In the majority of cases challenging ourselves is a commendable pursuit. I mean, who can argue with a little bit of self-improvement, eh? But pushing boundaries is all well and good when you can ensure that yourself and others aren't harmed in the crossfire. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case when I decided to challenge myself to saying "yes" to absolutely everything asked of me for a week.
As you can probably guess, shenanigans quickly ensued. Whilst I wasn't shocked that my courageous feat landed me in trouble, I was surprised at how easy it was to upset people when you couldn't turn them, and everyone else down. You would think that saying "no" to everyone would have a higher chance of landing you in hot water, right?
I guess you could say that I was asking for it when I aired word of what I was undertaking to my colleagues. To this end, the first thing I learnt from the feat was to never tell anyone when I was doing something that could be exploited for entertainment value, ever again.
In fact, the challenge made me really emphasise with Jim Carrey's character in the popular Noughties film, Yes Man, for I was agreeing to too many things that I definitely did not want to commit to. However, I was rather lucky in the end, I didn't (completely) lose friends and my significant other but who can say what would have happened if I had kept up the dangerous charade...
It all started off innocently enough.
I returned every call my parents made, agreed to attend several family get-togethers and accepted all offers of tea and water made at work. I was well on my way to becoming one very hydrated, family girl.
But things soon caught up with me when I found myself double booking myself in a series of different social obligations. I was asked to go to celebratory drinks with a friend and, at the same time, I was also supposed to be having a cleaning "date" with my rather obsessive flatmate. Alas, I could not say no to any of the offers thrown my way.
When my friends asked if I wanted another drink, I had to say yes, when the bartender asked if I wanted anything else, I had to buy something else and, as a result, I found myself rather tipsily dodging calls from my flatmate. That is until I remembered that I had to say "yes" to everything. So I responded to the series of increasingly angry texts by saying that I was on my way. And I was, until I got offered another pint that I couldn't refuse.
I finally returned home to a sparkling flat and was forced to drunkenly hoover the living room. In the process, I knocked over and broke my flatmate's prized Shakespeare mug. She didn't talk to me for the rest of the evening.
By day two of my task, I had succeeded only in emptying my bank account and corroding my liver. As you could imagine, I was feeling rather fragile come Tuesday so I skulked into work with the mindset of laying as low as possible... but unfortunately, that was not a possibility.
I had, wittingly, put myself in the excruciating position where I had to say yes to every bit of work thrown my team's way and no amount of coffee helped.
Said angry flatmate then asked if I wanted to attend a yoga class with her in the afternoon. Obviously, I was anxious to make up and yes. I couldn't say no. Now, I will say that bending your body into gravity-defying positions is not the most desirable thing when you feel like your stomach lining is eating itself. But I couldn't back down when the yoga instructor commanded me to sink deeper into downwards facing dog.
Twenty minutes into the yoga class and I had to flee the room, retiring to the restroom where I dry-heaved into a toilet bowl. Delightful.
At a colleague's suggestion, I took a gander at the dating app, Tinder, on the third day. Said app had been gathering dust on my iCloud for years as I am in a happy, long-term relationship.
I logged on and started to browse, swiping right to everyone who appeared. Thankfully, ex-boyfriends of worlds past didn't turn up but I was forced to say "yes" to everyone I encountered, regardless of how weird or attractive they looked.
Now, statistically speaking, if you swipe right on over 100 people in the space of ten minutes, chances are you will get a fair few matches. Soon my phone was buzzing at regular 10-second intervals, informing me of matches and potential suitors. Men came flooding in, using all the cheesy chat-up lines and crude one-liners I remembered from my days as a singleton. I replied to as many as I could and progressively got more and more creeped out.
It all came to a head when an overly keen chartered accountant named Mark asked if we could go on a date. Mark seemed like a decent individual but I can't say that we were really a match in the traditional sense; you see Mark was very interested in cycling and told one too many knock knock jokes that I suspect only he found amusing.
Now, of course, I couldn't say yes, what would my poor boyfriend say? So I quickly deleted Tinder but had to come clean when he asked what I had been up to. When I replied simply with "Tinder" he naturally panicked, assuming that I was looking for greener pastures. I explained that it was for work and so on, but he did seem rather off with me for the rest of the week...
On Thursday I found myself agreeing to go on a trip to amusement park, Thorpe Park the following week. I was actually pretty psyched about this "yes" as I would have agreed to it anyway.
Otherwise, I avoided any situation where I had to say "yes" to anything mildly painful. And no, avoidance cannot be classed as cheating.
Earlier in the week I agreed to go have a curry with my colleagues. My colleagues, gaining wind of the terrible task that I had agreed to partake in, cruelly asked if I wanted a Vindaloo. Dear reader, I had no choice but to agree.
I must mention that I am not bad with spice, I don't mind ordering the hot salsa at Chipotle but I'm not exactly going to put myself in front of a ghost chilli anytime soon. As a result, I was very worried about what I had said "yes" to, especially as I had never had the delight of experiencing a vindaloo before. The only thing I knew about the popular Indian dish was that it wasn't something that could be considered a treat to the tastebuds.
"How bad can this be", I mused as I saw the waiter approach with what could only be considered an evil glint in his eye.
I hesitated when it came to my turn to order...
Now, I promise that I did not plan what happened next as I found my mouth somehow saying the words "chicken korma" - which is only the mildest curry available in a curry-house.
And so... the only thing that I lost on Thursday was my credibility.
Still consumed by the stench of failure, I was determined to close my challenge on a high. This was achieved by getting to levels of drunk that my sixteen-year-old self would have been proud of. After work, I said yes to every beer, glass of wine and shot of vodka that was thrown my way and by 10pm I found myself on the bad side of drunk.
But I persisted! In the spirit of saying "yes", I went to the Soho nightclub, G-A-Y and continued on drinking and dancing to unholy hours of the morning. When asked to have a spontaneous tango with a drag queen who mistook me for being Spanish, I replied with an enthusiastic nod. Such shenanigans continued until the very early hours in the morning and I stumbled home with a feeling of success, for if I came out of this challenge with anything positive, it had be that I tangoed with a drag queen. I mean, that definitely would not have happened if I was being my usual, Debbie Downer self.
On day 7 I said no to everything.
I was so done, finished and annihilated by this challenge (not to mention supremely hungover) that I did not have a single modicum of effort to devote to saying "yes" to anything.
I know that some people have had themselves hospitalised over this challenge and you may find yourself disappointed that the worst torture I endured was enforced Tinder browsing and a mild case of cirrhosis of the liver. If you are one of those people, you are a sadist, pure and simple.
But all jokes aside, I was glad I did the challenge as it taught me how hard it is to be accepting of every offer and request that is thrown your way. Sometimes it's exciting to get out of your comfort zone and only when you're firmly outside of it will you find yourself spontaneously slow-dancing with a drag queen, or if you're truly a daredevil (unlike me), you may find yourself willingly burning your tastebuds off next time you go for a curry.
All that's left to say is: what some class as failure, others deem to be personal progress. And I hope you remember those words when you go to berate me for chickening out of eating a vindaloo.