Say Yes

Say yes more. Just do it, what’s the worst that could happen? That’s what I decided would be my New Year’s resolution for 2022. Little did I know, the very next day one of my buddies from high school asked if I wanted to plan an 8 day ski trip to western Montana for his birthday at the end of the month, I only really had one answer to give: Absolutely! I’m an accomplished snowboarder from my years of instructing in college, and I’ve been snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains a bunch out in Utah so going to an area I’ve never been to sounded really enticing! I just had one major issue to clear up first that would end up completely changing my life.

This past June I took a job as a chemist at an environmental services company. I didn’t have a lot of experience doing chemistry aside from a few credit hours of chemistry lab work from my wildlife biology degree. I quickly found out they had mostly lied to me in the hiring process and basically wanted me to be an overpaid warehouse worker. Despite my hesitancy after finding out what the job really was, the money was good so I stuck it out. But the 60+ hour weeks of hard labor quickly took a toll and I knew I needed a way out, and fast. So what does this have to do with our ski trip? Keep reading and find out.

                So fast forward back to the beginning of January, I tell my (way too many) bosses that I’d be taking a week and a half off at the end of the month to go snowboarding, and I wouldn’t be using paid time off to do it. See, the company policy for paid time off was that it did not roll over year to year, and employees were not allowed to take vacation time without using accrued PTO. That would be a problem since I had only managed to accrue 6 hours of vacation time in the first few weeks of 2022, well short of the 60ish I’d need for the trip. And the bosses were not happy about it. They didn’t threaten to fire me outright, but it was made pretty clear that if I took the time off, I likely wouldn’t have a job to return to. But for some reason that didn’t scare me even a little bit. I wanted to quit that job within a few weeks of starting it. I did need the money, but it was getting to the point where I’d rather be broke and unemployed than keep busting my ass 60 hours a week for a big corporation that didn’t care about me enough to let me take unpaid time off to go on a ski trip. That was the push I needed.

                The very next day I put in my two weeks notice ( which frankly I didn’t think they deserved) with my last day being the day before I left for Montana. I was a little nervous about how they’d take the news considering how mad they were the day before when I told them I needed a week and a half off, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I put in my two weeks notice to my direct supervisor who I had a pretty good relationship with despite hating the job, and all I got back was “okay”. I wasn’t sure if he didn’t care I was leaving, was so angry he didn’t have anything to say to me, or just understood that I was fed up and the job just wasn’t for me. But I was taken aback. All that resistance the day before with just a simple “okay” the next day when I quit.

                So now what? I had two more weeks of stable income, an expensive ski trip, and then zero plans after that. Remember my New Years resolution? Say yes more. And while I originally intended it to mean say yes to opportunities and ideas from other people, I realized it had taken on another meaning since then. I needed to say yes to myself also. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting into writing as a career for a few years now but it never became more than an idea. Why? Because I kept telling myself no. “No you need a stable income”, “No, you spent 4 years getting a degree in biology, do something with that”, “No, nobody will like what I write”.  I was realizing now that I had never thought to say “Yes you can do this”. And so I did.

                So with that assumed constraint blown open, I decided I was going to go for it and got started writing. Of all the research I’ve done on freelance writing the most recurring advice I got was “just write”, so that’s what I did. I started writing about anything I could think of, and at the same time researching on how to get better at it. It was hard going at first, mostly from fighting my internal dialogue of “No that’s not good enough” and trying to change it to “Yes that’s great, keep going!” Soon everything I wrote started coming out faster and clearer, and I was critiquing myself a lot less.

So now I’m a few weeks into my “official” writing career, writing up this article in the lobby of a hotel in Whitefish, Montana, looking forward to 6 days of world class snowboarding and endless apres beers ahead of me, and I’m the happiest I’ve been in years. Will the anxiety of trying to pay my bills working in a field completely foreign to me, with no experience and little guidance eventually sink in? Probably. Will I let it fade the sense of freedom and happiness I got from this whole experience? Maybe. Will I stop saying yes, both to myself and other people. Absolutely not.

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