The Regret and Relief of No

Learning how to say No has been a struggle for me over my lifetime. Ever since I was bit by the improv bug as a teenager, I've generally been a 'Yes, And' kind of gal, enjoying every opportunity thrown my way. Now, I need to be clear. Nothing monumental crossed my plate recently. Every day seems pretty similar to the last few, but it's amazing how even a very simple choice of a "No" in my seemingly monotonous mediocre life has struck me in a way I never anticipated.

Last week I had the opportunity and drive to do something I've been longing to try for a while. Oddly enough that thing was actually something I had hoped to blog about, but alas - here we are. There was an open window, other parties were involved,  I had even set out a goal to do it. But when the time came to get it done,  I made a choice and said 'Not now.' And it was hard. A part of me kept thinking 'What if that was your only chance?' But then I remembered that it's never too late for anything - unless of course you're dead.

Know who is pretty good about saying No? Keanu! Obviously. That's what this whole blog is about

Remember Speed 2? ... Sorry. Let me rephrase that. ...Remember how FOX thought making Speed 2 was a good idea? Yeah - I never watched it either but apparently I should maybe be grateful for that.

Remember how Speed 2 was missing Keanu? That's because he made the choice to say 'No!' And I am confident it wasn't an easy choice. Fox Studios and Speed really launched Keanu's stardom. He had many credits to his name before it, but Speed made Keanu a household name. How do you say 'No' after that? His No not only cost him the $11 million contract, but it also cost him over 10 years of working with one of Hollywood's biggest studios. His one 'No' put him on FOX's 'Do Not Hire' list for over a decade.

So why did he make that choice? INTEGRITY! He read the script and knew that they were not going to be able to bottle that lightning, so he passed. And you know what he did instead? He took a huge paycut to do one of the things he had always longed to do as an actor - play Hamlet on stage. If there was ever a lesson in being true to yourself and your priorities, this is it!

Again - my tiny little no does not even kind of compare to Keanu's. Nevertheless, he helped remind me that sometimes you really have to trust your gut, and when something says 'Not now' then maybe you should listen, and just accept all that comes with that decision. Opportunities will come and go. And sure - they could be gone for a whole decade or more. But there are always other things you can do, and presumably those other things are the reason why you're saying No to begin with. There's nothing wrong with occasionally swapping out a usual "Yes, And" with an occasional and necessary self care "No, But."


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