“No.” is a complete sentence.

I fully expected that having time off would call for a reevaluation of where I am in my life, where I’d like to be and how I’m really feeling about it.

I had a difficult time going from work mode to vacation mode.

I’m not the type of person who can just hand over responsibility and be unphased by the possibility of everything falling apart while I’m gone. I kept thinking, “If something goes wrong, it’s my fault. It was my job to set it up properly before I left.”.

This is the one disease I’ve gained by working for a small business. Growth in a small business means someone is in charge of implementing systems that will help the whole thing work smoothly. I’m one of those people in my workplace.

My need to prove myself, the things I tell myself about how I’m a quitter (that this has made me a failure in the past), and my loyalty to people I respect (wanting to make sure they’re comfortable and everyone is taken care of) have made for the perfect storm for self-deprecation and guilt if I’m not pulling 3x my weight and working an insane amount of hours.

At the other end of that, I end up thinking, “This is not efficient, it shouldn’t take me 50 hours a week to do this. This must mean I’m not doing a good job.”.

For the past few months, I’ve struggled. A lot. And I can’t seem to stop talking about it or thinking about it or writing about it, or worrying what people think and stressing that I don’t have anything to fall back on if I fail at this job.

Towards the end of this week, something clicked. And, unexpectedly, two random people have changed my life.

One is Jane Fonda. The other is Thomas Edison.

I was watching the Netflix documentary called Feminists: What Were They Thinking?, and Jane Fonda was talking about the opening titles she had to pose nude in for the Sci-Fi movie BarbarellaShe notes that she hated being naked but she trusted the director’s vision. In the end, she said, she just didn’t know how to say no. And here’s where my heart dropped. She said (and I paraphrase),

“It wasn’t up until ten years ago that I learned “No.” is a complete sentence.

No.

No explanation, no beating around the bush (so to speak). Just. No. If Jane Fonda can say it, I can say it.

As I’ve said, I have a hard time with failure. This has been the theme of my thoughts during and after sessions with a therapist. And I don’t know what brought it on. It’s not like I was heavily pushed to succeed as a child. No one punished me if I didn’t do well in school or in sports. I’m just naturally hard on myself when I can’t do something better than others or feel like I’m moving forward when I’m trying my best.

Here’s where Edison comes in.

Thomas Edison tried somewhere between one thousand and ten thousand times before creating the light bulb.

Along the way, he realized he was experimenting and not failing. It’s the same motion, but a different outlook.

Aha! I’m experimenting.

Being part of a small business has given me the platform to experiment without being 100% responsible for the outcome. Because I’m not. I’m part of a team who is supposed to support me and work with me.

Is it time to move forward and conduct new experiments? I’m not sure.

But, can I continue to strip myself of my energy and sanity for another person’s project?

No.

 

 

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

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