“Why can’t you just meet with someone later today?”
Because I can’t.
(Painfully rearranging my schedule in my head, coming up with contingency plans–trying to make it work in a palatable way, but failing repeatedly, at lightning speed, which actually feels like grinding gears on a stick-shift…)
Because I would have to change my perfectly-laid plans for the rest of the day. I would have to pull up my info on that person and load all of their details into my head. I would have to switch gears.
(Ugh, do I even hear myself?? This sounds over-the-top-whiny. It’s the truth, but it sounds so thin and petty. God, I’m such a wuss. Why can’t I just do these things anyway? What’s up with me?)
“Well, people expect you to be available.”
Well, sometimes I can’t be.
“But you’re in your office, after all…”
I know. So what? That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m available. I can’t just meet with someone at a moment’s notice.
“So what do you mean you can’t just meet with someone?”
(I’m getting tired of this conversation, so I give in.)
FINE. I’ll think about it.
(Thinking, grumbling inside, resentful of everyone involved.)
(After a few minutes…)
OK, what do they want to see me about?
(I’m really trying to fit them into my brain. Still not working.)
“They need to ask you a question about about [x].”
(I already know that although it seems like a simple question on its face, it actually isn’t; it’s going to require some explanation, which might be met with the Dreaded twins: Resistance and Objection…)
Alright, how soon can they get here?
“In another hour.”
(Shit. That cuts right into the middle of my time designated for a big project. That’s too late in the day; if they can’t get here immediately, then it must not be important enough for them, and they’re the one requesting the meeting! Why should I be the one to have to rearrange my own entire schedule?)
Ugh. Tell them I’m occupied this afternoon; I need time to look over their details and create some talking points.
“So there’s no way you can meet with them today?”
(Putting my foot down, trying not to clench my teeth…)
No. They have a complex situation. There’s no way I’d be able to offer them solid advice. (Why the F am I even explaining myself, anyway? I own the place; I don’t owe anyone an explanation. I’m top-dog; what I say goes, and what is, is.)
“You’ll just have to learn to [do x].”
(And so it goes, around and around, every time. What I really want to say is the following…)
I’m 39. If I say I can’t do something, it’s because I can’t. I don’t give up easily, so if I flat-out admit that I can’t do it, this means I’ve tried multiple ways, multiple times, and failed, probably painfully and/or stressfully. You, judgment King/queen, weren’t there to see that, nor did you have the pleasure of witnessing the meltdown/shutdown that occurred after, or the (sometimes days-long) recovery period that followed that. Lucky you.
So when I risk losing respect and looking ridiculous by declining to do something that seems simple, it’s because the pain, stress, and frustration of making yet one more attempt to do it outweighs the helplessness, ridiculousness, shame, weakness, and guilt that I experience when disclosing to you that I can’t.
So just accept it. Sometimes I can’t do something, and sometimes I can’t even explain why.
Get over it; you’ll get over it sooner/faster than I will anyway.
(Image Credit: Marie-Esther)