Learning to Say “No”

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12:01am 01.01.2022

I made it.

By some miracle, I made it.

Survival was my mantra for the past few months. I did it. And if I accomplish nothing else, that will be enough.

I sat down last week and plugged in my Instagram username and impatiently waited for my Top Nine to populate. What did my internet friends think were my most “like-worthy” posts from 2021?

  1. Vacation
  2. Vacation
  3. Selfie
  4. Selfie
  5. Super cute kids
  6. Super cute kids again
  7. Half-marathon
  8. Selfie
  9. Selfie

Life in those nine little squares appears fun, adventurous, accomplished, and happy. She seems like a person who had a great year, with a great family, and great opportunities. She doesn’t seem like someone who spent the last two months of the year breaking out in tears at any given moment for no apparent reason.

But there it was, in nine perfectly curated squares, a seemingly happy and blessed life. My life. What could I possibly have to cry about?

The truth is, I’m not even sure I know. What I do know is that it was the cumulation of an immense amount of weight constantly being placed on my shoulders, little by little, until I crumbled under it. Like every single tiny rock my kids collect at the park was being stuffed in my pockets while someone was pushing me from behind directly into a sea of tumultuous waters.

Something was being asked of me in some form or fashion from the second I woke up until the second I went to sleep, and I broke. When my husband asked me “what’s wrong” and my answer was “I don’t know” and “everything” that was the truth. I didn’t know why I was crying all of a sudden, but I did know that it was everything I was crying about.

As I stood crying over a pot of macaroni and cheese, I was forced to take inventory. How do I connect those nine perfect little squares back to my life? How do I get myself back to the life I love and out of this sad spiral? As I reflected on each individual weight that had been placed, the common denominator was saying “yes” to something I didn’t have the capacity for and therefore the best place to start was learning to say “no.”

As badly as I want to be there for everyone and everything, I simply cannot. I mentally, physically, and emotionally cannot. This is going to be a huge ask of myself, as I am hard-wired to my core to say “yes!”

But I know that creating boundaries and not overcommitting myself is the healthiest and only way to move forward. So if I say “no” to you, please respect it. Because as hard as it might be for you to hear, I guarantee it’s harder for me to say.

As I move into 2022, I am hopeful for inner peace and some room to breathe. I am looking forward to entering my username 12 months from now and recognizing the person on my screen.

I’m looking forward to 12:01am on 01.01.2023 and thinking “Not only did I survive, but I thrived! I made it, I truly made it!”

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Kinzy is a self-proclaimed “cool mom” to 3 spirited kids: Kellan (2012), Harper (2014), and Charlotte (2019). Her husband James is a Des Moines Firefighter whose only real downfall is his wholehearted participation in “Movember.” When she’s not working diligently to answer the ten thousand questions her kids ask in a day, she can be found slamming coffee, adding things to her shopping carts online knowing full well she’ll never actually checkout, and laughing at her own jokes. She spends most of her days reminiscing about when naps were still a thing, avoiding household chores, and striving to perfect the work/life balance.

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