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Welcome to NO-vember

30 days to stop saying yes when you mean no. I'm in, are you?

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No. Such a tiny word, and yet so problematic.

I’ve never really mastered it. I’m not sure why, but it seems to be a trait I share with plenty of other women, so maybe it's a conditioning thing... A thing that starts at school, or well before, when as a small female person you quickly realise that saying yes goes hand in hand with being obedient. And as a certified Good Girl™️ it is practically in your job description. It is also, I think, for me at least, to do with likability. If you weren’t an especially popular kid, one of those who was always the third in a three, the one who got to sit on the other side of the bus aisle. One of those who wasn’t sporty or funny or cheeky or conventionally pretty and was a bit too swotty to be coveted best friend material (hands up) you learn pretty early on that being amenable, saying yes to whatever is asked of you is a back door to, if not popularity (far too lofty a goal for a chubby swotty ginger), then at least some sort of inclusion.

And so I learnt my people pleasing ways early on, just as I learnt how tricky people pleasing was to navigate successfully. After all, they don’t say 'you can’t please all of the people all of the time' for no reason. Say yes to the teacher and you alienate the kids whose approval you covet. Say yes to the gang you so desperately want to be part of and you’re guaranteed not to please anyone who remotely passes as an authority figure. And where, in all of this people-pleasing (or failing to), are you?

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