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Here’s to saying “NO” : Alex Saba

Samantha Wills

Contributing writer (and amazing illustrator), Alex Saba

Contributing writer (and amazing illustrator), Alex Saba

There’s no doubt in my mind that each and every one of us has said “Yes” to something, that we REALLY meant (and wanted) to say “No” to - whether in our personal or professional lives. The choice of those two words can take our lives on complete detours for any amount of time.

As an illustrator pursuing a creative career, I’ve said “Yes”, when I wanted to say “No” many more times than I would’ve liked, most of the time out of people pleasing and financial decisions. Taking on jobs that instead of making my heart sing and that challenged me, made my stomach tense and have me complain and whinge to my support network. After time, that tense stomach took its toll and became less welcome and I started asking myself - “Do I ACTUALLY need to take on this job?”. In most cases I didn’t - but in the end, I did.

At the end of last year, I made the choice to relaunch my business. I found value in myself, in my story and really cemented my WHY - the quest so many of us creatives are on, and at that moment I finally had it. During the relaunch process, I started having more conversations with the Universe. The more confident I started to feel in my new purpose, I knew it was only a matter of time until I was tested by my friend, Universe. Next minute, a job came along from a friend, a very BIG job in terms of time and effort primarily… 

I’m sure most of us creatives or business owners have had our friends and family recognise our special skills and with the best intentions in mind (I’m sure) want to spread the word by hiring us, in some way… Now before I go any further I believe it’s very important to highlight that none of this story ends in tension or broken relationships. Here I was, hearing familiar phrases relating to exposure, short timelines and tight budgets and there I was, taking on the requests and considering it. But this time was different - I could finally see with clarity that I needed to put myself first. Here was a job that I had no idea how much I would get paid for, but I knew in my entire being would take months of creating, communication and balance of control. I was planning on supporting someone else’s business when I was relaunching my own business!? Which ball was I going to drop? It was game time - challenge accepted, Universe. 

Knowing this time was different - I took the opportunity to look deeper. I spoke with a friend who had a lot of value in business and I listened, with intent. My mind was inching towards, I guess I can do it - but my whole damn body was screaming “Girl?! NO!” Voicing my concerns, I started realising that this was such a big job that I would be sacrificing the success of my own project - relaunching my business, such a huge milestone for anyone in business. This conversation with my friend was very helpful and although I already knew what was right for me, it didn’t make it any easier until my friend said these words, “Alex, many times I have seen the universe is testing me to see if I am listening. I’m not going to tell you what to do, but, I think the universe is testing you.” These words changed everything - this was my message, my sign - anything I was looking for was in that sentence. So I listened, accepted my value and took action.

I said “No”, with respect and care - made the decision to honour myself and my business, rather than take care of another and sacrifice my own. I think we all know now when we work with the universe we are rewarded, and no word of a lie within a matter of hours I was driving home and one of my biggest idols and supporters of my work spoke about her new album and a new message came through - just for me. “So if you have that gut feeling, listen to it”. 

So that’s it, challenge accepted and I won! I listened and I chose ME! A turning point in my career as now I know that I can happily say NO to random portraits and logos that fill me with frustration and regret. I’ve reached my quota of “No” filled “Yesses’” and I am now taking ALL of that time and putting it into my own business. That night I shared my story I had other friends reach out that it resonated with, so I know I am not alone, in saying that. I hope this resonates so deeply with you, enough that you’ve read to the end of my story and it inspires you to start saying “No” more.

Respectfully, and filled with love - Here’s to saying “NO”

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