Learning When to Say Yes and When to Say No

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by Hawken Miller |

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Learning when to say yes and when to say no has been especially important for me as I live with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

It’s a balance between trying to rise up in my career by accepting story assignments, and saying no to events, friends, and more assignments so that I have time to rest and recover every day.

Saying yes or no goes deeper than a simple two- or three-word response. I face a difficult internal battle between wanting to be a good friend or productive employee, and getting the ample rest that I need to function.

With DMD, fatigue has been a real challenge, because my muscles aren’t as strong as others. I find myself quickly losing energy by the end of the day and feel like I’m unable to get anything productive done past 3 p.m.

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I try to say no as often as I say yes so I can conserve my energy for when I really need it. That way, I can deliver if an unexpected yet profitable opportunity comes my way.

Last week, a chance came up for me to help report for The Washington Post on the latest Activision Blizzard walkout at the company headquarters in Irvine, California, a short 15-minute drive from me. I did bring up the idea to drive over there. However, at any point I could have said no because I was still facing a long to-do list.

In my head, I quickly had to create a pros and cons list. If I did go, I’d be creating more work for myself that week. But if I didn’t, I could miss out on a chance to report on something near and dear to my heart — video games.

I decided to go, and everything seemed to work out. I was able to quickly get the information and photos The Washington Post needed on the ground while balancing my commitments writing for BioNews, the publisher of Muscular Dystrophy News Today. Plus, my work got a lot of traction on social media and helped further legitimize my reporting on this topic.

In other cases, I say no to social events, sports games, and hanging out with friends in favor of taking a nap or just resting while reading a book.

When making important decisions in life, we must often sacrifice one thing for another. With DMD, I may have to sacrifice health and recovery for play or work. Facing this reality is frustrating, yet important. The healthier I am, the better I feel, and am thus better equipped to get the most out of the articles I say yes to and the social events I commit to.

Sometimes I have to say no to things I enjoy, too, not just people and work-related assignments. That may mean limiting the time I spend playing video games so I can be a responsible adult and attain a healthy work-life balance.

Similar to making the right decisions, which I wrote about in a recent column, responding yes or no is part of life. As I cope with DMD, I need to remind myself it’s all right to say no to people. It’s nothing personal. I have a challenge that most do not.

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Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.

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