Simone Biles’ decision to step away from competing in the Summer 2020 Olympics in Tokyo has caused more of a stir than I expected. While I naturally felt the same shock that came with the news, what I didn’t anticipate was the larger conversation on the topic of “powering through vs. pulling away” that sprang up. That being said, it’s an important conversation to have and poses a question we must all ask ourselves: at what point to we decide that saying “no” is better than saying “yes”?
While I cannot speak for Ms. Biles, I can think of a time recently where I had to say “no” to something that could have indeed changed my life. I had been planning to attend this big networking event for over a month. I had my business cards printed and knock-em-dead dress ready. I just *knew* that being in a room full of fellow successful people would have boosted my business…
Then the day arrived right along with Day Two of my cycle.
Pardon the oversharing, but let’s just say that I was a wreck. Light was my worst enemy, I was nauseous, it hurt to breathe, and no amount of mint tea, heating pads, or Pamprin was helping. As I stayed curled up on the couch in my PJs, I knew that soon I would have to suck it up and go to this event, ready to work the room… or did I?
Did I actually have to go? In fact, would it be worth it to attend this event showing up as a miserable shadow of myself? Why was I so compelled to follow through when my entire body was actively in full distress mode?
So, I chose to stay home. I took a warm shower, changed into even softer PJs, twisted down my hair, and rested. My body was grateful, as I woke the next morning feeling infinitely better.
Of course, part of me was upset that I missed an event that I had wanted to attend so badly, and I lamented the connections that I had missed. However, I knew that there will be more chances to meet new people and build my network, and when those chances come I will be well enough to be fully present, vibrant, and genuinely happy to be there.
The same goes for you! It’s okay to tap out when you recognize that some arbitrary achievement will come at the price of your peace. It’s okay to step away when you feel like a step forward will take you over the edge. In a culture of “quitters never win,” dare to save victory for a time where it can be fully enjoyed and appreciated without an undercurrent of dread.
Yes, there will be times where it will be worth it to power through. But there will be other times where you must choose rest over reward. My hope is that when those days come, you’ll be wise enough to make the right choice.