Friday Frustrations: The Difficulty of Saying 'No'
It's been a long time since I did a Friday Frustration. Today's #FF isn't about saying no to editors, but to family and friends.
Since I am the writer in the family (or in particular friend groups), people often ask me to look over their papers or their stories or the copy for their website. And while I like helping people in a general sense, I feel so much pressure when I am asked to help with writing.
I volunteered to help a friend move into her new apartment this weekend. Yeah moving sucks, but I'd rather do that five times over than help one person with their essay. And these are not usually low-stakes papers either. They're often for admissions—into law school, into medical school, into business school, into this or that program or position. I have a good track record with editing other people's work (not really with my own work, but I'll save that topic for another post), but their success stories don't seem to help with lessening my anxiety. There is so much riding on the papers that are sent to me. And even when the stakes are not high, I don't always know what to say or how to fix certain things. Sometimes a section just feels off when I read it, and I don't know how to explain why or how to fix it. And when you add that these are people I know and care about, then you may understand why such a task fills me with angst.
I am often busy, but I feel that I can't use that as a reason, true and valid though it may be. I don't want people to feel like I don't care about them or can't put something else aside to assist. Even last minute requests, which I've gotten before, I will fulfill to the best of my ability. And I don't care that they don't pay me; money wouldn't be my reason to decline either. But this year and beyond I want to do less of this family/friend paper editing and I think the reason I will offer as an explanation is the truest one: it's just way too stressful. I hope that they will understand. I will also convey how honored I am though that they trust me enough to even ask.