Hard to say, huh? I’ve definitely felt that way. My usual mode is to say yes to everything, and figure it out later.
But this week, I said no.
I wasn’t going to. I was just going to rearrange some things and fit it in. I had been asked to take on a revamping project for a large website and I thought it was just going to be some easy copywriting. But it turned out it was going to be a bigger job than anticipated, and while the money would have been good, it wasn’t going to further my career, nor was it going to be enjoyable to do – so to shoehorn it in was just going to create more hassle. But I had a hard time turning it down. Why? Because it was work.
I grew up pretty poor. We had a roof over our head but no money left over for anything brand-name, let alone luxuries. Watching my friends do and be and have more than I did, and seeing family worry about money, I vowed to be different. When I could take control of my future, I was going to change my situation. It meant uni, it meant working sometimes two jobs, it meant that one stint I had cleaning colonoscopes because I’d rather clean shit than worry in bed at night about bills. And to say no to work felt wrong.
But I have two small children, a regular job (that has three different compartments to it – more than enough work for one person!) and the blog and freelance writing commitments. While I felt strange about saying no to the new job, I realised I hadn’t put it in perspective. I phoned a friend, initially to ask them how much I should charge, and she ended up telling me not to take it on. And in less than two minutes had outlined for me what I had failed to see for myself. “Say no,” she said emphatically, like it weren’t no thang. “No?” I thought. “Could I?”
Well, yeah. I have always wanted to be a mum and before I had my children, I dreamed of days spent playing playdough and baking cookies and all those things you’re supposed to do while wearing an apron. And I realised I hadn’t really been taking the time to fully enjoy that at the moment because I felt like I had to take on every job that was offered to me, even though they were all coming in at once. I am super-grateful for the opportunity, so I take it all on. And while I was playdoughing during the day, I was writing at night, which is the worst time for me because I’m bloody exhuasted and not particularly inspired. And, quite frankly, would rather be reading in the bath.
So I said no, and it felt good. It frees me up for all the things I totally want to do, and I’m fortunate enough to not be in a position to worry about money. I laid that foundation before I had children, so I could take the time off to be with them and to work creatively around them with things I enjoyed, not a daily grind I would resent. I structure my time so a large part of my day is play, and work stays in its box where I have placed it. (not that it was easy, blogging and generally being online can mean it turns into a 24-hour-a-day thing if you let it.) I was surprised the other day when I asked on Facebook if there were anyone who wanted me to visit their blogs as I had half an hour spare, and a couple of people made mention of the free time. I had half an hour spare because I made half an hour spare – I consider it pretty essential! The days are long and if I don’t recharge at some point during them, then I’m likely to go mad. Burning out isn’t pretty.
So I said no. And nothing is burning. And I have half an hour spare. And playdough in my hair. You?