When I was a child, I sometimes played a game with my siblings in which I’d ask something like, “Do you want this piece of candy?”
“Yes,” they’d reply.
“Today is opposite day! Yes means no! Bahahahaha!! That means you don’t want this piece of candy,” I’d say before shoving the candy into my own mouth.
I thought back to my days of being a tiny twerp a few weekends ago when I heard someone say “Saying yes means saying no.” I’ve heard that sentence plenty of times, but that day it struck me as more profound than ever before, perhaps because I was having a terrible time saying productive yeses and necessary nos. I wrote it in my notebook. Then I was tempted to write it over and over and over again until the truth of the statement sank in enough to affect my life in such a way that I would only ever make the best choices and say the right yeses.
Saying yes means saying no. Saying yes to regular time with my journal, notebooks, and writing project ideas means saying no to just laying on the couch and watching TV or playing computer games for hours on end. Saying yes to becoming more involved in my community means saying no to whatever it is inside me that hates meetings and wants to avoid leaving the house for anything that isn’t enjoyable. Saying yes to engaging with people in healthy, supportive ways means saying no to negative behavior patterns and relationships with people that leave me drained and sad. And saying yes to hours of TV and computer games, saying yes to avoiding all that is unpleasant or boring outside my home, saying yes to unhealthy relationships that leave me without energy for the positive ones means saying no to being the person I truly want to be, to living the life I want to live.
Saying yes means saying no. I am getting better about asking myself What am I saying yes to? What am I saying no to? when I make the daily choices that will turn out to be the sum of my life. I wish it wasn’t such a struggle to say the right yeses, but I know it is bound to get easier with practice. It requires living with an intention that can be exhausting at times since I’m accustomed to acting in small (but ultimately important) ways without much thought, but it is worth it. I do not want to find out someday down the road that my whole life was opposite day and that the yeses I said were actually nos to what I wanted most.