I was sick of being a “yes woman” 23



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Years ago, I watched a film called Yes Man, starring Jim Carrey. The message of the film was to open yourself up to more opportunities in life by saying yes more – bollocks!

I was inspired to write this piece when the movie came on TV the other day and it made me think about my own experience of being a “Yes (wo)man”. Allow me to digress.

I grew up in a very normal Catholic household in Adelaide and had a regular childhood. When I was a teenager, I grew boobs and had a pretty face, so I started to be followed. One of my “crushes” was a boy named Jonathan Fitzgerald and he was one of the only boys who didn’t chase after me. It was the case of them staring at me while I stared at him. Eventually, he cornered me at a school dance and he asked if I wanted to have sex. No pleasantries, no nothing. You have to admire his gall! I was 16 and didn’t want to pass up the only opportunity I would probably have to be with him. So I said yes. And so I started to become the “yes girl”. I’d say yes to just about anything so I could be included. I ended up dating Jonathan and when he asked if I would let him kiss another girl, I said yes. I said yes to my own first heartbreak. I still didn’t realise I was being too much of a pushover and saying yes to things I didn’t want to say yes to. I should note that 10 years ago I did not try to sue Danny Wallace for plagiarism of my life story – I wasn’t really know as the “yes girl”, I wasn’t known at all for my ability to specifically say “yes’, but more so for being up for anything, and being easy to walk all over.

I’d say yes to giving lifts to far too many teenagers at once. I’d say yes to going to the creek at midnight to smoke stolen cigarettes. I’d continue to do this until I said yes to a man who asked me to marry him (note: not Jonathan Fitzgerald). I guess I was scared if I said no to someone or somebody that I was disappointing them. I felt the pressure to be at every event just so I didn’t let anyone down. I looked at the diamond ring Warren Kerry passed across the table to me and I just stared, wide-eyed. He said, “Well? What do you say?”….”Yes”. We were married in 1971 when I was 19 and I’ve never been more glum in my life. I was on the brink of tears all day. But my mother look at me and said, “Nancy, are you okay?”….what do you think my response was?

We were married for 7 years before I walked out the door. “Are you leaving me?” “Yes”, I said, and drove off. It was the first time I’d done something I actually wanted to do and I was able to step outside that fear that I felt. I realised that fear was not real and I never had anything to worry about – I just thought I did. I was trapped in my own prison. I went on to be remarried and have 2 children, whom I love and adore. And parents out there will know just how hard it is to say yes to a naughty child, so I got out of my habit pretty darn quickly.

A friend of mine recently had her youngest fly the coop and she was worried that she was going to have to be selfish. She is a retired customer service officer at a shopping centre and has been doing so much for so long for so many people. And as we sat down with the telly on, Yes Man came on the set and I turned to her and grabbed the remote, then turned it off. I pointed at the TV and told her to learn to say no. I think we forget to be selfish sometimes, especially our generation. We’re more generous and more homely than our children and grandchildren are or will be. We thrived off family and providing for people, and often forget that we need to look out for number one.


When was the last time you did something selfish? Are you more of a yes or a no person? Tell us below.

Guest Contributor

  1. I am soft hearted but not soft hearted enough to marry someone I don’t love, it only ends in disaster

  2. I said ‘no’ to a request a couple of months ago and now they are not talking to me. Once this would have bothered me. Now it is their problem, not mine 🙂

    4 REPLY
    • It has taken me 61 years, Dianne. But have finally learnt not to be used. And that I am not responsible for other people’s thoughts. I ready some books – Women Who Do Too Much and The Best Yes – both are Christian books so I don’t know if you are into that but I found the REALLY helpful 🙂

    • When people ask you to do something just say ‘I’ll get back to you about that’ or ‘I’ll need to check the diary’ – this gives you time to think about what to say if you don’t want to do it. Then say ‘sorry I can’t’, you don’t have to give an excuse but have something else ready to talk about. You’ll feel empowered and not used. You won’t be cursing about having to force yourself into doing something you don’t want to do. If they stop talking to you or don’t make contact they are not worth having as friends and it shows their immaturity. All the best.

  3. I have a soft heart. But my parents made sure my head was “screwed on right” have been fairly independent but married the man I loved & still together 43 years. I guess my kids are my soft spot

    1 REPLY
    • Mine too and my grand children more so… But we get taken advantage of and they don’t learn sacrifice or what we sacrifice so we can give to them .

  4. I don’t call it selfish saying ‘no’ – just self preservation!!

  5. Never been a yes women & at 75 never intend to be…being kind doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover…

  6. I used to. Within reason. Then realised I wasn’t getting my stuff finished. So hardly ever now

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