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Say yes to no

I have resting bitch face. I’ve been told this. I have come to accept it. Believe it or not, I thought this was a friendly smile, but instead I look like I want to smash.

I’m trying to reclaim this face and use it to focus on my new zen mantra — the power of no.


It’s amazing that I have made it to this, my fourth decade on the planet, without embracing the concept of No. Most toddlers and young children have this down pat.

No, I can’t help you fix your mailing list. Do I know how to do this? Yes! Would I be awesome at this? I would be so awesome your heart will sing. Is that a priority for me? No. No it is not.

No, I can’t create a marketing plan for your project. Yes, I know, I’m awesome at this. No, I wish I could but it simply is not possible. No, I can’t go to your event. No, I can’t get on a plane. No, I can’t be your tour guide in Las Vegas. No, I can’t give you line edits on your writing project. No I can’t fix your works cited page. No.

It’s so simple in text. No. And yet I’m always so happy to jump in and fix the things I can fix, fight the battles that in essence I probably don’t even care about, do all of the things when really I have to shoot my own goals, my own plans, my own aspirations right in the gut.

Is this feeling a little too familiar? Are you nodding your head in agreement and saying “Bix, shut up, this is exactly how I feel too!” I hear you, baby, Rest your head on my shoulder and weep.

Wait. No. Don’t do that. This right here is my problem!

Why? Why do we do this?

I have a theory. At least in my case, I suspect this is the detritus of a childhood of being  groomed to be the perfect victim. The fixer. The carrier of all things terrible. The responsible emotional baggage hauler. The holder of and internalizer of blame.

No. I see you now, inner pleaser. I am calling bullshit on your mechanical “Yes of course” responses. I am crying foul when you wad up a dense ball of guilt. That guilt is not going to persuade me any longer. No more. No.

This is my zen mantra now. No.

I’m having a hard time with this self-care plan, by the way. I’m all talk and bluster and it’s all very much harder than it looks. Things are coming up with my charity work and I want to rush in and volunteer to do everything myself (No). Things are coming up in my teaching role — like I want to spend 90 minutes giving feedback on each and every student paper, of which I currently have 30 sitting in my To Be Graded queue, since I know that this class is a foundational class for them and I want to coddle their little freshman brains out (No). Things are coming up in my writing program — like the people who gave me my fellowship also own this really big deal magazine that they inherited and I have all of these great experiences in publishing and amazing strategies and wisdom earned by Doing It The Hard Way and also I have this analytical background so I have the skills to Fix Their Data and make it usable except this is like a four month full time job to get everything Just So, Just The Way I Think It Should Be. (No) And then there’s things at home — like I need to finish unpacking our house because we’re going to have a million visitors in the next few months, plus Ward and June are staying with us for a WHOLE month and I know that it will be more stressful for her to see these things yet unpacked and she is helpful and will start unpacking them and asking me where things should go and instead I should just DO THE THING and also I need to decorate for the holidays because that’s not done and I like it to be done already. (No) Things are coming up at school — like I kind of want to build a brand new course to teach next year, one that hasn’t been taught at UNLV (to my knowledge) on Stephen King’s work but it requires SO much more effort than just teaching a course that they automatically give to TAs, things like Comp 101, 102 and your basic creative writing workshop. (No. Errrr….Maybe)

One of my PhD cohorts and I talk about this a lot — how it’s easy to get sucked in because you want to do everything, you know you would enjoy the fruits of that labor, and so many ideas would be good things to execute. But… no. We need to write. We need to pursue our own studies. We need to pave the way for jobs. We need to manage our incredibly paltry funds. We need to save enough down time for our friends and family. We need to focus on not going crazy. We need to give inward. We need to have enough time to recharge and sleep and do our laundry and watch “Gavin and Stacey” because we need to survive.

So, no.

And maybe this is the big problem — resting bitch face isn’t really “bitch” so much as it is not going to say yes. It is the face of someone who has said yes too many times, the face of someone who is exhausted, used up, drained near to weeping. Now that face is not going to let our self-worth be determined by making other people happy.

I’m reclaiming the RBF. Let us use it to add gravitas to our resounding and final No.

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One Comment

  1. PattM wrote:

    Ha. I did this very thing today. A co-worker asked me to find a contract in our shared file. I pulled up the file and told him, “That’s where your info is. You have access to it.” Felt very good. Best of luck with the “no-ing”!

    Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

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