About Saying No

No is such a simple word. You learn it in preschool.

I have been thinking about proofreading lately.  About correcting friends’ and relatives’ final theses: bachelor’s and master’s theses, doctoral dissertations, which I have always said Yes to in the past, when asked. I am talking about proofreading in my mother tongue – Slovenian. I knew my friend was working on her master’s thesis. I was leaning towards saying No. Proofreading has been getting too difficult with time, since I started to forget the grammar and style rules. I learned the rules in college over 20 years ago and was only using them once every five or so years in the last decade and a half. In addition to that, there is a new leading grammar now, which I should study, were I a professional proofreader.

Despite all these objections or in other words reasons to say No, when the friend called and asked: “Are you still doing proofreading?”, I automatically said Yes. I was afraid of making a failure out of it, but there would have been also the sense of guilt, had I said No. During these mixed feelings the friend sent me a late but not last version of her theses to have a peep. I panicked, when I saw that she wrote about depression and suicide. I read the summary and discovered that some parts of the text might be triggering an episode of mental illness in me. I could not know for sure, but there were stories inside, I saw that.

After a long rumination, which lasted one day, I decided to do it anyway. I figured I could always say No in the middle of proofreading, if I got mental health problems. I somehow managed to fall asleep in the evening despite the anxiety. But I woke up at 5 a.m. in horror and could not fall back asleep. At 6:30 a.m. I decided to decline the proofreading in an e-mail. After having done that I went back to sleep.

Now I know I am not going to do it anymore. Well, at least I hope not. I still have mixed feelings. No is such a simple word. You learn it in preschool. Why is it so difficult for me to say No at the age of almost 50?

Take care,

Helena Smole, author of:

– a fantasy novel with romance Vivvy and Izzy the Dwarf: A series about relationships

Balancing the Beast, a book offering a bright view of schizoaffective disorder ˗ bipolar or manic-depressive type

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