Today is known as International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrate the contributions and achievements of women. It’s an occasion to recognize where we’ve been and where we intend to go; a day to encourage one another with love, with hope and with truth. It’s an annual opportunity to acknowledge our worth and offer our words on behalf of the universal sisterhood that is WOMEN.
While I’m typically a woman of many words, I’ve only one to share today – NO. The negative expression is clambering through my thoughts, pleading – with folded fists and fluttering eyelashes -for an introduction.
So, without further ado:
Sisters, please meet NO.
NO, I’d like to acquaint you with womankind.
May this be the beginning of a dynamic and powerful relationship.
Most females have been socially conditioned to oblige. We learn, as early as toddlerhood, that “keeping the peace” is more important than “speaking our piece.” We’re trained to assimilate at any cost and convinced that there is no amount of nonconformity that can’t be subdued by consumerism. (Think about it, the fashion, cosmetic, beauty, fitness and diet industries all capitalize on our obsession with comparison and our desire to be like the air-brushed, digitally altered girl in the magazines. They stay in business through our bondage.) As women, we’re indoctrinated with the responsibility of delighting others both visually and vocally. We aren’t supposed to rough the waters, we’re to tread them, no matter how exhausted, scared, or plain old disinterested we are.
We, women, fear that “NO” is a word not welcomed from our mouths and accordingly, when it produces its contentious sounds within our hearts we scramble to silence them with any reason, no matter how inconvenient, to speak “YES” instead. We declare “YES” to jobs we don’t want, social events we dread, volunteer positions we don’t feel passionate about, food and drinks we don’t desire, shoes we can’t walk in and favors we don’t want to give – simply because we think that we should. We believe the unwritten rule that “NO” is quite an unladylike thing to say. And it is the devastating pressure of this belief that imprisons so many of us in damaging relationships, unhealthy work environments, overwhelmed lifestyles, destructive thought patterns and restricting undergarments.
Sisters, I want to be clear: “NO” is certainly a powerful word, but it is not inherently evil. It is a matter of preference, not piety. The vocalization of your negative inclinations has no bearing on your worth. But, compromising your sanity and your integrity for the sake of placation can prove disastrous. Your “NO” – if it’s your TRUTH – is your human right (and responsibility) to express.
Consider Rosa Parks. Sixty years ago, she spoke her own NO and started a revolution. Her voice made way for the peaceful protests of numerous men and women who shared the outrageous (AND OH-SO-ACCURATE) conviction that racial segregation was shamefully unjust. Rosa’s infamous word, declared from her seat on a Montgomery City bus, prompted a year-long boycott and countless other demonstrations demanding racial equality.
One heartfelt NO, from one heroic woman, left one huge mark on history.
Rosa’s legacy begs the question: What beautiful consequences will NO create in your life, your community and your world? Aren’t you curious to discover what happens when you apply your freedom to decline and exercise your prerogative to disagree?
On this, International Women’s Day, may you be inspired to shake your head, turn your thumb down and proudly proclaim your contrary opinions. May you be inspired to make
history HERstory with your newfound friend, NO.
BY NO MEANS.UH-UH.NEGATIVE.
NAY.NO THANKS.ABSOLUTELY NOT.