On the Sunday before labor day, I went out on a boat with a group of 8 people who I love or at least like. The boat ride was great with clear skies, perfect weather, and an almost full moon coming up soon. For dinner, we docked at a very busy restaurant where lots of other people had the same idea. The food was average at best, but that I can deal with. The noise level was another thing. I find it hard to concentrate on conversations when there are so many other conversations going on, and eating under these tense conditions often gives me indigestion. So after I’d finished eating, and I’d had enough of straining to hear the person next to me, I said, “I need to go outside and look at the moon.”
Three other people immediately followed me out to the dock.
The four of us stood there enjoying the relief of relative quiet. Then, my dear friend commented:
“The introverts got out first.”
“Yes!” I responded raising my fist in the air.
I was the leader of the introverts that night.
I said, no, to three requests last week!
Two were related to things I’d already been working on or had agree to, and more was asked of me. The more that was asked felt uncomfortable. One project was starting to eat up too much of my time, and the other request would have made an already emotionally draining task way more difficult. So, I said no. I briefly explained my reasons and respectfully said, no.
The third request no was to a chain message on Facebook. It said I “had to” forward the message to 15 people and that I was “on the clock.” It contained language aimed at producing guilt if I did not comply. With as much love as I could muster, I responded that I felt uncomfortable and pressured by the language. When someone starts to pressure me, it’s time to back off. I could have just ignored it, but it was the second chain message I’d gotten that week.
This boundary setting was not comfortable, but I didn’t agonize like I would have in the past. My decisions came naturally. Maybe, at the age of 61, I’m finally starting to get this boundary thing down.