Learning to say no

The other night, while having dinner with some friends, I chided one of them for overfilling his plate for work this semester. He said it was his idea of fun, but I reminded him of his exhaustion last semester. He wasn’t dissuaded, of course, nor is it really my place to tell him what he can and cannot do, but it made me wonder when it was that I started saying ‘no’ to commitments, for I, too, used to overwork myself.

It came out of self-preservation. On the verge of mental breakdown my final year of university, I withdrew from most of the world, it seemed. Save for a few choice friends, for the obligations necessary to graduate and my jobs (yes, note the plural), I stopped going to choir, various society meetings, and so on. The following year during my gap year I was very jealous and protective of my internal source of energy, a jealousy I took with me into my master’s programme. I had pushed myself to my uttermost limits and thus I knew my limitations. I was, and am, determined to never let that happen again.

I’m healthier in mind and soul now, and so I am letting myself take on more commitments, but I still look at my diary and say, ‘No, I need an evening at home. I need to be able to sit in quiet and read a book and not talk to anyone.’ I need time to think my own thoughts in solitude. I am an introvert, after all.

But self-preservation isn’t the only reason I’ve started to slow down. Ironically, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised I’m in no hurry. I don’t have to finish my PhD, publish my thesis, write my magnum opus science fiction novel, publish the Pooka novels, travel the world, and everything else, by the time I’m thirty. Lord willing, I have a full life ahead of me, and time to do and learn all the things I want to do and learn. So trust, also, is why I’ve started to slow down: trusting in the Lord that there will be a tomorrow, that his mercies are new every morning, that there will be time to do the things I want to do to live a full and abundant life, and most importantly, time now to live intentionally, focusing on the quality of what I am doing, rather than filling my diary with a quantity of activities.

In other news, I’ve discovered the band ‘Of Monsters and Men’ and I really like their sound. Below is a video of ‘Little Talks’, though I also like ‘King and Lionheart’. (This is also one of the strangest music videos I’ve seen. Just listen to the song, you don’t have to watch it.)


3 thoughts on “Learning to say no

  1. Megan says:

    As I read this, I realized how I probably forced myself into your world while you were, it turned out, withdrawing from more. I'm still glad I did. 🙂

    Of Monsters and Men was one CD I couldn't get from work because other people actually wanted it too. But I have to buy The Avett Brothers' new one before I think about getting that one.


    • Chera says:

      Oh, I’m glad you did, too! Our dinner dates meant so much to me. And if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have worked at MGMoA which means I wouldn’t have been able to get the MUSA job here, which has been a blessing. And from who else have I gotten to know such excellent, fun music? Among other things, of course — friendship cannot be quantified. ❤

      I think I might break down and buy Of Monsters and Men's CD because I'm annoyed that my free-online sources won't let me just play it on repeat continuously. I want to check out the Avett Brothers since you've been talking about it…


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