Note To Self

Why ‘No’ Is A Complete Sentence

In the latest edition of Note To Self, FW editor Emily Brooks reflects on the importance of saying 'no'.

By Emily Brooks

Note To Self

In the latest edition of Note To Self, FW editor Emily Brooks reflects on the importance of saying 'no'.

By Emily Brooks

A few years ago, Shonda Rhimes started saying yes. Yes, it’s hard to believe the woman behind Olivia Pope had fear, but yes, Shonda Rhimes did. She was terrified of going to famous parties and sitting with famous people and speaking at famous colleges, but in her Year of Yes she did something different. She attended parties with Oprah, and sat in the presidential box with the Obamas, and delivered Dartmouth’s commencement speech. In fact, she grew from it and hasn’t looked back since. But in her Year of Yes, which has since made her a New York Times bestselling author, Shonda Rhimes learned to say no.

If you don’t know who the hell Shonda Rhimes or Olivia Pope are, Olivia Pope is the main character in Scandal, a show Rhimes created along with Greys Anatomy, How to Make a Murderer and a heap of other TV shows people obsess over. So basically, a classic overachiever who now receives a bunch of requests. But fame doesn’t change the nature of life’s requests. There may be more and they may seem fancier, but they still arrive in the form of two universal categories: opportunities or obligations. And as life isn’t endless, but a series of choices, saying yes to some opportunities requires saying no to other obligations. In her Year Of Yes, Rhimes discovered the trade off. “There was this sort of yes to no ball going on there. Which meant I got a lot more frank and a lot more upfront with people, which was really good for me,” Rhimes told Oprah on Supersoul Conversations. “That came from a sort of epiphany… I started saying yes to telling people what I think. You can’t say yes to everything and then not say yes to taking care of yourself.”

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