“Tyece, you don’t have to explain yourself.”
My wonderful graphic designer told me that a few weeks ago when I shifted course and opted out of one of the promotional pieces we had originally discussed. She and I have worked together for almost two years now, so I’m not sure why I felt the need to come up with some elaborate explanation about my decision. Yet, I did. Despite the fact that I was working off of my instincts and my graphic designer trusted my judgment, I still felt the need to annotate what I was saying.
Maybe it’s something that has been ingrained in women for awhile, the notion that “No” can not and does not serve as a complete sentence. We don’t always feel quite that confident saying “I don’t want to do that” or “I’ve changed my mind” unless it’s accompanied by some sort of justification. As seemingly resolute as I can be in my decisions, they hardly ever come without a lot of questioning, contradiction and explanation.
I wish it weren’t that way. And, it isn’t always. I have learned how to just say “no” to the people who know me best without providing much of an explanation. I do it to some of my close friends often. I trust that they know if and when I want to go or be somewhere, I will. If not, they don’t press me for much background about my decision. But, I also just declined going on vacation with a friend and felt the need to tell her I already had my summer trips lined up (true, but still, unnecessary.)
And, I don’t think it’s just about saying “no.” It often times feels like with any and every decision we make, good or bad, we can’t quite verbalize it without an explanation. When I decided last year to hold off on writing a book, I wrote a blog post explaining why. When I vent to a friend about any sort of issue, I often times feel like I need to apologize. When I change my mind about virtually anything, I feel like I need to reveal every bit of my decision-making process. It’s a very unnecessary approach to things that usually just exhausts me.
Because, life usually grants us a few people who understand and receive us no matter what. They do not require explanations, dissertations, excuses or whatever else it is we want to conjure up. My best friend is one of those people. As I spewed earlier about everything and nothing and about how I felt like a weak person for feeling a specific type of way, she very quickly assured me that I’m 24 years old and I’m allowed to change my mind. I’m allowed to contradict myself. I’m allowed not to always be the strong and put-together person I strive so hard to be.
You need the people in your life like that, the people who remind you not to take yourself too seriously because they have seen you at your best and your most broken. They knew you before you became a semi-decent human being, before you learned corporate lingo, before you earned a salary or an apartment or anything else the world believes legitimizes you. You need the people who knew you before you even knew you, before you morphed into who you are now. They will never think less of you if you make a wrong turn or crack at your seams. And it is only with those people around that you’ll remember you never have to explain yourself; to be precisely who you are is more than enough.