Don’t say no, say how can I

Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

Be Curious & Screw the Excuses

A cat is naturally curious, almost to a deathly flaw. There’s many points in life where we come across times where an excuse is exactly what it is — an excuse. Excuses are not flaws and I don’t think we should think of them as that. They’re valid reasons for why life can be challenging, but they’re not the sole reason for the challenges life throws at us. Often times, we can make the regretful mistake of letting an excuse carry the burden of our lack of happiness, success, or dreams. It’s easy to make excuses to put a week’s worth of exercising off because it rained most of that week.

Excuses are like desserts, it’s not the end of the world if you eat a few cupcakes, but they can add up. They’re tempting and they lure you in with the promise of falling without trying. Having a cupcake is alright every now and then, especially if you work it off with a healthy exercise, so I don’t think excuses are full of crap and should never be thrown out. In fact, I’m absolutely not clear of this. I make excuses just like anybody else. I can make an excuse faster than I can figure out what to get on my pizza. Actually, I could make an excuse faster than I can figure out if I’m even going to have pizza.

My point is I’m not any different from many people who let excuses into their lives and I don’t want to lead anyone who reads this on that I am. I definitely have my fair share of excuses that I’m not proud of, but I’m proud to say that I’m able to own up to them. So like a naturally curious cat, I made a 7-day challenge for myself where I couldn’t say no. And to add a cherry on the top, this challenge took place during my Phase 2 project week at Flatiron Coding school. I don’t want to bore anyone for long so I’ll share the first three days of my challenge.

Day One: Saturday

The first thing I noticed about thanks to this challenge was how much more I could do in a day than study, eat, workout, and sleep. It started with a text from my friend. “Hey, do you want to grab dinner this coming Friday?”. Immediately, I started thinking about how much studying I’ll have to do on Saturday if I decide to hangout with her on Friday. It was super clear how easy it was for me to say no because I needed to prioritize my coding bootcamp over dumplings with an awesome friend. But I said “Sure!”. I’ll be there, on time, present for every conversation and hungry as heck. The following Saturday? It wasn’t bad at all, I studied a little bit longer, but it was well worth the evening out with my friend.

Day Two: Sunday

It’s a “school night” and I’m focused on preparing for project week with any finishing touches on my personal knowledge about the material I had just learned about Ruby on Rails so I could feel more confident in being a knowledgable and reliable partner. The first thing I plan to do when I wake is study. Instead, my parents ended up throwing a karaoke dinner night with their closest friends. My mom asked for help preparing the food, I said yes. My dad asked for help fixing the wifi, I said yes. They ask me to sing a few songs, I agree. At this point, I start to question my work ethic. Normally I take a lot of pride in working very hard, but at that moment I felt like I was slacking more than ever. After the guests left, I was asked to help clean up. I said yes. I stayed up three hours past my normal bedtime to get the study hours that I normally put in. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. I learned that I can push my comfort zone more than I was already pushing it. Plus, I got to show off some singing skills.

Day Three: Monday

Two cohort-mates asked me to help them out with studying for the second round code challenge sometime this week. During a normal week, I totally would’ve said yes with no hesitation. During a project week where I wasn’t going to be in class for half-a-day, it was a bit of a stretch to make happen. But I refused to say no, instead I gave them the option of studying on their own until the day before the challenge and if they felt like they needed somebody to go over the material with them — then I’m there for it. On Monday I planned a two to three hour session to get this done on Wednesday and Thursday while managing my Phase 2 Project. Luckily, I was able to finish all of my core functions by late Tuesday night and wrap up some stretch goals by Wednesday. I grinded the hours on my project early in the week and made time to help a few friends out later in the week. My new mantra became “Don’t say no, say how can I?” and make it happen.

Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash

Conclusion

I learned to say “How can I help?” instead of “I’m busy” or “No, I don’t have time, sorry.” I made many others happier and myself especially. I’m proud of myself and this isn’t a challenge to me anymore, this is my lifestyle now. Full disclaimer though, I’m still going to make excuses when I see fit, but I’m going to make myself accountable for them as soon as possible. I’m human, I can’t say yes to everything, but I definitely will not be seen saying no easily. Thank you for reading!