Also known as: On saying “Yes”
I started blogging about books last year in an effort to separate my posts about books from my personal blog. As a result, I also started tinkering with my Goodreads account more than the usual. After an online encounter with another Filipino book blogger through a meme I participated in, I saw that she was active at one of the Goodreads groups I had been lurking in for a while (more than a year) now. Because I felt the need to socialize then, I decided to drop in and say hi and try to make new friends.
A couple of weeks later, after posting on some of the threads and reviews with new Goodreads friends, I received an invite to the group’s second meet up. I had several reasons to say decline the invite:
- It was in a part of the city that I hardly know.
- I don’t know anyone there. Except for those exchanges online, I have no idea who they were.
- It was a rainy week, and I’ve been recovering from asthma.
- It was far. And I didn’t know anyone. Oh, wait, I said that already.
But after some thinking, researching and delaying (okay, it was only an hour of delay, but really), I said yes to the invite. I could always back out before it and give some kind of excuse you know. Then I got a reply where the sender said, “You are one of those I want to see in person! Wow! Finally, I will meet the person behind all those nice book reviews!”
Well, how could I still say no to that? :-s
So the meet-up came and gone and you know what? It was one of the best decisions I made last year. I met really good friends who share the same passion for books and reading as I do, and we even go out and do other non-reading-related stuff. They’re some of the best people I know and was I ever so glad that I said yes to that invite.
Imagine if I said no. I wonder how my life would have been today.
Remember that Jim Carey movie, Yes Man? I watched it just for laughs, but I never really thought about what the message of the movie meant. Now, some years later, I think I understand it. I used to say no all the time. I’m sorta like a homebody, you see, and I would really rather stay home and read or go online or do other things than do things I normally don’t do. I do say yes to my friends sometimes, but whenever some of them would suggest something a bit daring, I would always hesitate, think of reasons why I should go. Or, I’d say yes at first and then back out at the last minute, saying something came up. It was always that, and truth be told, I just got tired of it and wished for more things to happen in my life.
Then I started saying yes.
I can’t remember when I started doing it. Maybe it’s when I got my new job? I know I remember one of my best friends telling me, “I’m so glad you’re trying out new things” when I said I joined our department’s bowling team even if I suck at any competitive sport. Maybe it’s when I got this instinct that makes me do whatever needs to be done when no one else seems to be willing to do it. Maybe it’s connected with that feeling that tells me it’s better to go first than go last when doing things just so I can get things over with?
I don’t know. And really right now, who cares? I still say no, but I try as much as I can to say yes. Because, if exercised with right judgment and discernment1, saying yes can open your world to so many possibilities that it gets hard to imagine why you never said yes in the first place. If I hadn’t said yes, I would not have:
- Realized that I actually liked snorkeling. When my friends and I went to La Luz, Batangas in 2009, they were all planning to go snorkeling on our second day. I was planning to sit it out because…I can’t really remember the reason why. I think it was because of my fear of deep water? But when I saw that everyone was going snorkeling, I gave in to peer pressure. And I loved it. I can’t believe I even thought of saying no.
- Lost all the weight. I was planning to sign up for the gym sometime, but it wasn’t on the day I thought I would sign up. My other best friend brought me and another friend to the gym as guests, and came out as members. It would have been easy to say no to the consultant we talked to because of numerous reasons, but I signed up. Furthermore, I could have said no to the trainer and the nutritionist after they offered their programs after my free consultation but I didn’t. And if I didn’t say yes, I’m sure I couldn’t have lost all the weight I did while on program with them on my own.2
- Been promoted. Sometimes, to get what you want, you just need to make necessary sacrifices. And step up, even if you’re not sure. If I hadn’t said yes to the responsibilities that was laid out in front of me, if I didn’t say yes to handling some things at work even if it’s not really a part of my job description, I doubt I’d be where I am in my career now.
- Caught the bouquet at a wedding. I only started attending weddings recently, so there weren’t really much bouquet moments for me. During my good friend’s wedding, I stood up and dragged a friend to the dessert table during the bouquet toss to avoid being called. But alas, the groom saw us and he made me join, saying that he only gets married once so I should play along. I finally did, and guess who got the bouquet? It wasn’t a particularly life changing experience (except that my brother caught it all on tape since he was their wedding videographer), but it’s a great conversation topic. You see, “yes” moments need not be life changing or monumental — it can be simple and funny, but it makes for a good story.
There are more moments, I’m sure. The urge to say no is always there, and sometimes I still struggle with it. I always try to remember that for every yes I say, no matter how much the struggle, there’s always a big chance that I’d surprise myself. And I like surprises. :)
I’m no expert with this. I’m still learning. But I know one thing: great things, memorable things start with one word: Yes.
Lucy smiled as Alex sat down beside her, and Will gave a toothy grin. “Do you ever wonder what if?” She watched as Clare make peek-a-boo faces across the table. “What if you’d gone to that debate, won the election?”
Alex leaned over and pressed his smiling lips to hers. “Then we wouldn’t have all this.”
And this was more than Lucy could have ever dreamed. Sweeter than Southern iced tea. Bigger than Dixie. And blessed beyond the Charleston treetops.
Tonight she would put down the book and tell her son a story instead. How once upon a time a handsome football star had walked into her office and asked her to marry him. How a first lady had invited Lucy into her aristocratic family. And God had told her to just let the past go.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Because Lucy Wiltshire…had said yes.3