• Author Carry Petri

Life's a party, but you have to do the decorating yourself

"Will you write an article for the newsletter? We're planning a meeting, will you help? Can you organize the brainstorming session? Are you coming to our party?"

It's difficult for me to say "no."

"Yes, yes, yes! Yes, I'll write the article. Yes, I'll help plan the meeting. Yes, I'll organize the brainstorm, and yes, I'll come to the party..." To put it bluntly, it's very difficult for me to say "no." You may be thinking: "She's not assertive enough, she should really learn to say "no."

I don't want to say "no."

But that's not the case. I'm plenty assertive. I have no problem chasing away a door-to-door salesman, interrupting and then hanging up on the pushy saleswoman on the phone, or setting boundaries for my grandchild who is pestering me for candy or something. I can easily voice a clear, unequivocal "no." When I want to. So I am able to do it, but I don't do it very often because I don't want to say "no." Because I usually like doing stuff – or at least find it challenging.

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I'm a doer, a builder, and a unifier, and I have a lot of passions. So it's no wonder that I quickly become enthusiastic about things, like in the examples above. What's more, I often volunteer to do something even before someone asks me to do it. For example, my neighbor asked me a few weeks ago if I knew someone who is good at organizing. He was looking for someone to handle a few parts of the program at his upcoming wedding reception. I promptly answered: "Yes, I can do that for you. Just tell me what you need."

It soon became clear that this was a rather large task, almost impossible to do within the set short time frame. I was unable to do the job and had to quit. But I was really sorry about it. I do have good organizational skills, and I would have enjoyed doing the job. The problem was the time – something I often lack.

There are limits

The saying "Life's a party, but you have to do the decorating yourself" fits me like a glove. If you're like me and you're constantly decorating, then life is anything but boring. Although it can get hugely busy very quickly.

Because as great it is to be able to say "yes" to things I enjoy doing, as fantastic as it is to organize a meeting, dinner party, or workshop, how wonderful it is to have hobbies that help me relax and forget the time, how lovely it is to help people when I can... there are limits. Limits to the time I have available. Limits to my stamina. Limits to my strength. Limits to my possibilities.


Due to my characteristic overdosing on enthusiasm, I regularly went over my limits and became stressed. Through trial and error I've now learned to find more of a balance. But old habits are hard to break, which means that from time to time I still bite off more than I can chew ("Do not pass go, do not collect €200.").

But I am quicker to put on the brakes. Hurray! And that means saying "no" more often to all of the fun things that come my way. The moral of this story is: you're never too old to learn. So, that was my story. Now it's time to go decorating again.

Author: Carry Petri


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