There are certain words that I have a really tough time saying. For some reason, reaching for the 'c's in "arctic" trips me up at times. "Susceptible" just has too many 's' sounds too close together. But the word "no" seems to give me more trouble than any other.
Most two-year olds that I've met have the word down pat. A lot of teenagers have perfected it when it comes to their parents' wishes. Many politicians have perfected it to the point where they can say it without ever saying the word (provided that you're listening closely). And yet so many times the word reaches my lips, I'm ready to say it, and it just won't come out. It's a two-letter word--how difficult can it be? For me...exceptionally difficult.
There's a fine line between wanting to be there for people and wanting to be liked by people. I toe that line regularly, if not jump over and back (and over and back...and over and back...). I'm a people pleaser. It's a distinction that has its pluses (at least that's what I keep telling myself), but a greater number of minuses. If I'm involved in a group, I want everyone else involved to be having a good time. Which tends to make me try to be extremely active. Which makes event organizers ask me if I'd be interested in helping to organize. Which I have trouble saying no to. Which leaves me with way too many things to do. Which leaves me cranky and wanting to withdraw from everything (hey...you can't be asked to do anything when you don't go anywhere, right?). Which leaves people unhappy with me. Which works against everything I was shooting for initially.
So the goal is to stick with the things where I really have a passion. Right now, that's focused around being a board member for a local community theater. It's a group that I was introduced to six years ago, and I can't see spending my summers any other way, whether I'm on stage or not. I was extremely flattered to be asked to be on the board, and I feel a great sense of reward in the work. And that's so important to me. There are a few other organizations to whom I've given some level of verbal commitment where I don't feel the same level of passion. But since I couldn't say that two-letter word beginning with "n" and ending with "o", I still feel obligated (darn overdeveloped sense of responsibility!). And here's the tricky part: I don't want to disassociate myself from those organizations. All of them are good organizations with good people. And some are organizations where I'd still be willing to take on an occasional role as a leader. But I don't feel strongly enough to take on that mantle on a regular basis.
So it's probably not a matter of a flat-out "no" in many cases. Perhaps more of a "not right now", "perhaps on a limited basis", or "not in a leadership role".
But practicing saying it might not hurt, either. Just in case.