I Don’t Wanna.
“I don’t wanna. I don’t think so.”
This brillzy line from Sonic Youth’s “Kool Thing” is everything.
We make decisions based on our preferences all day long. Salad or burger? Podcast or music on the way to the office? Same jeans you wore yesterday (because they’re lying next to your bed) or the cute, new cord ensemble…which isn’t as convenient, but it’s friggin’ cute.
When you make choices for yourself that only impact you, you get what you want and no one gets hurt. You always have your back. You understand you. And you wouldn’t dream of making a decision (if it’s just between you and you) that sucked for you. So you order the burger, listen to the podcast, and wear the jeans. Boom.
Yet when someone else is involved, you tend to think their preferences trump yours. Why? Do you work for them? Are you married to them? Are you their parent? Does it matter? In some cases, it might. Like if your kid has a fever and you wanted to go to the thing, you pick the kid over the thing. But the fever probably shifted your preference from the thing to the kid, so you still went with your preference.
So let’s use an example where honoring your preference might not be so clear: You and a group of friends are meeting for dinner and one of those friends is a “pick me up” girl. Y’know. The one who always wants a ride, even though she has a car, is perfectly capable of driving, and lives closer to the venue than you? Would it be out of your way to pick her up? Not really. Would it kill you? No. Would it make a smaller carbon footprint. Yes. So, do you want to pick her up? No! Why? Because you don’t feel like tidying up your car, gabbing to and from dinner, and you want to end the night on your timeline, not hers. But most importantly, you just don’t want to pick a bitch up. You love your friend but she can drive her own ass.
And just how do you tell her that? Lots of ways. You can be vague and say it may not work. Which leaves you at risk for being asked again, and having to wiggle your way out with another lie – because that’s what ”It may not work.” is, if you really mean, “No..”. You can say “I’d rather drive solo.” Which will take care of things this time but not necessarily next time. Or you can be straight with her and reveal that carpooling just isn’t your thing, which puts the convo to bed this time and all the next times.
I tried the latter when a colleague kept inviting me to those clothes parties. I am such a, “Hell no.” on those things that I practically have an allergic reaction, yet I was dying as I tried to type my regret e-mail. “Thanks so much for the invite! I’ve heard great things about (WHATEVER THE F THE CLOTHING LINE WAS – DON’T CARE) but those parties aren’t really my thing. Have a blast, and see you Monday! She was like, “Totally get it!” And I never got another invite. Does she secretly think I’m a B? Maybe, but those feeling are hers to manage, and I didn’t have to buy one ugly sweater. (SELF FIST BUMP)
Of course, there are way more life-altering scenarios where your “No.” is critical. Like loaning someone a giant bag of cash when it feels wonky, adopting a child when you’re not sure, taking a shit job because someone else doesn’t believe in your entrepreneurial endeavor, choosing the traditional therapy over the alternative because people will judge how you manage the health of your body, saying, “I do.” when you don’t.
You may not be ready to jump on the “No.” train, but start with the small stuff to get in shape. The more you work your “No.” muscle, the stronger it gets. And consider this: a respectful, thoughtful, honest, “No.” is always better than a pity “Yes.” Because a fake-yes will inevitably lead to a pissy attitude, quiet contempt, a snide remark, or a very dark place for you and your phony-yes victim.
Trust me. It’s great when you grow a sack and have your own back. Just say, “I don’t wanna,” it’s a Kool Thing.
Thanks for subscribing to Wayword Girl. Stories from a screwup who made it work. It’s my mission to entertain, inspire, and heal you into believing in the shiny ass miracle you are. Peace.
Want these communiques to come directly to your inbox? Sign up for my newsletter here.