The Power of Saying Yes

I feel like people have been telling me to stop overthinking things since before I can remember. And every single time, I find myself saying “well, easier said than done.” It was only recently that I realized how damaging this type of mentality had become, in more ways than one. This overthinking and overanalyzing mentality has come into play at many different points in my life, but what bothers me the most is when it prevents me from living my life to the fullest. I’ve come to realize that I often refuse invitations to things because of my overactive imagination and anxiety. It’s a bit of a paradox for me, as I’m someone who thrives off of socializing, yet often refuses to admit it. If I’m being painfully honest, I usually try to tell myself that I’m happier staying at home than going out because it causes me less worry. I thought that this was rational, that I should obviously be doing whatever is going to cause me the least amount of stress, right? Deep down however, I think I’ve always known it was a bit of a cop out. Very rarely has it been an example of self care, and much more often a negative coping mechanism, and a way of submitting to my anxiety. By staying home all the time in order to avoid anxiety, I was just feeding it. I was letting it rob me of fun times, friends, and memories.

For example, if someone were to text me and tell me I should come with them to a party, a million questions immediately pop into my brain. Who’s going to be there? Is it weird if I go? What if I want to leave? In the end, I’m so overwhelmed with all the questions, all the fake scenarios, that I just give up. “Maybe not tonight,” I’d respond, defeatedly. It’s a sad and tiring cycle. And I’m sure it’s one others can relate to as well. But I’d comfort myself with the notion that it’s all in the name of self care, when in reality, I was letting irrational fear control me. I feel the need to have complete knowledge and control of all possible scenarios and outcomes, which is where all the questions originate from. But sometimes, there really isn’t a way to know everything, which is something I’m trying to see as a good thing. When there are unknown factors, there are also possibilities, and there are chances for great things to happen. I’m learning to relinquish the control and just go with it.

Recently I’ve started to develop a new strategy: just say yes. Think as little as possible. And live, live, live, while you have the chance. For me, that’s honestly a bold course of action. And of course, this is obviously easier said than done. Usually every fiber of my body is screaming at me about all the possible ways things could go wrong. But what I’ve come to learn is that, more often than not, I have the most fun when I refuse to let my worries control my actions. Even after just short period of time spent determined to control these irrational worries, I can see the huge way it’s impacting my life and my relationships with those around me. Now, is this a good strategy for everyone? Of course not. There is power in saying “no” to things as well. But for me personally, I believe “yes” pushes me to be a better version of myself and ultimately makes me happier. Sometimes it’s helpful to acknowledge that thoughts only exist inside of my head, and that ultimately I have the power to overcome them.

Ellen Arvidson

Originally from Connecticut, Ellen is an English major at Saint Michael's College in Burlington, Vermont. She loves running, skiing, and anything to do with Broadway musicals.

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