Deciding Yes

I have to be honest here; there was a not-so-small part of me this morning that thought about how to get out of writing this post and got stuck on How do I get myself into this stuff?!”. How am I seemingly always getting myself into things that are hard, unforgiving, weird, and entirely self-manufactured? I’m tired. It’s Sunday, and I don’t want to use my brain.

It’s easy to view this as a potential fault when in the thick of things–when it feels like a breaking point. This near-breaking point, though, is a natural part of doing anything worth doing. It happens every time, and every time, it briefly feels uniquely terrible. The urge to quit feels uniquely overwhelming. I start thinking of potential ways out that would minimize damage. I start to berate myself for saying Yes in the first place.

Sometimes, my son doesn’t want to do things that are not easy–it’s uncomfortable and scary, and there are no guarantees. It makes sense, but my visceral reaction here is to tell him that anything worth doing is hard. Easy endeavors are generally boring and not worth the time. For some reason, it can be too common to lose sight of this as an adult or feel exempt from it. Maybe because the stakes are higher, we’re more tired, it’s another hard thing on top of hard things, and we’re potentially more afraid of embarrassment if something doesn’t work out.

I’ve always been this way: building a career out of doing things and signing up for things that I technically had no business doing and signing up for. It was always exactly the wrong time personally or professionally, I was not always especially qualified, I didn’t always have the resources, I couldn’t always execute exactly the right” way, and I didn’t always properly validate an idea before I ran with it.

I agreed to be on podcasts before ever having listened to any before, I founded a conference without ever having spoken at one before, I started to write a book about something as I learned about it, I started raising leafcutter bees the same week I learned that they exist, I started growing avocado trees in Delaware USA to see what would happen, I created a community before major surgery, I don’t eat bread but started a gluten-free sourdough journey. And I kicked off this daily writing challenge when the state of my personal life is as unpredictable and scary as it’s ever been–I have no idea what each day will bring, and yet, I at least know I have to write. This is an endless list, and, at this point, the only thing I know for sure is that I will keep adding to it.

Choosing to create and sign up for things out of genuine excitement, with an attitude of Decide Yes now, figure it out later” can actually be quite beautiful. The more I think about it, the tone becomes less How do I get myself into this stuff?!” and more Of course I did this!”. Once the haze clears, there’s always a sense of pride. New relationships have been fostered, new vital lessons learned, and I feel just a bit more confident and resilient. These hard things are worth doing because they help me keep going. They are something to look forward to, they unearth new things to learn, they change my perspective, they are bonding moments, and they represent everything I enjoy most about life.

Failure is a built-in part of being prone to doing and creating and deciding Yes. Accepting this and understanding how to reframe it are crucial parts of being able to continue and move forward while maintaining excitement and curiosity. And, of course, there are times when saying No” is the right, sane, healthy thing to do. Knowing the difference is not always clear; it requires nuance, and lessons learned the hard way through lived experiences. Sometimes, it’s just a gamble, and all we can do is hope whichever decision is the best after defining what best” even means.

When I spend a few moments reflecting and scanning my memories of all these Yeses and Noes, I’ve had more regrets with the latter. Mostly, regrets around Yeses are overshadowed by what’s gained.

Luckily, some undertakings, like writing each day with friends for a month, are clear wins no matter what. I’ve loved going through this with them in real-time, getting a peek into their thoughts, and seeing where each of us has taken this project and how it all unfolded since we prepared together as well. If I were doing this alone, I know I’d have fizzled out by now. I feel inspired to match their effort and enthusiasm, which has helped me get through days like today. Even if I do end up missing a day, I’ve still gotten these benefits.

See you tomorrow over breakfast.

February 18, 2024

A tiny project byJoni Trythall inspired by friends at Wiggle Work.