Several years ago, Jim Carrey starred in a movie called Yes Man! in which he plays a middle-aged man living a passionless, routine life, until he’s convinced to start saying “yes” to all of the opportunities that are presented to him. It leads to an exciting new relationship, a promotion at work, a variety of new friends, and generally a much more fulfilling life.
A couple of weeks ago, I embarked on a similar experience. After four months, the newness of everything is still so apparent. I’m the one that has to nose my way into social circles, to take the initiative to build relationships, to look up for the millionth time where to find Bed, Bath, and Beyond in town… Everything about me is green. Every situation is a new one. And I find myself surrounded by the unfamiliar constantly.
It’s daunting and exhausting and the easiest thing to do is to hide in my apartment until things feel less alien. Like somehow, given enough time, I will simply just start feeling comfortable without making much of an effort to do so. But maybe making and finding excuses to not do things or be with people is inhibiting that process, I thought. Maybe I just have to jump in.
So I started saying yes.
Yes, I will join the UNL faculty/staff bowling league; yes, I will sign up for the advising mentoring program; yes, I will chair the Professional Development Committee for the Academic Advising Association; yes, I will go support after-hours events put on by the departments I work with; yes, I will attend lunchtime workshops…
Admittedly, I don’t say yes to everything, but I do say yes to things that are going to put me in a position to learn something new about someone new. So that means I say yes to a lot of things. And as a result, I’m feeling more connected. Imagine that. Like I’ve said before, getting connected takes time, and I’m trying to be patient with myself, but it’s going a lot faster now that I’m actually making an effort, I’ll tell you that.
For a long time I was afraid of being connected. I’ve been a lot of places and though that’s taxing in a way, I proudly claim my tumbleweed lifestyle of the last 25 years and wear it as a badge of honor. I think I had to wait until I time where I felt ready to be connected, to be rooted, somewhere. It makes it harder to tumbleweed-roll somewhere new, certainly. But if I think about it, when has it ever actually been easy to tumbleweed-roll somewhere new? It wasn’t easy to roll to Iowa for college or roll to Illinois for grad school or roll to Nebraska for work.
So if connections are happening anyway and rolling away is always going to be hard no matter when or under what circumstances it happens, shouldn’t I stop resisting? Shouldn’t I just say yes? Yes.
Yes to yes.