I Dare You to Text Me

When our boys were toddlers, like all toddlers, they loved the word “no.” Looking back, I’m sure it’s the sense of power that “no” conveys upon the naysayer, especially when the naysayer is a small human who feels powerless in a world of grown-ups issuing orders. Somewhere along the path to adulthood, “no” goes from a thrilling power play that is guaranteed to get a rise from adults to a surefire way to provoke conflict. Conflict, for many of us, is something to be avoided.

A skill of adulthood is learning to use “no” with the same amount of joy that you feel when you say “yes.” One of the crappy parts of the writing life is hearing “no” a lot, from agents and publishers and readers who review you on Amazon. In the past, I’ve let those “no’s” shut me down. It’s only years later that I realize how far I could have gone if I had said, in the immortal words of Ariana Grande, “Thank you, next!” I think that being someone who hates saying “no” made me take the “no’s” I received far too seriously. I should have lightheartedly let those rejections roll off of me and continue on my merry way, writing the next thing that came to me. But a lot of the time, I let the no’s paralyze and silence me. To that, I now say NO.

When friend Clara texted me to ask if I would buy her a plane ticket to Italy, you can read my initial avoidance of “no” in an effort to make sure Clara doesn’t get upset with me. Instead, I tried to make a joke out of her question by saying “OMG not again!!.” Only when Clara prods me do I manage to spit out a “no.” And even though I knew I was supposed to say no, I still felt bad doing it!

2 thoughts on “I Dare You to Text Me

  1. Erica Louise

    Hi Laura,

    Hope you don’t mind my expanding this to something more general for a moment. What you write here brings to mind the ways people differ in how much they tend to take things to heart.

    We differ in how much we take to heart what is said/done to us. Same for what we say/do to others. To oversimplify, I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both tendencies.

    Please excuse if this is too presumptuous, as though I really enjoy your writing and online presence, I’ve only briefly met you in person.

    I’m very appreciative of and impressed by, and terribly fond of, the “heart-full” side of you. I think we need heartfulness in our world, perhaps now more than ever.

    Of course, depending on the situation, a heart-full response can be a “yes,” a “no,” or some combination of the two.

    In my experience, people who take things to heart can, in many situations, find it especially hard to say “no.” And there must somewhere be a healthy balance in the degree to which people take things to heart.

    Then, too, there’s the part about not running near empty. As a shout out to Prince and his (superior and more fun) airplane analogies, will say…sometimes you need to fuel up, and sometimes you need that oxygen mask.

    All that considered, I love how you are heart-full. The opposite tendency is often glamourized as “badass.” For what it’s worth, I believe that taking things to heart, and letting that be a big part of motivation for what gets said and done…I believe that this is the path that often requires relatively more courage.

    Sorry for yet another long-winded comment. That’s my two cents on the badass path.

    • lauratiebert

      Hi Louise, I re-read your comment this morning and I swear it was meant to be that I saw it again today, because someone had said something to me that I took to heart (per usual) and it upset me. I’m sure that it wasn’t meant to be as harsh a criticism as I took it, and even though intellectually, I know that, it was still impossible not to feel punched in the gut. Then, this weekend, I was told a story about Prince basically being a total asshole to someone who did nothing wrong except for asking him to pass a message to someone. He shot them down, gave them a withering look and made them horribly uncomfortable. And for what? I abhor that kind of badassery-gone-overboard behavior. Sigh! As you said, there is a balance to be struck between the “badass” and “heart-full” sides.

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