About a month ago I walked into a bread shop and got offered a job. They needed someone in their kitchen and I bake bread far more often than I need to (there are three loaves of bread in my freezer right now and my fridge is half populated by bagels, rolls and the end of a challah). How could I say no?
Except, they needed someone from 11pm to 4am and I work full time from 8am to 4pm. I said, “Can I have time to think about it?”
I’ve thought about it. I keep thinking about it. But I haven’t responded to their email about whether I will take the job. The answer is no, I can’t take the job. But on some level, I can take the job.
I get off work at 4 and get home by 4:30. I could sleep until 10:30pm or so, get up and go to the bakery until 4am, get writing done until 6am then get ready for my day job.
I’m not going to do this. I need to remind myself every day that I’m not going to do this.
But it’s an impossible task to admit I can’t add something new to my plate. It’s an impossible task to say no. I work full time and hold 4 different writing positions. I’m manage the blog for Luna Station Quarterly, write literary magazine reviews each month for New Pages, read fiction for Five on the Fifth, and am an editor for Polychrome Ink.
I can’t say no. As women, we must work twice as hard to earn half the recognition as men, and saying no to a professional opportunity is a stupid move. You’re backing out before you’ve even tried! You’re selling yourself short! You are admitting defeat.
My goal is always excellence. My goal is to be the best. But my goal must also be to be kind to myself.
And saying no, in any and every context, is a matter of consent. Being a feminist is not about competing with the boys to show you’re just as capable. It’s about trusting yourself and listening to your voice, even when no one else will notice you’re speaking. It’s about learning to say no and taking control of your life.
Saying no, even to an opportunity, is a feminist decision.