Say “No” to Nothing

If you read The Prince and The Fox two weeks ago — thank you. I’m honored that you considered my admittedly emotional, raw, personal thoughts worth reading, even on the holiday weekend.

To those who reached out after reading — thank you for reaching out. I cannot tell you how much that means to me. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for you, your time, and your words. A couple of you may have made me cry. (Only my trash can will ever know the truth.)

Since there is, apparently, a wider collection of people reading my blog than I anticipated… Hello, please make yourselves at home. Would you like any tea or cookies?

While I wholeheartedly welcome you, I also have to warn you: I am not Taylor Swift, but I will write about you.

Gif Courtesy of giphy

If I were to join a dating app, I should make that my bio. (Swipe right anyway because curiosity killed the cat; swipe left because ain’t nobody got time to be dragged like Joe Jonas, John Mayer, Harry Styles, or Calvin Harris.)

In plainer terms: If I interact with you during the week, there’s a chance that my thoughts about our conversation will appear in an upcoming post.

The reason why I say I’m not T. Swizzle is because I actually take great care to make sure other people can’t figure out who I’m writing about — unless, of course, that person is you, then I hope you know I’m referring to you.

I reveal a lot about myself, but I have a great deal of respect for people’s privacy. While I may mention our conversation to others, I don’t recount telling details. If they’re innocuous, like calling me the wrong name, then that’s a different story.

All the same — if you’d prefer not to be mentioned, please let me know. I respect that, and I respect you.

To use all of these topics as a springboard — I caught up with an old friend recently. He texted me out of a three-year-long blue, asking if I was free for a meal the next day. Later, he called to ask if I was actually free that day.

My reaction: abundantly confused, pleasantly surprised, incredibly down.

We ended up meeting the next day, gave each other the SparkNotes version of our lives, and during one part of our conversation, swapped stories about our respective experiences on dating apps.

Apparently, a common line on women’s dating profiles was “Adventurous, but down to stay at home and watch Netflix on a Friday night.”

Photo Courtesy of Death to the Stock

This led us to have a conversation about how there is, apparently, an ideal image of a woman who both wants to try new things, but also doesn’t party to the point where she doesn’t care to, for lack of better terminology, Netflix and chill — literally and metaphorically.  

But my friend and I both wondered: Are all these people actually getting out there and being “adventurous?” (Dying to consult the OED right now.)

I’m certain most people have a list of things they want to do now or some time in the future. It might be written, it might be memorized well enough that they don’t even need to write it down. But regardless of the form of this list, many people just don’t get to doing these things.

We get too busy, make excuses, think we have more time later, or we just…don’t do it.

I’m not a psychologist or a people expert, but as an introvert who, about six months ago, was told by her longest-standing friend to “say yes to everything, say no to nothing” — sometimes you have to just do it. Nike.

Photo Courtesy of Roberto Nickson | Crew

It was during this conversation that I realized — I’d spent my last semester at Berkeley throwing myself into so many different things that no two weeks in the 14-week semester was ever the same. In week 13, I was still saying, “Next week will be calmer.” Sitting on a throne of lies, I was.

After graduation, after entering the freedom of not having grades or finals — I somehow became stagnant.

I feel a little sheepish. During the semester, a close friend had told me, explicitly, “You’re going out and trying all these different things all the time, being spontaneous when you’re normally so tied to regularity — I’m so impressed, and I wish I could be like you.”

PSA: It’s possible to be guilt-tripped by a memory.

Pure Barre Berk
Free barre class at 8 am, check | Photo Courtesy of Pure Barre Berkeley Facebook

During my last semester, I tried at least four new fitness classes. I went rock climbing. I took archery. I played badminton. I went social dancing. I kitchen-hopped and learned to adapt my kitchen habits to others. I took myself out on food adventures in West Berkeley, long walks to all of the grocery stores in the area, and solo dinner dates on Thursday nights at Elmwood Café.

If there was anything I could say “yes” to, I said “yes.” As for the words of that longest-standing friend… We both knew I wouldn’t actually get myself into terribly shady business, so the line “say yes to everything, say no to nothing” didn’t have to come with caveats.

This week, because of my old-fresh guilt of not trying new things for myself, I decided to be adventurous and knock two items off my own list:

Learn to pole dance and learn to dance bachata.

On Tuesday, I went to a pole dance class. On Wednesday, I went to a bachata class. And both of them were everything I hoped and dreamed they would be.

I left both classes feeling exhilarated and breathless from the overwhelming feeling of satisfaction that comes from doing something you’ve wanted to do for years and loving it even more than you could have imagined. 

Even so — I’m not saying that going to these classes was easy. It wasn’t.

But at the end of the day, you will be rewarded for your nerve, dare, and courage.

Photo Courtesy of Mickey O’Neil | Crew

Just minutes after I entered the pole studio, one girl, who entered after me, alone, asked, “Do you…all know each other?” (She was referring to three other girls and me, all standing in a row — all East Asian.)

Us, collectively, “Oh, no! We came by ourselves.”

You’re not alone just because you went to a group event by yourself. You’ll never know until you ask, but there can be just as many people there who went by themselves and are worried that they’re the only ones out of place.

At the dance studio, before the bachata class started, the instructor came over to introduce himself and ask me what brought me there. He made me feel incredibly welcome, taught me the basic steps so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed, and after learning I’d just graduated from Berkeley, nudged me over to another girl — who was going to be starting school at Berkeley in 38 days (but who’s counting?).

We struck up a light, small talk-y sort of conversation. I learned that she’d been going to the studio for just over a year (Two weeks ago was her “anniversary.”) and after she’d asked what brought me there, she followed with “Did you come by yourself?”

“Ahh, yeah,” was my awkward reply.

“Wow, good for you.”

I didn’t say “thank you” at the time.

Now, I kind of wish that I had.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s