Learning To Say “No”

As tomorrow starts the very busy holiday season I thought this was would be fitting to post today.

A lot of people are very comfortable with saying “no”, if that’s you; I applaud you! For others, saying “no” is very difficult.

I think I’m pretty good at saying no for the most part, but in certain circumstances to with certain people, I struggle with it too.

Why is this bad? Well it’s not necessarily. But the inability to say “no” when it is affecting you negatively can be a big fault. My parents for example, are huge “yes” people. They have the hardest time saying “no”. Even to their own children (we are all grown up now- when we were kids it was a different story). But for instance, I will invite them over for brunch or something, they agree; later my brother will invite them for something at the same conflicting time- I often find out by someone else they have been invited at the same time I am expecting them and have to approach them myself about not feeling guilty if they choose to go with my brother instead. It seems so silly to me and drives me nuts! Just tell either of us, “sorry, we have plans”. In that regard, I’m excellent at saying no. Even at coming up with excuses on the spot as to why I can’t make it to something if I’m not into it, hehe.

However, I too struggle in saying “no” to some people; like my parents or certain family gatherings- or like this event that happened just a few weeks ago.

Whenever given the opportunity to be charitable or help others, I like to take it. Especially now that I’m “unemployed” and have more free time. So, a few weeks into me planning the biggest showcase of the year at the aerial studio, a fellow instructor approached me about donating my time in performing at a fundraiser event she was planning for treatment of her sick mother. Without question, I said of course. Timing of the event wasn’t ideal to say the least as I was balls deep in planning the showcase as well as training for it but again, donating my performance seemed like such a small thing I could do to help.

The event was being hosted at my aerial studio so several of the perfumers assumed I had information on the fundraiser and I did not. As days went on, another fellow instructor and myself realized the show was not ready at all; this was only one week before its live date. We quickly learned, there were no sale tickets or other prep work had been done, so along with moving the date a few weeks this other instructor took the reins and I offered to help as much as I could with getting the event ready.

Communication throughout the entire process was pretty poor. I am pretty organized, especially when planning events, trips or things of the sort; so not having all the information or hearing different pieces of information from various parties was very frustrating. That in addition to the fact that we were 2 weeks to showtime and still only had about 12 ticket sales.

About 10 days before the event we all received an email from the instructor putting the show together that was an entire playwright of the show. We hadn’t rehearsed at all, nor was a rehearsal ever discussed. Directions in the script had cues like “dim lights” (something the studio is no equipped to do), “change backdrop to white” (also cannot be done on the spot), “performer 1….” followed by some lines or acted out parts. Umm? I reached out to her and expressed my concerns with the script and rehearsals hoping to be realistic and black and white on the expectations of the show. To which she replied saying I was being negative and needed to have faith it would all come together on day of. Now, I’m not here to discuss faith, whether you believe or not- but I do know that putting an event together takes work and a lot of it. Being positive and having faith are not going to magically get the work done.

To be completely transparent, that pissed me off.

Here I am trying to offer not only my help but very useful insight into putting a show together, having dealt with the same space and many of the same performers, yet because I didn’t reply what she wanted to hear, I am negative. Ok.

2 days later, 8 days to showtime- I hear from someone else, she expects us all to wear white.


So now you are assuming everyone has a white performance outfit, or you are asking not only that they donate their time with performance, but go out and buy an outfit 8 days prior to show time.

Also, she asked us to submit our songs for approval.

5 days to show- we are now told we need to have bird like make up & feathers.


All of this while I know we still have less than 20 ticket sales, she hasn’t confirmed any items for auction, an of course no rehearsal.

The other instructor that had basically taken over the entire show, was also incredibly frustrated because getting simple answers like what time will doors open, weren’t happening. It seemed like things would be discussed and confirmed, then at some point she’d forget what she confirmed and changed everything all over again.

At the same time performers were coming to me complaining and concerned with demands in wardrobe and make up so close to the show.

In efforts to be an advocate for my students, I approached her once again, and again I got terrible responses, saying I was stressing her out and not helpful. That evening I planned to speak with her in person and say I didn’t think I was a good fit to help in her event and I’d be much better help if she simply assigned me a task and I donated funds to her cause. I didn’t love the feeling of backing out so close to showtime, but the mental exhaustion from everything that was going on in the background was beyond draining. And nothing felt good about it.

When I spoke with her that evening, to my surprise we actually had a very nice conversation where we simply agreed things were being lost in translation and we both assumed fault where it was needed. The three of us, came up with a list of things that still needed to be done, and she agreed to delegate and let us handle it so she could focus on ticket sales the last few days. With this, she asked me to take over the silent auction. So I did- from head to toe I put the silent auction together.

Things seemed to be looking up, until…

The night before the show, this was our only and final rehearsal. She was quite rude and seemed to be in a power trip with the performers. I chalked it up to stress before the show and went about my night. However, late this night I receive a text from the other instructor telling me the “curator” of the fundraiser was talking about chaining the silent auction to a raffle instead.

I quite literally lost it. That was just the last straw on top of everything else. Sure, I didn’t spend weeks working on it, and didn’t spend hundreds of dollars- but I did spend an entire day and some money putting the auction together and setting up it up to look visually appealing. So you are now telling me that on top of your demands to buy a new outfit, make up, request to set up the silent auction, you are not going to just raffle things off instead?

And listen, this is her show- she is free to do as she pleases. But if you are catching my drift here, changing something like this less than 24hrs before the show is exactly how the entire planning process went. Furthermore, why ask someone to waste time doing something you are unsure of?

At that point I made up my mind that if she changed from a silent auction to a raffle I would not perform at the event. Not because of pride, but because I literally mentally and emotionally had just had too much. And on top of it to have my work thrown away, it was just something I could no longer bare. So I got in group text with her and the other instructor that had been arranging and planning everything and I inquired on the confusion with the silent auction. To my disappointment, instead of being honest she completely lashed out on the other instructor that happens to be her close friend and blamed her for making me feel a certain way.

At this point I was stuck, because I didn’t have an out of the show but I felt terrible for the instructor that actually did all the work for the show! I didn’t feel right or good about anything I had done to help or donated to the event anymore and my heart was not in my performance. I hated that, because I love aerial and I love performing; but I just could not wait to get it over with and be done with the whole thing.

The event was “successful”. I use quotations because no one knows how much money she ended up raising- but she did leave the silent auction and all items had winning bids, she ended up selling close to 50 admission tickets, and her donation based bar was busy the whole night.

At the end, she gave her thank yous, which barely mentioned us in passing. The next day wanting to just put good vibes out there and close book, I text her congratulating her on a good show to which I got no reply to.

After the event, I slept for 2 days straight!

Now, at which point should I have said “no” here? I struggle with this because looking back I can’t find a tangible redeeming quality to all this. Yes, visually, the fundraiser appears to have been a success, but how much funds did she really raise knowing how much she spent on other things that didn’t need to be spent? I can only hope it was in fact a worthy event for all the work and stress that went into it.

Having this behind me it’s easy to see that I should to have performed at the show. I should have found other ways to help or contribute to her cause. The stress, negativity and volatile energy thrown at me was simply not worth it, and never ok. I try and have been focusing quite a bit on my mental health and well being- and I feel this set me back quite a bit. I was hesitant to say no because it was for a good cause. What kind of person would I be if I said no, or backed out? But again, given the stress, it would have been much better for all of us if I donated or helped in a different manner.

So as the busy end of the year season is upon us- don’t be afraid to say no. Yes, parties are fun, but do you need to go to multiple parties in one day? Is doing so going to cost you your mental well being? Or add unnecessary stress? Case an argument between you and loved ones? If the answer is yes, then prioritize those that are really important or the most fun for you, and politely decline on those that simply don’t fit in.

And my final two cents on this- never feel guilty for saying no to something that is not lifting you up!

With that, hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving weekend and beginning to this holiday season!





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