda Rhimes’ “Year of Yes,” and the second can best be summarized as “no is a full answer.” One is about receptivity, the other is about boundary-setting. Which do you find more compelling at this stage in your life? I feel I lived out the Rhimes ethos in my 20s and have been struggling to honor my commitment to saying “no” to more in my 30s.
Regardless, thinking back across the past two decades, there are many things I am happy I said yes to, and a few things I regret declining. If I could go back in time, I would urge my sixteen-year-old self to say yes to…
Any excuse to travel somewhere you’ve never been;
Volunteer opportunities at work (nearly always a good chance to get noticed);
Dancing with your husband;
Traveling to siblings living in far-flung places, or even not-far-flung places — just say yes to traveling to see your siblings, whenever you can, for as long as you can, as often as you can, full stop;
Visiting friends and loved ones in the hospital, even though you dread it;
Wedding invitations (if someone thought to include you, you should try be there);
Nightly dance party requests from your small children, who insist upon listening to “classic rock essentials” and will pout unless there is sufficient metal in the arrangement, even when you are bone-tired;
Specialty cocktails planned and mixed up by a thoughtful host;
Phone calls from siblings;
Eating at the bar at restaurants (always such an unexpectedly intimate experience);
Taking off your heels and dancing barefoot;
Opportunities to volunteer at your child’s school;
Automatic contributions to a 401K;
Invitations to toast loved ones at weddings and other special occasions — you will forever regret not speaking publicly in service of the ones you love most;
Your mother’s offer to come out to help with your newborn baby;
Four-inch-high, hot pink Louboutin mules 70% off at The Outnet (still one of my favorite pairs of shoes ever);
Requests for prayers;
Fresh flowers on a down day;
Any chance to spend time with your grandparents;
Public speaking opportunities (even when they go badly, they are incredible character-building experiences and public speaking is a skill well worth cultivating);
Nearly any occasion to hear live music;
“Will you forgive me?” from a loved one;
Dressing to the nines;
Any project that will give you face time with leadership in your place of work;
Driving with the windows down and the music all the way up;
“Will you marry me?” from your best friend.
If you could go back in time, what else would you tell yourself to say yes to?
*Things to categorically say no to: tanning beds, gaucho pants, plucking your eyebrows late at night, friendships with people who make you feel “less than,” jungle juice at fraternity parties, the urge to “be cool” in a way that contradicts who you are, going to bed angry, second donuts (will nearly always make you feel sick), mixing business with friendship, free lunches (they do not exist…).
+A learning from my 34th year: “I don’t know, and that’s OK.“
+Absolutely love this Loewe bag.
+Oo! Love these new earrings from Nicola Bathie for summer! Perfect neutral color to wear with everything.
+And my favorite shorts for us ladies here!
+Into the details and dimensions of these sweatshirts.
+A really cute beadboard nightstand for $160. Great for a little one’s bedroom!
+Have we already talked about how cute Manebi’s new-season espadrilles are?
+More great spring shoes here.