How to: Say "Yes"

Wednesday July 8 2015
by Caitlin

Have you ever been in a situation when your mind, or even your body is screaming “No!” but from somewhere deep inside there’s a wee voice that rises out and pipes a little “Yes”?

Congratulations! I shall award you the “Stage one to Happy Adulting” badge. You’ve faced your fears.

In my 24 years I’ve faced many opportunities where I’ve felt the rumblings of anxiety and said “No” to stay safe, but I’ve also felt courage in some situations and said “Yes!”, just to see what might happen.

Looking back there is no doubt that I wish I had said ‘Yes’ to many more things, if not everything! For the times I did say yes I feel happy that younger me was able say it.

There isn’t a single young adult who hasn’t thought about their future self and wanted that future person to be happy. We want to be happy with what we’re doing and with our relationships. Most importantly we want to be happy with the older human we have become and happy with the path we took to get there.

Naturally, we fear failure. Many of us anticipate the worst when we don't know what’s around the corner. “No”, can become our go-to when we want to step back from the unknown. In my mind, an unhappy adult is one who looks back on missed chances and carries regret on their back.

When one of my girlfriends asked me if I wanted to travel around Thailand with her, I thought “Hell No”. The thought of Thailand filled my mind with horror stories of food poisoning, BBQ cats and people selling your organs on the black market. When it came to the point that I couldn’t hold her off any longer, I thought “Fuck it”, and booked my flights.

I had the most amazing life experience in Thailand and I can’t wait to return. Today it’s the thought that my initial fears might have put me off going, that scares the shit out of me.

Career prospects, relationships, surprise requests or any type of unfamiliar challenge could be passed up by saying “No”, just like mine nearly was. While you’re on your path to becoming a happy adult you need to let your creativity and curiosity guide you, not your fears.

When saying “Yes” here are four things I like to keep in mind:

Saying Yes doesn’t make you a “yes person”

This is not about being pressured to do things we don't want to do. Its about having the courage and conviction to do the things we know we really want to do. I have found that it’s the things I want to do the most that are the scariest to say “Yes” to.

Put confidence behind your ‘Yes’.

I know - how many times have we read that “Confidence is key”? But it really, really is. Richard Branson once said “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you are not sure you can do it, say yes. Then learn how to do it later." While this man sweats confidence, he’s got a point. It’s only when we’re challenged that we can truly find out what we can do.

Thailand was full of personal challenges for me. I hate flying, but I got on a 12 hour flight. I hate the heat, but I sweated through every magical day and barely noticed. Most importantly I hate leaving my comfort zone, and there is nothing familiar or comforting about Thailand. I had to keep thinking “I can do this”, the whole flight over.

After the first day all I could think was “I’m here!”, I had made it. Every new smell, taste, and sight made me realise that this was truly living and until this moment my anxieties and fears had been holding me back.

Not every ‘Yes’ will work out as planned

I have made many decisions in my young adult life that didn’t really go to plan. I took university papers that I failed, I had relationships that left me heart broken, and I applied for jobs that I hated. I had said “yes” to all of these opportunities and they sent me down new and challenging paths. While you’re down these paths life sucks, however looking back I don’t regret a single one.

My first big ‘Yes’ was to go to University after High School, but failing my first paper made me realise my heart wasn’t in it. While I could have pursued my subjects, I had learnt how important it was to truly love what you’re doing and I have since avoided years of telling people “Yeah... it’s alright”, when they ask what I’m doing.

I said “Yes” to a long distance relationship that so many people told me wouldn’t work out. I followed my heart and that Yes left me very single 8 months later. I am so much stronger from this experience and believe if this “Yes fail” had never happened to me, I wouldn’t be the assertive person I am today.

Every time I entered the exciting and scary unknown, by saying yes, I’ve felt stronger and more alive regardless of the outcome.

Rationalise your “No”

It’s also okay to say “No”, just ask yourself why.

Are you afraid of something bad happening? Do you think you can’t do it? While it’s good to say “No” when someone asks you to go out partying the night before a big exam it’s not good to say “No” when you can’t rationalise a good enough reason beyond your own fears.

Pros and Cons lists were introduced to me at a young age, my Mum was a big fan of them. While they might seem like a waste of time it’s amazing to step outside your own thought patterns and see what’s fueling your “No”, when you’re really swaying towards “Yes”.

Write all the Pros first then all the Cons. I’ve written lists like the one above so many times in my life and it’s never failed me to realise what parts of my decision were rational and what were emotional.

Tough decisions are tough for a reason, they also don’t get easier. But they make us who we are and define what kind of person we will grow to be. If you're anything like me, you’re just starting out on your path to Adulting, so open every door possible.

Why are we all here if not to live the highest, fullest version of our lives? By saying yes, we invite possibility into our lives and the ability to learn what we are capable of. You’re about to find out just how far you can go.▼

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