The Power of “No”

I recently started freelancing and picked up a few jobs that went fairly quickly. It was exciting and I quickly took on a larger editing project and a smaller, ongoing one. However, it was soon clear that the smaller job was actually a lot more work than I had anticipated, and, paired with tight deadlines, was adding a lot of stress to my daily life. I’m still working full time as a teacher, and am in the midst of the final week, plus have my husband and three little ones at home which is chaotic enough on its own.

But I kept plugging through each step anyways. Even though I hated it. Even though it wasn’t worth it. Even though I knew I was only hurting myself in the long run by stressing myself out.

I was making this face. A lot.

I kept finding myself justifying the work and the stress due to the pressure to make more money for our family’s upcoming vacations. Or because I couldn’t stand the thought of letting down a potential long-term employer. Or I just told myself that it was my own fault that I hadn’t figured out how to prioritize everything and make it work.

But then, I got to a point during one step for the smaller job (this was an “interview” assignment, basically no pay for the pieces in order to see if I could meet deadlines and follow directions), I was literally hesitating with each click or keystroke. I was physically and mentally fighting the job itself and warring with my feelings as I was trying to complete the job. That’s when I realized part of the problem: I’d turned this want to do into a have to do.

It was at that point that I finally emailed the employer and let them know that I was not going to be able to complete the interview position. That I was saying “no” to the job that I had originally applied to enthusiastically. I was saying “no” to the question about whether I could get on board with how the company ran things.


Okay, yes, at first, I may have had a mild panic attack that I was sabotaging my future as a freelancer and was going completely against everything that I thought I stood for. But as the day wore on, I noticed that I wasn’t feeling as bogged down. There wasn’t a pressure pressing against my temples every time my kids asked me for something or I checked my email. And everything felt a little clearer. I could suddenly see just how to prioritize the other job (and another one that I picked up that was much more in tune with how I want to work).

But probably the biggest thing that I realized was that I felt a sense of accomplishment by basically quitting and saying “no.” At the beginning of the year, I decided that my motto this year would be to “Be Brave” and I had actually done something brave in deciding to quit this job. It was incredibly reassuring and satisfying to know that I was anxious and upset about something and I faced it and made a decision that was good for ME. Not for the company. Not in accordance to the pressures of society. Not because I had to. Because I wanted to. I took back part of my autonomy and freedom just by saying “no.”

This is definitely a stepping stone on my path to becoming a better, more confident and self-assured person, and one that I hope I will never forget.

What about you? Have you found the power of saying “no” yet? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments.

Published by Leslie

I'm an author, teacher, wife, and mother of three who just finished an MFA program and is working on a YA fantasy novel.

3 thoughts on “The Power of “No”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: