The Power of No (for the Holiday season)

I could just as easily write a blog about the wondrous nature of YES. But I believe I'm a pretty positive person, especially when I sit down to type up a blog. I tend to blab on and on about all the good things you can and should do for yourself. Yak yak yak.

Time to get real.

Because our time is short. If you are a newborn baby (with brilliant reading skills) then you might have close to a hundred years yet to live. Maybe even more. But most of you have a whole hell of a lot less than that. If you are a very lucky fifty-something-year-old, you might have thirty years to go. And if you think back, the past thirty years have probably passed in a blink of an eye. Most of those years are just a blur in my mind. The nineties? I have no clue where those went. I spent that decade in a zombie state of pregnancy, nursing round the clock, attempting to sleep anytime the baby slept, and just barely surviving. I escaped with maybe half of my original brain function.

What was my point?

Oh yes. The power of saying NO.

If you are a female person, like me, you may have been raised to be nice. My mother is British and she is very nice. I think many of us feel pressure to be as nice as our mothers. (Insert a slap across the face here.) Get real. I'm never going to be one tenth as nice as my mother. No way. I was raised just outside of NYC and I lived in Queens for a year while I attended grad school. If I had any niceness in me, it was scoured from my system as a result of boarding the NYC subway on a daily basis. You can't be nice and live in New York. You will be squashed like a bug. And then pissed on.

But I digress. Again.

In addition to not being very nice, I am also an introvert. Some people find this hard to believe because I have pushed myself out into the world, onto various stages, in order to conquer my fear. Still, I hate crowds. My worst nightmare is a party where I know no one. But it doesn't matter how comfortable an introvert seems in public situations; the social interaction is always draining. While extroverts gain energy from being in the company of others, introverts are sucked dry. We need to recharge our batteries by being alone. We need plenty of time BETWEEN social commitments.

Finally she gets to the point!

During the holidays, we may receive invitations to attend various parties, functions, gatherings, concerts, meetings, cookie swaps, who-knows-what. We might be pushed to entertain others in our home. Maybe you can say YES to all of this and never bat an eye. Maybe your family can arrive from outer Mongolia and camp in your living room for a week or two and you are simply stoked. Maybe you can host your daughter's softball league in the afternoon and attend a black tie gala that same evening all while juggling flame-covered batons. Maybe you are superwoman or Batman. But I'm not.

I am a selfish, not nice introvert who needs to take a nap before she turns into Garfield, the world's grumpiest cat. The ability to say NO is my only superpower. I've learned over the years that saying YES when I really want (need!) to say NO is not a gift to anybody. Over the holidays, I need to check my grump-o-meter frequently. If the arrow is wavering into the red zone, it's definitely time for a break from humanity. Otherwise, I could experience a break from sanity.

So during the holiday season, you might want to check your own grump-o-meter. And remember that some of your friends or loved ones could be introverts. (We make up about half of the population.) If someone wants or needs to be alone, it doesn't mean they don't love you or care about you. And if you need to take care of yourself by saying NO on occasion, it doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you a smart one.


  1. I am so Garfield! People don't understand when I say that I feel more lonely in a crowd than when I'm by myself. I explain my personality to my extroverted kids as "liking myself" and being comfortable with the activities that I CHOOSE to pursue. I think I could comfortably "live off the grid".


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