We women often take on way more than we have time for, running from one commitment to the next, barely leaving time to draw breath. Whether it’s extra responsibilities or shifts at work, community engagement, sports or other hobbies, volunteering, study, or friend and family commitments, we’re doing it all, and quite often we’re doing it to the point of exhaustion. (This is not to mention that women are still typically taking on the majority of household chores, but that’s a story for another time).
Yes, men overcommit themselves too, but it’s far more common among women. I, for one, am guilty of signing myself up to do too much on a regular basis. For example, I’m currently writing this during my lunch break more than a day past deadline (sorry Lizzie). I work a full-time job Monday to Friday, write on a freelance basis for three publications (all in different time zones), edit a magazine, volunteer at a local nonprofit for six hours a week, and occasionally try to squeeze in some form of exercise. I had intended to write this piece over the weekend, but forgot I had a put my hand up for a work function on Saturday, followed by a class, followed by a birthday party, and more work stuff on Sunday. You get the picture.
But I’m not here to complain about how busy I am. I’m here to try and make sense of why I, and many other women in my life, routinely take on more than we have time for. Behold my very non-scientific list of possible reasons why us do-it-all ladies struggle to say “no.”
The gender gap
As women fight for more equality, we want to prove we can do it all. And we can, but we don’t have to. Men certainly don’t do it all. But personally, I think a lot of my inability to say no comes from a semiconscious fear of appearing weak or incapable.
A fear of missing out
Speaking of fears, fomo is a big one. Responsible for me agreeing to everything from underpaid freelance jobs to attending three events in one night. Especially when it comes to work, I’m worried about turning down an opportunity that might end up being my big break.
The desire to be an “all-rounder”
We live in an age where nearly everyone we know, or follow, has a side hustle, a daily workout routine, a slew of cool and interesting hobbies. They have it, so we need to have it too.
If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll know. Turning something down often feels like failing. It’s not, of course. In fact, quite the opposite. But, as above, we live in a society that tells us we have to do it all and do it now.
We love what we do
This is a big one for me. I find it hard to say no to taking on extra work because I love what I do. I find it hard to say no to social commitments because I love my friends. But we don’t have to do it all to be enough. We want to be interesting and multifaceted, but a lot of the time we don’t realise how interesting and multifaceted we already are, without even trying.