Let’s have a little talk about naysayers, shall we? Naysayers may seem like the bunion on the toe of life, but they are very much the opposite. At least for me anyway.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not surround myself with naysayers, because constant naysaying or negativity would surely bring a gal down. No, no. But a well-placed naysayer is motivational gold.
I just had one the other day while I was waitressing. My last day of waitressing in fact, so the timing was impeccable.
It was a couple that I liked as I had them many times before. They weren’t awful tippers, they were kind and jovial, and they were always very understanding if I got swamped and couldn’t tend to them in a timely manner. Overall, I had no beef with these people—still don’t in fact. Toward the end of their meal, however, we got to talking and I told them I was leaving Wyoming, but that I would be back one day to get me some land.
I thought it was a nice thing to say, complimenting their state and all, but this is where things veered into the naysayery.
The woman of the pair, squinted at me, and said, “Land here is very expensive,” like she was imparting some great wisdom on me, because clearly I didn’t know land in the jutting mountains of the West would cost a pretty penny.
She also looked entirely certain that my coming back to buy land was preposterous as she carried on with her wisdom-giving.
“Maybe if you go to school one day…” she said looking hopeful that I could make something of myself other than glorified food-schlepper.
“I’ve been to school,” I said matter-of-factly. “I have my Bachelors.”
“Oh?!” she beamed brightly, “what in? Nursing? Because we are always looking for nurses and that pays well enough.”
Side note: Why does everyone and their cocker spaniel think being a nurse—I commend you nurses, love what ya do, but I could never, ever be you—is a viable solution to my wayward artistic dreams? I cannot tell you how many people have suggested I become a nurse. My parents even did at one point, encouraging me to do it for the job security, probably fearing a likelihood of my living in a cardboard box near Union Station. That hasn’t happened yet, though I was vaguely homeless for a spell in NYC, but that’s a story for another day.
It doesn’t matter that the sight of blood makes me queasy and the only math I like to do is computing tips when I go out to eat (for the record folks, 20% should be your baseline and I encourage you to go up from there). I actually have no idea how much math is actually involved in nursing, but I will tell you I considered being an interior designer once and when the woman I job-shadowed told me there was math involved, I promptly closed the file on that career choice. That is how much I despise math. Math in my opinion is like dating a redhead. It should be avoided at all costs. Unless he’s Scottish. Then all bets are off.
I informed the woman that I did not go to school for nursing, but that I was a writer. Her brow furrowed once more, clearly determining that I was a hopeless case.
“Well,” she floundered, clearly out of ideas on directing me to make enough money to afford land.
I smiled and firmly told her I wasn’t worried.
She decided to worry for me anyway, the dear. I said my goodbyes and she wished me well on getting back to Wyoming one day.
I was ecstatic. I hadn’t had a good naysayer in so long. One who really lit a fire in my insides. While this woman was in no way mean-spirited and in all respects just seemed a practical sort, I loved that she seemed none too confident that I could ever A. Purchase my own land or B. Make enough money as a writer to purchase aforementioned expensive mountain land.
I felt like the Grinch when the lightbulb goes off to steal Christmas and his smile goes up to his hairline in unadulterated glee. The last person who told me I couldn’t do something was an elderly chauvinist who spewed what a waste of money horses were on top of the fact that poor hapless husbands were the ones getting saddled with the bill for the whole lot.
“Why does my husband need to buy me a horse?” I asked him curiously.
He also looked as taken aback as the woman who thought a waitress could ever buy her own damn land.
“Who else would buy it?” he nearly spat.
“I would,” I looked him in the eye.
“You?! How?” he asked, like I’d just told him I was in fact running for president while working at a mountaintop lodge.
“With my own money…” I said, trying not to insinuate he was dense.
He harrumphed and shook his head, like it was impossible.
“How?” he insisted.
“I make my own money now,” I said patiently, though I wanted to scream, what do you mean how!? “And I will make my own money later too, when I decide to buy a horse.”
He still didn’t believe me and muttered declarations under his breath about a woman buying her own horse, now he’d heard everything.
This guy honestly annoyed me a great deal, but I of course channeled that annoyance. Filed it away for a rainy day. Now that was stacked upon this woman not believing I was capable of purchasing anything other than a candy bar.
Now I had some serious ammunition. A man telling me I could never afford a horse. Check. A woman telling me I could never afford land. Check. Now all I needed was someone insinuating I couldn’t make it as a writer and I will be fully locked and loaded. That’s gun terminology right? I don’t really know. But I do know I also want a pistol when I go back West.
My favorite naysayer example was this “friend” I had from high school who told me she’d always prayed I would never lose the weight because I had such a pretty face and she didn’t want the competition in the man department. She said this to me after I had grown progressively chubbier in college and we were on a walk where I was bemoaning said weight. Her response was to happily confess her feelings on my weight loss. She said it with a giggle too, like it was all so amusing, but wasn’t it nice that I was pretty? I had that at least and shouldn’t fret over being fat, especially when it would coincide with her dating life.
I used that wonderful naysayer to help me land a pretty sweet gig on The Biggest Loser. And while I am currently no Kate Moss, I have never loved myself more, cellulite or otherwise. So thanks, girl. I appreciate your hideous confession, without you I fear I may not have gotten all the gumption for the life change I needed.
My point with all this is that having good friends and family be your cheerleaders and have your back is vital. I couldn’t accomplish any of the things I have accomplished without all of their well-wishes, pick-me-ups and unwavering support. But I tell ya what, just a couple solid naysayers sprinkled in the mix with their doubt and snark are just as vital to my making it. Because you know what’s happening here? I am charging forth on a path with fiery determination to prove myself right—I can afford a freaking horse and land! Okay not in this exact moment per se, but mark my words, I can and I will. Also should I procure a husband before I have purchased land, or a horse, I will firmly insist on buying them myself anyway. On principle.
So. Here’s to you, naysayers. I raise my mug—of hazelnut coffee—to you and your doubts and criticisms and sexist assumptions. Thank you kindly for believing a woman to be incapable, or helpless without a man, or feeble or a downright idiot. I look forward to the road ahead. And I especially look forward to proving you wrong. Cheers, mates.