Why can’t us thirty-something women embrace The Power of No?
Dealing with your family when you enter your thirties is a tricky thing, but when you’re unmarried and childless it’s an experience like no other. For whatever reason your family looks at you like you are in a perpetual adolescent stage.
You’re a big teenager who they still have to nurture and boss around because if you could get your life together you’d be MARRIED by now. But at the same time you are also their fail safe — as in, “I failed to make enough money this week, can you help me?” I’ve come to resent this, but I still keep playing the role, and it really makes me wonder, “why can’t us thirty-something women embrace The Power of No?”
It’s taking me years to realize that it’s okay to say not to the people I love. I spent so many years trying to be a people pleaser and doing what everybody else wanted that I was constantly slumping my shoulders and saying, “yes,” even when I longed to scream, “no!” I think when you don’t have children, and your immediate family is still the people closets to you, that swallowing our own misery to make them happy becomes like breathing.
After all, isn’t that what nice and GRATEFUL sisters/ cousins/aunts/ friends do? But I’ve slowly come to realize that there comes a time when you have to shake the nice girl persona off and embrace the Selfish Sister within.
Case in point, last week I had been working for 80 hours straight and was exhausted. I needed a day to bond with my bed who had become merely a nap buddy, a far cry from my warm, comforting sleep companion of old. I had just laid down when my cell rang.
“Hi, it’s Your Inconsiderate Cousin. Can you please come watch My Baby? I want to go out with My Husband. We really need alone time and My Baby loves you.”
I looked at the phone. She had to be kidding? I was too exhausted for this, but she has always been a really good cousin and she sounded exhausted. It is so hard to raise kids…
I took a deep breath and opened my mouth to say, “Yes,” but another word slipped out instead. —
I couldn’t believe that the words came out of my mouth either. But what was done was done.
“I said no, is that ok?”
“Yeah, fine. You sound exhausted. I can find somebody else to do it.”
I exhaled. Was it really that simple? Could I NOT do something and the world really NOT fall apart?
It was a great lesson for me. As expendable as we all think we are the truth is we can drop dead tomorrow and the sun will still come up in the morning and all those people who can’t live with us will find a way to adjust. Just because our priorities as single women are different than our married counterparts doesn’t make our feelings, dreams or goals any less important. We matter too.
After all, how can you take care of others if you aren’t willing to take care of yourself? So, I say to you all, it’s time to stop being Pollyanna People Pleaser. It’s really not a good look.
Say it with me:
Feels good doesn’t it.
Angela N. Parker is the author of Tethered, Guardians of Destiny: The Specter of War, and Under the Hill: One Thirty-Something Woman’s Journey of Spinsterhood, Disappointment and Accidental Self Discovery. You can visit her Under the Hill blog at http://angelanparker.blogspot.com/ and her Writer’s Blog at http://theparkerverse.blogspot.com. Please send any questions/comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.