Stuck on my fridge is a card with the slogan ‘stop me before I volunteer again’. I look at it every day and then every day, in small and big ways, I choose to ignore it. Or at least in my head I am screaming ‘no, no, no’ but I say, ‘of course it’s no trouble to take your aged incontinent dog for a couple of weeks while you drink your way around the Amalfi coast’. I am quite clearly A Woman Who Struggles To Say No.
I can handle helping in the rain at the school rounders club, baking 50 flapjacks for the charity cake sale, making up the numbers at a dinner with friends of friends and supporting a frazzled neighbour with childcare. It’s expected when you live in a small village on the edge of a small town in a rural community where help is currency. It’s just not great to do all of those things in one week.
Recently I have found I am doing the same at work. Getting loaded down with someone else’s project while they feel the heady relief of sharing the burden. Accepting more freelance work than I know is physically possible and setting my alarm for 4am. Feeling stressed about working all the time so I organise various socials with lovely friends which seem impossible to enjoy when I actually get there.
I blame a lot of it on FOMO. And my Mother. When we were young we always had waifs, strays and one half of a newly divorced couple (usually the male half) joining us for Sunday lunch. She was always on wild goose chases to rescue people and situations and help those in need without thinking of what she needed.
Sorry to moan. I know I am not the only one. You are probably just like me and you are reading this because you think I am going to have the answer. And technically, I do. Just say no. Like Phoebe from ‘Friends’ who charmingly declined invitations with ‘I wish I could but I don’t want to’. If you do I will too, just as soon as I have finished sewing 20 metres of bunting for a friend’s wedding.