Slice of Life - Learning to Say No

Every Tuesday, Ruth and Stacey, host Slice of Life at their blog, Two Writing Teachers.  This is my first time participating in Slice of Life, and I am hoping to make it a regular feature.

My summer plans looked something like this - a pile of books, lots of time to read, and six weeks of time to myself. As an introvert, I was really looking forward to down time.  However, I am three weeks into my summer and life is looking nothing like I had imagined.  Yes, the pile of books is still glaring at me but I haven't made as big of a dent in it as I hoped.  Also, it seems that my goals to relax and reflect and consider where I want to go in the future are quickly being crowded out by other demands.  One of those demands includes two on-line courses I did not expect to be taking. 

Another challenge, my saying "yes" when maybe I should say "no".  When I am saying "yes", it is often for good things.  Work will ask me to pick up an extra project that they really need me to work on or my sister thinks that when I say I want to just hang out and do nothing, I must really mean that I want her to plan out activities for us when I am visiting my family. 

A friend asked me recently, why I am afraid to say "no".  In part, I want to be there for family, friends, or work.  If I could do something, shouldn't I? From another perspective, I don't want to disappoint those that I care about.  However, when I snapped at my sister today, I wasn't being there for her and I certainly disappointed her. 

Today was the perfect storm.  Assignments were due for class, my sister showed up to hang out, and I had too many things to do.  And this was supposedly my vacation.  Big fail on my part. 

My assignments did get turned in.  I did find a way to spend time with my sister and aunt, and I am crossing things off my "to do list". However, what was the cost to me and others?  When I snapped at my sister, I certainly didn't feel good, and I know she didn't feel good.  Sure, she now has a better idea that when I say I really just want to do nothing, I mean nothing.  Yet, I really envisioned that conversation happening differently, and not like we were teenagers again.

There are three weeks left of my summer vacation. I cannot change my commitment to the two classes but I can plan out differently how I work on my assignments.  I have four more days left with my family and I will find a way to apologize to my sister, while hoping to help her understand that when I say something I mean it.  And I am going to find polite ways to turn down any extra requests that are made on my time.  I am also going to find a way to build in some space into my schedule.  Just because the calendar does not show an appointment or a commitment does not mean that I should fill it in with one.

And if anyone is looking for me, I am currently off with a glass of iced tea, a book, and a "do not disturb" sign.