The question in the students’ book was: have you ever said yes to something when you meant no? I would not normally have a profound thought about this question but because it came up in an academic venue, and somehow I have profound thoughts during this very basic class — they float somewhere near the ceiling, above me and the students.
I realized, I have said yes when I meant no regarding research more times than I can count: yes to projects others wanted done or to doing them in ways they wanted them done, when I wanted to say no and work on my own ideas or take my work in a direction I had in mind myself.
We are supposed to compromise and be non-arrogant and take direction and be grateful anyone will look at our work at all, and realize that wiser and more experienced brains than our own have suggested we do things certain ways. We are supposed to do this or face certain death.
I do not in fact agree with that, it seems, and there have always been things I really wanted to do, it seems. And I perceive life as having been more complex but it does all boil down to this: every academic problem I have had, has involved saying yes when I meant no.
This is important because we are constantly told to “say no” more often — say no to what we enjoy or find important, so as to be able to say yes to the authorities and to everything that has been hallowed and designated as good sense.
We are told, in effect, to say no to ourselves and our interests, and this self destruction is sold to us as self protection.