Sunday, March 9, 2014

In Defense of "No"


There is a reason why all toddlers go through a period when “no” is their favorite word. It is a simple, yet powerful, word that allows us to exercise control over our own experiences for the first time. “No, I don’t want to go to bed.” “No, I don’t want to eat my vegetables.” “No, I will not share my toy.” Ironically, as we get older, and arguably have more sense as to what experiences are in our best interest, we forget the affection we once felt for “no.” We become afraid of the word. We feel guilty for using it. We agree to dates we don’t want to go on. We accept responsibilities we aren't interested in having.

As an actor, I think it is especially easy to forget the joy of “no." We face so much rejection on a day-to-day basis that we become desperate for an opportunity to hear and say, “Yes!” This can result in us saying yes to projects that we are not really interested in, or worse, to “opportunities” that take us further away from our goal of being an actor.

Yes, sometimes it is necessary to accept an offer for a non-acting related day -job because you need to pay your rent. And yes, sometimes there is value in accepting a role you are less than thrilled about in order to work with a director or company you admire. Life is full of complicated, hard decisions. But we should never forget that saying no can be just as exciting as saying yes.

“No” is not a negative word. It is a positive word that indicates that we know what we want, and that we have the confidence and dedication to accept nothing less. Every time you say no, you are giving the universe a signal that you want something other than what you have been given. Saying no, is a way of asking for what you really want. So forget the fear and the guilt, embrace your inner toddler, and remember the affection you once felt for “no.”