My schedule was full of responsibilities. I had a bunch of social commitments I didn’t want to attend. My email inbox was loaded with stuff like offers from TV streaming companies, auto loan companies and credit cards. My home mailbox was filled with hardcopies of the same stuff. I also subscribed to a bunch of services that I didn’t need. In my quest to get after life, my list of goals kept growing and many weren’t essential. When acquaintances, non-profits or other entities asked for help I almost always said yes…and while all this was going on I was having health complications. My body was breaking down and I was losing a bit more of my mobility. What was once something easy for me to do, now became more difficult. This is life, if we’re lucky to live long enough then our bodies will break down, although mine a bit earlier than others. I definitely needed to change some things.
As the tasks stacked up, why couldn’t I just say no? I often said yes because I felt obligated. I had this belief system of helping even if helping negatively impacted me and I didn’t want to disappoint others. I remember times when I was balancing a career, parenting, maintaining a household, training for events, building a platform, volunteering or promoting various organizations and at the same time I am hearing horrifying predictions from doctors about my health, yet I would still take on more responsibilities. I needed to learn how to opt out.
Opting out is not something new, but it’s an idea I didn’t incorporate enough in my life. To me, opting out means to choose not to participate. This idea is used by companies such as the outdoor gear and brand co-op REI where they close their doors on Black Friday and encourage customers to #optoutside instead of participating in Black Friday shopping. Similarly, opting out is romanticized in books such as Henry David Thoreau’s Walden where he opts out of society and moves to the woods to live deliberately and focus on the essentials.