When I first started working as a stylist, I said yes to everything.
Realistically, I was new to the industry. I loved fashion, and I was looking at fashion, but I wasn’t in fashion. If I wanted to be successful, I knew I had to learn as much as I could. And the only way I could do that, was by saying yes to every job.
I know a lot of other freelancers experience a similar pattern. It’s a real feast or famine mentality. There’s always the chance that you might not work next month, so you try to work as much as you can this month. You do everything, and tell yourself that it’s okay, because who knows, maybe one of these mediocre jobs could lead somewhere exciting.
For a long time, that’s just what it was like. I got signed to my agent in a situation that was so random, it felt like magic. And then came the recession. We were young, broke, and trying to do something new with inconsistent work.
So I said yes to everything. It didn’t really matter if the pay was appropriate, or if I was excited by the work. I just said yes.
And now, looking back, I wish I’d said a few more nos.
And when I say no, I mean really.. no. It’s like what Amy Poehler says, make ‘no’ a complete sentence. Not “no, I’m so sorry, I have to..” but just.. “no, I’m good” or “no, I don’t need that.”
You don’t always need an excuse. You can just say no. And listen -I’m still learning this. I still say yes when I damn well know it should be a no.
BUT here’s the thing. When you say no to the jobs that don’t feel right, you’re honoring your own goals, protecting your time, and listening to your own voice. In that way, it can never be the wrong decision. It’s about opening your life up for a job that is 100%, no doubt about it, YES.
You’re also being mindful of your community. By saying no, you’re leaving an opportunity open for someone else to say yes. And that yes could change their life.
So say no, when you can. It’s a risk, and sometimes, a total privilege. But do it. Because in a few years, you’ll look back, and you’ll see all those ‘nos’ as the exact moments that led you on a path that was more, authentically, you.
All because you learned to say…