I once read a powerful book by Shonda Rhimes titled – The Year of Yes. In the book, she recounts how she underwent a life transformation after deciding that for an entire year she would say yes to everything that challenged her. When fear set in, she would say yes. When life got tough and she wanted to quit, she would say yes to the opportunity to persevere. When speaking engagements came her way, to which she would ordinarily say no, she would choose to say yes. When her health was down in the pits, she would say yes to working out and joining the gym. She decided that for an entire year, she would say yes. Regardless of how challenging, how frightening or how she would grapple with fear, she would choose to say yes in the face of all that.
Interestingly enough I was reading this book in my year of no. Surprisingly, it was not my year of saying no to people or things. It was the year I received more NO’s than I could begin to count. In the midst of what looked to the world as my happiest time due to the accolades that I received in the year 2018, it was one of the most stressful years. The entire year was spent with me receiving rejection letters every other Monday morning. I received rejections to proposals, university applications, job applications and funding requests. I spent the time, with my head buried in work, vowing to give my all regardless of how many rejection letters I received.
What did this teach me? To be honest, I grapple with the lessons myself, because no one ever wants to admit to themselves something as profound as – it just was not meant to be. The statement – it just was not meant to be – suggests that regardless how much work you put in, how much you wanted it, how much you were qualified to have it, it simply was not meant to be. It was not your door to walk through, it was not what your life journey is intended to be. It discounts the tears shed, the disappointment felt, the heartbreak and the nervous breakdowns. It discounts the feeling in your spine of anxiety, wondering when will it be your turn. It discounts the feeling of carrying the world on your shoulder, feeling like you are in a rut with no way out. It discounts every single emotion that comes with that, however, let me ask you something… would you much rather spend years chasing after something that is not meant to be?
Come back next week as we uncover – the year of NO.
*Mavis Braga Elias is a Civil Engineer by qualification and a Marketing Officer by profession. A philanthropist of heart and founder of the EM Love Foundation. She won the Vivid Philanthropist award in 2015 and the Queens Leaders Awards 2018. Catch up with Mavis:
Twitter – @maviselias; Instagram – @maviselias; Facebook – fb.me/mavis.braga