I feel like nobody listens to me.

Guys. I TOLD YOU that my Miss America predictions were completely based on pictures and nothing else. I specifically said not to trust them. Why did almost 20,000 of you crazy people read them??? Don’t get me wrong– I love each and every one of you, but calm down. Or keep it up. That’s why I love you pageant freaks.

I will point out that 5 out of my 10 were in the Top 10, so I think it’s safe to say that Miss America is still 50% beauty pageant/50% everything else (split between the following: scholarship program, talent show, Donald Trump attack ad). I’ve never laughed so hard during onstage questions—not at the women, but at the honesty. There were only one or two politically correct answers. All of the other girls threw caution to the wind and said, “Let me tell you how I really feel.” Republicans should be terrified of Donald Trump. Guns shouldn’t be taken away. Planned Parenthood should be funded. Ellen DeGeneres should be on the $10 bill. And most importantly, I need to feel Tom Brady’s balls. It was glorious. Whether or not you agreed with the answers doesn’t matter. What matters is that these girls said exactly what they actually think. So long, Robot Pageant Patty! Hello, real girls who happen to look hot in a bikini! And lesbihonest…we’d all ask for change in $10s if Ellen DeGeneres’ face were on the bill, so thank you Miss Colorado for that brilliant idea.

Okay, I’m done with my Miss America recap. There’s so much more I want to say (re: Vanessa Williams, the very real consequences of foregoing butt glue, and the reemergence of satin), but it’s time to move on to the real subject of this blog post: Saying “yes.”

Most people have trouble saying “no,” but not I. FOMO is not a thing in my life. I’ve never had a problem telling someone that I just don’t feel like hanging out, that cooking a dish for a potluck is simply not going to happen, or that I have no interest in joining a running club. I don’t really get the concept of being scared to say “no.” This could be a huge sign that I’m selfish, but I also think that when you only do things you want to do, you’re much better company and more dependable in the grand scheme of things. And less poor. Don’t get me wrong, I am a very involved person, but I hit walls fairly often and have no problem conserving my energy for only the activities in which I feel naturally inclined to participate.

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Despite my reasoning for saying “no,” however, I’ve recently challenged myself to be more of a “yes” girl. Though don’t get too excited—I’m not taking it to the extreme. If you invite me to a Steve Aoki concert with all of the young kids these days swallowing who knows what kind of candy, I’m not going to go. I will wait for you by the gate to offer you a safe ride home and won’t tell your mom, but I’m not going to wear tattoo jewelry and have cake thrown at my face by Mr. Miyagi’s aggressive grandson. However, if I’m tired and want to eat a Lean Cuisine while watching Dancing with the Stars, but someone invites me to try a cool new Puerto Rican restaurant on the other side of town, I will challenge myself to say “yes.” Usually food is a good way to convince me to do something I don’t feel like doing, but my “yes”s are starting to expand beyond that sure-win category. For example, I let my fiancé sign me up for a pick ‘em football league (go…Bills?) and stopped to buy raffle tickets from two little girls at my brother’s little league game. I joined a kickball league (though I’ll admit that’s something I’ve wanted to do anyway), put down a deposit for a trip to Ireland next Spring, and have started agreeing to go to Taco Bell (this does not count as real food).

Saying “yes” a lot has made me fat and poor and tired, but it has also exposed me to really incredible experiences. These really incredible experiences are more than the surface level, expected results of saying “yes” to something. They’re more profound than the insane pork shoulder biscuit I tried from a tiny shack in the sketchy part of Norfolk last Saturday, than the epic flip cup game after kickball last week, and than staying up too late with an old friend, leading to the news that she dated Sam Hunt earlier this year (I’m sorry WHAT). Instead, the most incredible experiences born from saying “yes” have come from unanticipated connections with other people.

If Aaron hadn’t helped me say “yes” to the little girls selling raffle tickets on our way out of my brother’s little league game, I wouldn’t have seen the excitement in their eyes or the way their mom looked at us in thanks. If I hadn’t said “yes” to the pick ‘em football league, I wouldn’t have sat with my grandfather for 20 minutes as he helped me decide which teams to choose. If I hadn’t agreed to go through the drive through at a fast food chain (not a fast food girl here), Aaron and I wouldn’t have laughed until we cried when the woman taking our order simply could not understand what we were saying. With each “yes” comes contact with people you would not have seen or spoken to had you shut down the possibility of interaction, as well as plenty of laughs, fuzzy feelings, and/or ways to grow.

Saying “yes” can be a slippery slope (as seen by the fit of my jeans), but for people like me who love routine and alone time, it’s important to push past what we feel like doing and open the door to new experiences and unexpected camaraderie. We all know the importance of soaking in the little moments around us to appreciate life’s beauty, so why not create more opportunities for those poignant and joyful moments to take place? It may seem overwhelming, but trust me, the memories and interactions are worth every ounce of energy. Life is about living, after all! So get out there and YOLO.

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P.S.—Thanks to my wonderful fiancé, Aaron, for never saying the word “no” in his life…it may drive me crazy at times, but has certainly challenged me to be even more enthusiastic about this one life we get to live. 🙂 I love you.