More Yes? More No? Lets Call the Whole Thing Off

^^ My friend Elizabeth and I at KCon 2018. ^^

It all started during a recent quest to discover the secret to peak productivity mode. While I figured a month into this journey I’d transform into that person who wakes up at 6am to go running, in reality, I instead spent an embarrassing amount of time watching YouTube videos. One of the conundrums these videos continued to present was the idea of saying yes more versus saying no more.

This summer, the New York Times published a piece about the importance of saying no to things you’re not full-bodied, head of heels excited about. As someone who is ridiculously bad at saying no, this article struck a cord in me because it highlighted the fact that by trying to do everything all the time, I never have enough energy to hunker down and focus on the things I’m most passionate about. On the flip side, Shonda Rhimes champions in her best selling book “The Year of Yes” the power of saying yes to all things outside of your comfort zone. This also speaks strongly to me. If I had stayed in my comfort zone I would have never moved to New York, never become a journalist, never climbed Half Dome or built relationships with some of my closets friends. I’d be lost without the power of yes and yet, saying yes all the time exhausts me. So which is it — more yes or more no?

In an attempt to answer this question for myself over the last month, here’s what I’ve learned.

Comfort Zones, Like Me, Are Always Changing

New things can be hard. Events where I don’t know a lot of people, walking into parties where I don’t know if my friends are already there, planning my own birthday party, going on blind dates, joining new groups where I don’t know anyone, giving presentations at work — what these things all have in common is they are completely out of my comfort zone and can often leave me feeling incredibly anxious beforehand. Then again, not all new things or people leave me feeling this way.

On the flip side, like all great Gemini’s, I also love taking new adventures! I love traveling with friends, or by myself, to somewhere I’ve never been before. I love sharing my work with coworkers or trying a new hobby or restaurant or workout. I love planning events for friends or hosting dinner parties. I love talking to people and making them feel comfortable and learning their stories. Before becoming a journalist I would never have imagined myself cold calling people for interviews and now I don’t even think twice.

In remembering the ways I’ve evolved over the years, I’ve realized that comfort zones aren’t permanent. True, things might be outside of your comfort zone right now that doesn’t mean you can’t do them anyways. Many of the most worthwhile things are the scariest, that’s how we know they mean something to us. But it’s also okay to know when something just isn’t for you and your comfort zone. That leaves more room for you to say yes to something that does.

This summer I’m flexing my yes muscles in different directions (hello public pool visits!), but also really enjoying the sensation of saying no to things that just don’t fit me.

Yes Cannot Exist Without No

I used to believe that to step outside of my comfort zone was to say yes to everything. “Perhaps I’m just being too much of a homebody,” I’d think when friends would invite me to concerts at midnight. “Everyone in New York seems to be using dating apps so that must be the only way to meet people,” I’d tell myself. For a long time, the idea of saying no translated in my mind to missed opportunities and missed connections. I’d say yes until, like a pendulum, I’d find myself swinging into the no camp and striking out everything on my calendar. Overtime it tallied up to me feeling like I was doing too much and too little at the same time.

The fact of the matter is, yes cannot exist without no. I cannot say yes to everything and I don’t want to say no to everything either. It’s a partner dance. This year, my 2018 resolution was to simplify in order to find balance within opposites. Instead of swinging so far into the yes camp and then catapulting back into no territory over and over again, how do I make these opposites into compliments? How do I stop feeling guilty when I have to — or even just want to — say no to something? And how do I encourage myself to say more yes to things that are nerve racking but exciting?

For me, it’s been learning to give my gut some credit and trust the fact that it’s probably not lying. The gut always knows the right answer but often, I choose to ignore it and over plan. I can’t do everything at once and thus, no is necessary in order to make space for more yes’s that are right for me.

Case in point, the weekend where I went to KCON with my friend Elizabeth.

Cue the KCON Storytime

What is KCON you might be asking yourself? Well, it’s a conference that celebrates all the ways Korean music, television, and media has influenced American culture. A huge focus of it is on Kpop — which my friend and coworker Elizabeth specializes in. With Kpop fans being some of the most dedicated fanbases in the world, I wanted to observe how the fandom interacts in real life and more about this genre that has taken over YouTube.

^^ This was my excitement level after two days of KCon. I was LIVING! ^^

I didn’t know much going into KCon but that almost turned out to be a blessing. I spent the entire weekend learning something new and from people so passionate about Kpop. There is something very humbling and exciting about learning something from scratch and this feeling I had at KCon was the same excitement when I first started pottery. I watched people jump in and out of dance circles singing every Korean lyric in time. I saw fans comforting one another as they discussed mental health in the community and listened to some bomb Kpop performances at night.

The same weekend of KCon, the YouTube conference VidCon was taking place in California and this was the first time in four years I wouldn’t be attending. Even though I knew I needed a break, it was still hard to say no to VidCon. I knew I would miss seeing people I’d previously worked with and I didn’t want my coworkers to think I was a slacker, but I just couldn’t do another consecutive year of VidCon. I’m now even more grateful that I said no because this no allowed me to say yes to KCon and have an amazing new experience that taught me about a new online community.

At the end of the day, all we can do is fill our lives with the things that serve us best; an outcome achieved with an unknown cocktail recipe of “yes” and “no” decisions. If you’re like me, it’s often hard  to break from routine, including habits like saying yes to everything or putting in extra time planning something new. But the more I’ve learned to say no, the more present I’ve become within the activities I’ve excitedly said yes to! Now, when I look back at KCon, I feel most grateful to have had a friend willing to shepherd me along and also, to myself for diving into something new.

So should I be saying yes more? No more? I vote we just call the whole thing off.

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It’s That Time Again, 2018 Resolutions BABY!

There is nothing I love more than a good list. It’s like poetry to my passion planner-obsessed heart. So every year, about three weeks before New Year’s Eve, I start to brainstorm my resolutions and hopes for the new year. It’s my little way of honoring the past year (even a hot mess one like 2017) while simultaneously, and excitedly, making goals for a new 365 days.

Now, everyone has different feelings about resolutions. Some people love them, some people find them unnecessary, and some people remain critical of waiting until the new year to try and accomplish a new goal. While talking to my dad during my last trip home, he brought up the excellent point that every moment is an opportunity to make a change. And while it’s great to aspire to be better, it’s also important to not forget all the amazing things that you already are.

He then quoted “Tombstone” so it all kind of balanced out.

For the last three years, I’ve shared my resolutions on this here blog as a way of holding myself accountable. It only felt right going into this year doing the same. Plus, at the end of the year it’s fun to look back and see what got checked off (published in a new publication!) or got lost along the way (am I EVER going to make it to that graphic novel book club?). So this year, here are my four resolutions:

Simplify. 

I have a tendency to majorly overthink, overlist, and overplan. It’s exhausting and stressful and tiring. I want to do everything at once which in theory is magnificent! But by wanting to do everything, I often find myself juggling too many things and not doing any of them well. Or I’ll be so intimidated by how much I have to get done that I’ll procrastinate my time away on tiny, easy things that don’t really matter. So this year, I’m working to cut back and relax more. To take the adventure and find a better balance between hustling and being present. Like the “Magical Art of Tidying Up,” if it doesn’t bring me joy, it’s out.

Love — in all of its forms. 

When thinking about my resolutions for this year, I wanted to push myself to approach life with more of an open heart — a phrase that varies day by day. I often overthink social interactions and lament what I should have done/said/why did I say that weird joke. It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of comparisons between me and anyone else in the world writing more/traveling more/being more fit/falling in love/going to the Golden Globes. But no more! For the next 365 days (and onward!), I want to fill my days with love — in all its forms. My path and my happiness is different than yours — and that’s okay! It’s brilliant even! Right now, love for me means a lot of self-love — cooking for myself, working out, going to bed early, staying off social media– and finding ways to be there for my loved ones. Life is hard and it’s easy to stay in comfortable situations. But whether it’s making new friends or going on a date or giving a presentation at work, it’s almost always worth it.

Write everyday.

But also know when to give myself a break. Remember, creativity like everything else doesn’t grow all year long.

Read 40 books.

And when the doubts slip in and I want to give up, my 2018 guiding motto is:

Why not me?