Words by Nicolas, 24 QLD
Out loud, on paper or just in your head. It’s a simple motto to live by, it reinforces positivity, and generally the “yes” ethos can do wonderful things for you. When you feel a bit bummed about things not going right, you remember to “keep your nose to the grindstone…” which reminds you that yes, you can get through it.
While the yes motto is well-known to keep us on the straight and narrow, sometimes we can get tunnel vision. I’ve learnt saying no can help us to burst out of our cages and re-fuel our motivations. Saying no can help us break the circuit and motivate us to make change based on our needs and not societies. No is a form of micro-protest, whether protesting a thought of your own or others, it can be a symbol of rebirth, radical thinking and a change for the better.
For me, adopting the “no” started when I was thinking about my health at the end of my teens, not just how I looked but how I felt in general. I had grown accustomed to accept a certain lifestyle. I loved sitting around till the early hours on the Xbox but I could feel the outside world yelling out to me. I wanted to get involved, I wanted to be a part of it.
It wasn’t that I listened to too many Joe Rogan podcasts and felt I had to “live hard”.
It wasn’t that I’d seen too many adverts of rock-hard abs.
I simply wasn’t feeling great and I wanted to change because I didn’t feel like the real me.
That day I decided to no longer accept what didn’t serve my goals.
That day I decided to take control of my future.
I opened the door and stepped through into a new terrifying reality, all my own.
First, I had to say no to eating whatever, whenever I wanted; no to sitting inside all day playing Xbox and no to socialising that only involved my headset-clad community.
Then I was able to re-calibrate my motivation and shift back into the yes frame of mind.
The first step was joining a gym, seeing some people to learn what’s best for beginners and using my great friend the internet to start learning without a thought of stopping. My diet changed. I didn’t have any weight goals; I was just working towards feeling healthy – this mindset becoming a norm for me was a victory in itself. No one had to know I was working towards this, only I did.
Back then I was 120kg and unhappy.
Two years later, I was 90kg and feeling good.
Now five years later, I’m 86kg and feel truly spectacular.
But it wasn’t the kilos departing my body that made me proud, it was the kilos of doubt leaving my mind.
All I needed was to say no, because in my mind when I said yes, it meant finding comfort in being mediocre, in being just fine. I am better than fine though. When I shifted my perspective and backed myself, change was a certainty, instead of something to fear.
We need to have the fire in our belly ignited. We need to feel that discomfort that makes us stand up and do something about it. For me, it was the self-check-in. Focusing our energy inwards can foster some of the most incredible transformations we never thought possible. But it takes motivation, a commodity which can seem to fluctuate more than the price of crude oil.
Many of us can relate to how freeing it is to display our true selves to the world without fear of judgement or ridicule. I finally found the courage to stare at who I was and to see whether it matched my goals.
Our true value can only be seen and assessed by ourselves. Just like any other value, it can change. As it starts to drop, our minds like to level us out by embracing societal mediocrity. Assessing what we value in life and making the decision to say no to unnecessary baggage can help us to not only bring our self-worth back up to what we deserve, but off the goddamn chart.
This goal never seemed attainable for me. Neither did finishing university, getting a job at a radio station or learning to love broccoli, but I bloody did all of them.
Remembering “I bloody did it” fills me with pride every morning I wake up and wiggle my toes.
Illustration by Aileen, You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenetc