Six weeks ago, I got rid of my smart phone. It’s something I’d been wanting to do for months.
I was tired of feeling the itch — that constant urge to check email or social media. I was tired of losing time to mindless Facebook scrolling, tired of becoming depressed or angered by unimportant status updates, rants, or clickbait articles posted by people I barely knew. I felt addicted, drained, and distracted.
So one day, Valerie and I took a trip to the AT&T store and I bought myself a dumb phone. My dumb phone can’t connect to the internet. It’s heavenly, my dumb dumb phone.
After switching to my dumb phone, I found myself less tolerant of other things in my life that weren’t feeding my spirit. I stopped trying to reply to all of the emails in my inbox (A new email policy will be coming out soon. In short, I’ve realized that I can better serve multipotentialites by spending my time creating work that will be published publicly and potentially help thousands, than I can by replying to hundreds of individual emails each week). I also started turning down most partnership offers and interviews.
Saying no has been hard. Replying to fewer emails has been hard. I don’t like hurting people’s feelings, and I hate when people are mad at me.
I remember times in the past when I would email someone with a larger community, get no reply, and feel snubbed. What a jerk they must be! I would think. I had no idea what it feels like to be inundated with attention and requests (it’s both wonderful and extremely overwhelming). In short, I lacked empathy. I didn’t think to imagine what the other person might be going through or dealing with.
But I try to feel empathy for my past-self that lacked it. And I try to feel empathy for anyone who might be angry or hurt by me not replying to their email or tweet. They don’t understand what it’s like, and that’s not their fault.
Multipotentialites love to add to our schedules. Our curiosity pulls us in new directions and we take on more and more. And you know, sometimes we’re in a season where saying ‘yes’ feeds us and is absolutely the right choice!
But other times, we need to practice saying no, sometimes in radical ways. Our mental health, not to mention the sustainability and quality of our work, might really depend on it.
How often do you say no? Is this something you struggle with?