(Bonus) Learning to say no.

I’ve been working as a mail delivery person for well over 6 years at this point. I still remember when I first started out. I worked about 9 or 10 hours a week, I can’t remember the exact amount in my contract but it was around that much. The person in charge of our weekly planning was this nice lady who was very good at her job. She always asked the right people to work extra because she was very aware of what was reasonable and what wasn’t. Fast forward 6 years and it’s September 2021. The lady in charge of planning retires and a new person is hired for the planning. This new person is basically thrown into the deep with a little bit of guidance, but not terribly much. Obviously this person has no idea what is reasonable and is just told to ask whoever to fill in for sick people.

I feel for the people in these jobs because I could never do it. Calling people all day asking them to work extra would probably slowly kill me inside. So I try to be as nice as possible whenever I can. But I also need to be careful and take good care of my own health. I don’t want to jeopardize any of that for a minimum wage job I’m probably quitting before the year is over. So throughout the years I managed to acquire a skill that I didn’t have before.
That skill is the ability to say “no” when someone asks me for help.

Now some of you who read this might think this isn’t a skill, and anyone can do that, and I’m sure a lot of people are very good at saying no. But I know for a fact I’m not the only one who struggles with it. Some people can be very convincing and if you’re not someone with a lot of self-esteem, like me, it can be hard to keep that at bay. SO you end up saying yes to that extra shift even though you’re already tired. I’ve done that a lot in my life, not just at the mail, but in general.

I think I was well on the way to get better at this, until my first year at University. When I was just starting out university I wasn’t doing well. I was getting overwhelmed by the big city, the lack of structure and the very, very, very busy campus and public transport. And a lot of my classmates were very driven. I had a nice friend group that I did projects with. One of these projects involved us going to some sort of museum for inspiration. The problem was that a lot of the people in my group were very laid back and would decide on a plan in the morning and expect everyone to just roll with it. This happened on a day where I already had plans with a friend. So I said no, while the rest of the group went to work on the school project. Not long after I was removed from the group for not carrying my weight. 

Looking back at this over a decade later I don’t think I was in the wrong. I already had a different appointment. You can’t expect me to cancel that just because of poor planning on your end. I ended up quitting that course not long after, and in hindsight I should have quit earlier than I did, but it led to one of my worst depressions. I took up therapy and recovered over time, but it took a very long time before I was finally able to say no to things again. I was always worried about getting in trouble or disappointing someone. So I worked harder than I probably should have at times, which had a toll on my health. I realized this eventually and slowly but surely started saying “no” again.

And this has been a massive blessing. I’m writing this because earlier today the planning department of my work called me again. They asked if I wanted to work extra tomorrow since they have an open route. I’m scheduled for around 3 hours tomorrow, exactly the amount I want to work. If I felt well I probably could have done a bit extra, and I likely would have said yes. But I’ve been unwell for the past few days. Perhaps it’s the booster shot, or stress, or a combination of these two. Either way, I feel very tired and got some pains and stuff, nothing major but it just kind of sucks. So I said no to the extra route. I felt a little bit bad, as I will probably always do, but I didn’t want to do something so I didn’t do it. It was as simple as that. Five or ten years ago I probably wouldn’t have been able to say no, and would have been miserable while working. 

The main thing I want anyone reading this to take away from my post is that it’s okay to say no to people if you don’t want to do what they ask of you. You don’t owe anyone anything and it’s important to take care of yourself first. Obviously I’m not preaching for anyone to be selfish, but there’s a very solid in between that anyone should learn to do. Don’t be that one person in the group project that doesn’t contribute anything, but also don’t be too strict on the people you work with. Cooperation is a very important skill in this day and age since we have to deal with so many more people than even a few generations ago before long range communication existed. Find your comfortable middle ground and do what makes you happy. And I think it’s a very, very valuable skill to have in general. I’m definitely happy I acquired this skill.

Thanks for reading. Leave a like and/or comment if you enjoyed, it really makes my day!

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