The perpetual “yes.”
“Yes. Sure. Of course. No problem. I got it. Let me help you. How can I help you? What can I do for you?
I’ll figure it out. We can work it out. I’ll do it. I would love to. Seems great, thanks! “
My whole life has been about compliance. People pleasing. Pleasing parents, teachers, supervisors. Residency directors. Medical directors. Admissions counselors. Compliance officers. Nursing managers. Supervisors. In order to get to where I am today, I became the perpetual professional ‘yes man.”
In the process of trying to please everyone, I became paralyzed, incapable even, of being able to say “no.” While this concept was something I worked on in my personal life, I found myself struggling with the ability to succeed in giving myself the permission to enforce the same boundaries in my professional life.
Speaking with mentors, friends, and colleagues, this problem is ubiquitous and insidious. It is so easy to get caught up in the academic rigor of “do more, with less, and quick.” Take on committee assignments for “Credibility,” not compensation. Say “yes,” while wonder hoping that an honest “no” would have been the answer instead.
Is it because I feel privileged to be where I am? Is it a construct of how I actually got here? These questions have left me struggling, grappling. The “post-decision” wheel of regret, dreading, justifying and acquiescence.
As I challenge and empower myself to pursue professional happiness and fulfillment, I embrace the challenge to be honest. To say “yes” to what serves me, and my career, and my interests. To say “no” when it doesn’t. To think first, decide, and avoid the constant replay of “what if” I had answered differently.
I wish I could end this essay with a story of success and evoke the feeling of achievement and confidence women in medicine- and in all fields- have earned and deserved. I don’t think I have that yet. I do, though, know where to look for inspiration. I have a community of women and mentors and friends who have fought that fight valiantly. Who have emerged victorious, ready to tackle the next challenge on the road to professional fulfillment and success. I am grateful and will continue to work hard to follow in their footsteps as I forge my own path.