So, I started my last question to B by writing that I had seen signs everywhere that people were lamenting the perceived lack of time in their lives. Now, as I prepare to write about how great it is to say “no,” I must acknowledge that I am far from the first person do so. In fact, there was a New York Times Smarter Living article a few weeks ago that discussed the power of saying no (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/26/smarter-living/if-its-not-a-100-yes-its-a-no.html). But all that aside, I just wanted to update you all on the progress I’ve made on some of the issues described in my question to B, specifically the poetry journal and the weekend-only guy.
I ended up emailing the poetry journal last Sunday (3/11) and quitting right then and there. Of course, right after I sent the email, miles of doubts ran through my mind: “I shouldn’t have quit, I want to be super involved in the creative writing world one day, this position could’ve led to me being a journal editor, how am I supposed to know the types of poems I’m competing against when I submit to journals if I’m not reading for one myself, etc." But my brain quickly calmed down, and days later I still think I made the right decision. Time will tell. The lesson here is that there is almost always trade-off. Of course I couldn't avoid losing something when I quit. I lost a window into the literary journal world, and perhaps a path to future opportunities. But I also gained a lot of time: time to work on my own writing; to say yes to future, as-yet-unknown opportunities; and to just REST and DO NOTHING while watching a different Marvel movie with my friends every Saturday until "Infinity War" comes out, instead of simultaneously, furiously reading through piles of poems.
One other note: the journal editors I worked with were quite gracious, and though I didn’t even offer to become a reader again when I felt like I had more time in my life – as B said, offer only if you really mean it, and I wouldn’t have really meant it – they said I was welcome back any time. I’m so grateful to feel like that door is not completely closed, and at the same time to feel no obligation whatsoever to go back, because I wasn’t the one who suggested it.
Okay, now for the update on weekend-only guy. We couldn’t meet last weekend because his friend was in town, so I agreed to a weeknight meet up. We were supposed to meet Wednesday, and I asked if he wanted to come to my Chicago neighborhood for a drink, but he countered by asking if I would just go to his apartment. This was going to be our third date; for the first I went to his neighborhood for drinks, and for the second I went to his apartment. Even though I uncomplainingly agreed to go to his apartment after he asked me to for this third date, inside my head I was annoyed; I thought that it was high time for him to travel to me. But somehow I didn’t have the courage to say that. One reason was that he works long hours and wasn’t getting home until 8 or 8:30 Wednesday night. But another reason was that he’s always assertive about his preferences and I like to think (with him and with other people) that I just don’t care as much. But if I really look inside myself, I discover that’s not true. In most cases, I actually have clear wants, needs, desires, and preferences.
Before I reached that point of clarity, however, I had a long stretch of time where I was full of anger towards him. How ridiculous! He didn’t do anything wrong. He even gave me an out when he asked me to go to his place, saying, “I understand if you don’t want to come over again.” The real truth is that my anger started even before I texted him “Yes;" it started when he asked me to come over in the first place. In fact, my anger blinded me so much that I didn’t even REGISTER the out he gave me until I went back hours later to look over that text. I guess I felt so obligated to acquiesce to his preferences that it felt like he was forcing my hand. (To be fair to me, the fact that he even asked me to travel to him a THIRD TIME does warrant some annoyance, in my opinion. But it does not warrant as much anger as I actually felt.)
Anyway, in the midst of all this anger, I went on a run after work. As I ran, I realized that there was no good reason to go over to this guy’s place later that evening if I really didn’t want to. I liked him, but not that much, so there wasn’t much to lose. And even if I had been way more into him, accommodating his request with hidden anger bubbling up inside me would not have been healthy or good for either of us. So I texted him this, is so many words: I’m so sorry, I should’ve been more truthful earlier, but I don’t feel like leaving my neighborhood tonight. I’ve gone to your neighborhood twice and now I feel like it’s your turn to come here.
And he was so understanding! He said he could definitely come here, and we could reschedule for a night when he didn’t have to work until 8 or 9pm.
So as you can see, I dished out two “no's" this week, even though I had to take back “yes's" to do so, and I am SO glad I did. I’m not saying it changed my life completely; I’m just saying it improved small logistical aspects of my day-to-day life, and it empowered me in the process. And that, my friends, is worth the sacrifice.