The inevitable fate of a blogger can be that they can over share their life with the world (or at least their small little corner of it). And in fact one of the reasons that I stepped away from blogging a little under a year ago was because I was going through quite a lot of changes in my life and I didn’t want to share them with my virtual world, yet it seemed weird to carry on blogging without mentioning them, particularly on a lifestyle blog.
So I took a break to reassess what was important to me, and to take time to rebuild a world around me that I was happy with. I am pleased to say that it has involved lots and lots of saying yes and I am proud of each and every yes I have said, and I fully intend to say many more.
But part of this journey actually started by realising that there are times when we need to say no.
Now that I am far enough removed from it that I can be philosophical about it, I can see that it is a lesson that is worth sharing. Because as much as we want to inspire you all to say yes, we want to inspire you to do what is right for you too.
And for me last year that meant realising that I needed to say no.
No this isn’t working, no I’m not happy here, no this relationship isn’t the one for me, and no I don’t want to keep on making each other unhappy together anymore.
The breakdown of a relationship is emotionally and physically draining, even when it is entirely friendly (or as much as these things can be so, because where matters of the heart are involved, there are always some raw emotions).
If one person is unhappy in a relationship, it’s difficult for them to make the other person happy. So if you are feeling unhappy the chances are they are too, even if they don’t realise it.
So this was a very much a mutual no. We wanted to live in different places, to do different things with our lives. And the reality is that if you are meant to be together you are able to compromise on those, but we couldn’t. We both had different yeses on our horizon and admitting that was heartbreaking and relieving in equal measures.
I cannot say how much I admire Chris, my ex, as a person. He’s not just my ex, he is still a friend and I shared a substantial part of my life with him. I would never wish that away or want to take it back. It is the very fact that I wish him nothing but happiness that meant that we couldn’t be together – because I couldn’t give him that, because I wasn’t happy.
Sometimes people just don’t fit, and deep down I knew it for longer than I cared to admit.
Having the courage to say no can sometimes be the hardest thing and that it means that it can take longer to say than it should. But I know I needed to be ready to say it.
We owned a house together, and so I needed to be sure of what I wanted because I would not just be walking away from my partner I would be walking away from my house and my home.
The fact it had stopped feeling like home was one of the indicators that it was the right time to say no. There were lots of obstacles in front of me – continuing to live together while we sold the house, buying a house on my own and all the pressure and responsibility that goes with that, the prospect of growing apart from a group of friends who once were his and had become ours, that I had built memories with. But I could see that avoiding those obstacles wasn’t reason enough to stay because I wasn’t being true to the philosophy of year of the yes by staying. You can’t live life to the full if you know you aren’t entirely happy.
Year of the yes has taught me that living life to the full means being open and saying yes to as many challenges and opportunities as come your way. But sometimes it also means stopping the things that aren’t making you happy. Whether it is a relationship, a friendship, a job, a house, a hobby. Whatever.
So I encourage you to feel empowered to say no, you will be better for it.
And actually, sometimes saying no actually means saying yes to something else.
I didn’t want you just to take my word for it, so I thought I would ask Chris to give his take on it as well. And he perfectly articulates exactly why saying no leads you to a whole world of yeses that you might not otherwise have dared to dream:
There’s sometimes a moment in life when you are sat on a sofa one evening after work, watching Mock the Week, thinking about the conversation you’ve just had.
In this particular case, the conversation Em and I had was arguably the hardest and saddest that I’ve been part of. As you’ve already read, we had just decided that things were not working and so after 6 and some years, a house purchase and plenty of memories in between, it was time to call it a day.
Initially I was gutted. The No that was the catalyst to where we are now, was one that, whilst expected and perhaps secretly hoped for, I wasn’t ready to hear. As Em eloquently points out (you may have realised quite quickly I’m more Creative Director than blogger), we had graduated to housemates and good friends rather than partners.
We were no longer making each other happy and it’s a terrible place to be when you sit and look at the person you share fantastic memories with and realise you will not be able to or can not make more with that person anymore. Having talked it through with family, friends and most importantly Em, we could all see that perhaps this had been the case for a lot longer than we wanted to admit.
In the teary silence though, the relief that we both felt became apparent. Over the next few days it felt like we spoke more and were closer to each other than we had been for a long time. The awkward weight was lifted from us both and we started to have some fun again. Realising this was the biggest help to me and the catalyst to looking at life and thinking that it was time for a brand new start.
The end of a relationship is horrible, even when you do it in the most amicable way, but it lets you take a different approach to life. It let’s you say yes to exciting trips abroad, yes to a new bike (or two… there was a sale on in my defence). More than that, it lets you say yes to spending more time doing things that you love and enjoy. I now spend more time than ever with my family and for me that’s incredibly important. Especially as everytime I see my nephew he’s grown again!
The No that has empowered Em and I to say more Yeses is the best thing that has happened to us both. We are still friends and I’m incredibly grateful for that. The fact we have now both done and will be doing amazing things this year, vindicates our No.
Saying No to people, for a whole world of different reasons, can be hard. Saying Yes can be just as hard.
The thing about saying Yes, however, is that it can give you hope, it can give you dreams and it can be the making of you as a person. It’s never too late to start saying Yes, as we have both found, even if at the time it might seem like the most difficult thing you could ever do.
So, we might have got a little philosophical on you there but if you have made it this far, I hope we have inspired you to say yes, but also to know when to say no. So that in the long term, you can keep saying yes. Again, and again, and again.
Chris’ Yes Directory
Favourite Yeses so far this year: Dubai with work and America to visit my friend Matt, who has recently moved out there.
Favourite ever yes: Seeing the Foo Fighters at MK Bowl is high on the list. I’m sure there’s others though but that was the one that comes to mind!
On the Yes List: Tough Mudder on 31st May
Yes Inspiration: Emma Kingston and Christina Holmes for the awesome work they put in leading the assault on Yeses!! [Editor’s note: I promise we don’t pay people do say us… but if we inspire one more person to say yes with each post, we are happy].