Toward the end of 2020, I made a promise to myself to do more of what scared me. A notoriously introverted and shy being, I tend to be scared of a lot of things. All of which were magnified in our isolated state that was the year 2020. In isolation There was no motivation, no excitement, I found myself in a continuous state of discontent. It got to the point where my comfort zone was making me more uncomfortable by the day. I wanted more out of life, more than what was in the bubble I created for myself. It was because of this that I decided to start my very own Year of Yes journey.
Inspired by the book Year of Yes by legendary writer Shonda Rhimes, I started to take charge of my life. In Rhimes’s book, she stated that it only took one small string of words to make her want to start her year of yes. “You never say yes to anything.” Now, as a fellow introvert, this was a statement that I heard quite often and though my journey started in a similar fashion the sentiment was much different. Mine was “ you need to get a life”, and surprisingly the person who said it to me was the person looking back at me in the mirror. I was at my wit’s end. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. So naturally, upon realizing this, my journey started almost immediately.
The first stop on this journey was the creation of my very own magazine. The idea had come to me while I was in the middle of my photojournalism class. My professor had asked the class what types of photography we would like to delve into as we found ourselves far ahead of schedule for the semester. Of course, being me, I turned on my mic and camera in the midst of our zoom class and let out an enthusiastic “fashion photography!” and it seemed I wasn’t alone. A friend of mine who happened to be a photographer herself expressed interest as well and the idea was born.I brought my pitch to my school’s fashion organization of which I was the creative director, complete with a full draft magazine and page layout which was met with an unenthusiastic “you can try it.”
I quickly set up a team and gained members and set up our first photoshoot, things were going smoothly until I got a call that the president would no longer want to go forward with the idea, not because it was a bad one but because I was the one running it. I had a choice: I could let it go and accept defeat or I could take what I’d learned and expand upon it, establishing an entity all my own without the cushion (financially and otherwise) of my school organization. Thankfully I chose the latter. I said yes to myself. With the help of some amazing friends, I created my own magazine which has led me to more opportunities to say yes.
But trust me, my yeses did not always leave me unscathed. One yes, in particular, was saying yes to the first dinner date since the pandemic first began. The guy was an old elementary school classmate who I hadn’t seen since my eighth-grade graduation. It was on that very graduation day that I vowed to myself that I would leave all my middle school memories and people behind me in the hopes to start anew. A vow that I’d kept for seven years until 8 pm on a random Saturday night as I sat across from my now grown-up classmate.
After what seemed like a lifetime of having to defend myself from his opposition to my life choices, like wanting to live on my own or choosing to put off marriage until after I’m established in my career, or even choosing a career path that makes my happy, it became clear that this was the last time we would be seated across from each other. It also became clear that my eighth grade graduation day vow would start again promptly when the clock struck 12. So imagine my surprise when only a week later I would be having my first appointment with my new general doctor who just so happened to be the father of my failed date. I know right straight out of a movie scene.
But that’s just the thing, both the highs, and lows of saying yes are what make it so great. Because while they don’t always leave you feeling on top of the world, they always leave you with something. More often than not, saying yes to yourself and saying yes to the things that scare you prompt a stomach-turning response, but I’m learning, that is the feeling you should run toward. That feeling is what leads to experiences that give you stories to tell experiences to think about and learn from.
And no saying yes it’s not always easy. Heck, a year of yes can be terrifying. It isn’t just saying yes to the easy thing like going to a party or going out on a date. Sometimes it’s saying yes to speaking your mind even when others are against you and sometimes it’s saying yes to saying no and allowing yourself to make choices for the betterment of your life. So whether that yes leads you to start a business or meet the love of your life or God forbid sitting on the doctor’s table of the father of last week’s awful date take it, celebrate it, regret it even, but keep saying it. Keep saying yes.