Just Say NO

No, this isn’t a post about drugs or sex or any other kind of frequently associated topics relating to saying “No” firmly.  All my life, I’ve been a “yes” person.  I learned as a child that saying “no” upset people; it made my parents mad if I didn’t want to do something; if I defied them.  If I was being yelled at by my dad, he would ask things like, “Do you understand?” I would say, “Yes”, even though I did not understand.  I didn’t get why he would get so mad; why he would scream, curse, hit, leave, etc.  “No” was bad and I was bad if I said it.  That’s what was embedded into my brain.
That mentality carried over with my friends.  “Do you want to go to the mall, Sandy?” No, I rather go to the movies.  But I didn’t say that.  I said, “yes” because I knew that’s what everyone else wanted to do.  I pushed my opinions and my wants or needs aside just to please people.  If I didn’t say “yes”, what would everyone think of me?  Would they like me anymore?  I never really found out.
As an adult, I still struggle with when to say “no”.  I’ve made progress in my personal life; often taking lead on where to go to dinner or what to do on a night out, or I will tell my friends when I don’t feel like going out at all, too. However, professionally, I’m still very much a “yes” girl.  I never can say no to a new opportunity, afraid I’ll regret it.  I keep saying yes to new projects, clients, and giving up days off to cover a shift for someone when I really didn’t want to.  I’ve been suffering from it, physically, emotionally, and my writing has definitely suffered from it.  I didn’t have time for the novel I want so much to finish and was so quickly writing over the summer…
There is this little, nagging, person in my brain that says things to me like:
What if this could lead to a big break career-wise?
If you don’t cover this person’s shift, they won’t do it for you if you need it.  OR  They’ll hate me if I don’t have a good reason not to take their shift, other than I want to sleep or work on my novel.
It’s more money.  Don’t turn down money.
If you don’t do it, your boss will hold it against you.
Yes, sadly, these are the things that go on in my brain.  Since I moved back to Nashville four months ago, I’ve been saying yes to every career opportunity that has fallen into my lap.  I figured this is what I was waiting for; to be able to have clients with digital marketing; to have more and more opportunities in my field–journalism, public relations, entertainment…
ALL of these opportunities presented themselves to me recently.  New magazines, new blogs, new clients, and even a possibility of getting involved with T.V./movie casting.  I felt overwhelmed.  I felt stretched extremely thin with all of my work, plus, meetings to discuss possibilities of all this future work.
I had to stop and take a step back.  I had made the decision to cut digital marketing from my life, and not only was I attracting more of it, but I was attracting many other jobs in my “field”.  I thought these were little blessings; signs everything was falling into place, that all of those years of not making money in journalism have now come to fruition.
Then I realized most of what was coming to me was not what I wanted… at all.  I’m not enjoying what I do.  I’m spending less time doing the aspects of things I loved about my jobs, and have become nothing more than a salesman, who is just in it for the money.  That is just not who I am.
It became clear that these opportunities were not gifts; they’re tests, and I was failing them… until now.
Finally, I realized what I wanted.  It definitely wasn’t digital marketing.  I also realized I don’t want to work for other blogs, but my own.  I don’t want to get involved in the movie/T.V. business other than writing screenplays.
At this point in my life, all I want to do is work a “regular” job that excites me on some level and to write.  That’s it.  Simple.  Creative freedom where I can escape at the end of the day into my characters and make magic, hopefully.  I don’t want to waste my creative energy on other people’s social media campaigns. No. No. No.
Working at Atmalogy provides a steady paycheck, creating in the kitchen and as a barista, and interacting with the Nashville community and events — perfect.  Yes. Yes. Yes.  This is in tune with where I am and who I am.
After I took a deep breath, I told myself I had to do it.  I had to contact all of these people handing me these new projects, opportunities, clients, etc, and tell them a big, fat NO.  Not for more money.  Not to start up again next month or in the new year.  But to stop right now, for me and my sanity, and the quest and passion of my own art; I had to say no to everyone in order to say yes to myself.
And you know what happened?  Freedom.
You know what else happened?  No one hates me!  Some are disappointed because they were looking forward to working with me, which is much appreciated, but to know that I have not burned those bridges by trying to work with them on something half-heartedly, and without much time to dedicate, makes me feel good about my decision.
There are times when you have to do things you don’t want to do, but that doesn’t mean you always have to be a “yes” person.  Sometimes when you say “no”, you earn more respect, if not from anyone but yourself.


  • Sandy Lo

    Sandy Lo’s personal story is inspiring. She started, StarShine Magazine, an online publication in 2001, at the age of 18. She wrote her first novel in 2009, “Lost In You,” followed by the “Dream Catchers” Series. She was the first person ever to professionally interview Taylor Swift and has received personal endorsements for her books from members of boy bands Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees. Recently, she has been seeing some tremendous momentum in book sales on Kindle. She has been included on the “50 Writers You Should Be Reading” list by The Authors Show, and “Dream Catchers”, “Breaking The Moon” and “Indigo Waters” reached the Top 100 Best Selling Coming of Age novels in Amazon’s Kindle Store. What makes this even more unique, is that Sandy relocated from NY to Nashville in order to write “The Watch Dog,” which is set in a fictional town outside of Music City. “The Watch Dog” reached the Top 10 Ghost Stories on Amazon. Aside from her writing projects, Sandy is also a freelance digital strategist.