Life After Yes

Our lives are marked by Yeses. And Nos, of course. But the Yeses, they shine.

Or they don’t.

Proposals, pink lines, acceptance letters, job offers, greenlights, book deals. We spend our lives waiting for one Yes or yearning for another. Each time, we want the Yes so badly we can taste it. Each time, we tell ourselves that things will be different once we get it. Better.

We tell ourselves that we will be different. Better.

And then the yes comes.

And things change. We start wearing that diamond ring or those stretchy jeans with the elastic waistband or that I’m-supposed-to-be-happy smile. But while things look different on the outside, we aren’t different on the inside. We aren’t better. Or happier. Which means that life after yes feels a lot like life before yes. A life that’s Less Than or Not Enough.

But Yes is supposed to be a game changer. It’s supposed to be an us changer. It’s supposed to be the thing that magically transports us from where we are to where we’ve always wanted to go. Yes is supposed to matter.

So why doesn’t it?

Do we expect to much of Yes? Or does the problem lie with us, with our inability to step into Yes, our refusal to let Yes be enough?

I’ve never been very good at Yes. Getting into college and then law school. Landing my dream job. Passing the bar exam. These were big Yeses for me. Each one was a Yes I worked for. A Yes I waited for. Each one took me to a place I wanted to go. But each time, when I got there, there I was. The same person I was before. Not better. Not happier.

Why? Because the Yes wasn’t enough. Which meant than life after it wasn’t either.

This is not how it’s supposed to work.

I know this from experience. I know this because there is one Yes in my past that does shine. It sparkles and glitters and glistens. It’s a Yes that stands in middle of a Before and an After. A Yes that changed things. A Yes that changed me. A Yes that taught me that Life can be different after Yes. That it should be.

This Yes was both given and received. This Yes took the form of an “I Do,” but it was a Yes just the same.

Four and a half years ago, in a big yellow church in Atlanta, Georgia, I said yes to Husband and he said yes to me. And in that moment, I started living happier ever after. Not because I’d snagged the perfect husband or the perfect marriage (I hadn’t). But because in that moment, I was getting more than I deserved, and I knew it. Our relationship, with all its complexities and issues and challenges, was everything I wanted and, frankly, more than I thought I would ever get. And there we were, at that altar, saying Yes. For now. Forever.

That Yes was everything. That Yes was enough. It didn’t matter what happened next week or next year or ten years down the road. What was true in that moment wouldn’t stop being true when things got rocky or rough. Our marriage – a whopping five seconds old – was already a dream come true.

The awareness of that changed me. It made me different. Better. Happier. Which tells me something about Yes that I think we often overlook. It’s easy for us to see Yes as the beginning of something. An engagement. A marriage. A pregnancy. A career. And while it is that in a lot of ways, Yes is also the fulfillment of something. A dream. A wish. A prayer. A promise. Which means that Yes, in itself, IS enough. We have what we wanted – all that we wanted – the moment we get the Yes.

The secret, I think, is in the awareness. Recognizing that this – right here – is the dream-come-true. That pink line. That mortgage. That offer letter. That publishing contract. We didn’t count on a risk-free pregnancy or a problem-free house or a stress-free job. We didn’t expect a bestseller. Before the Yes, the Yes was enough.

The Yes IS enough.

As many of you probably know, the title of today’s post is also the title of my friend Aidan’s debut novel, which hits bookstores today. While I suspect LAY is going to skyrocket to the bestseller list (yes, I think it’s that good), I hope that today will sparkle and shine in Aidan’s mind even if it doesn’t. Because today is a Yes. A giant, neon YES.

And Yes is enough.

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I want to hear your Yes stories! Had life after yes been different? Better? Happier? How has Yes disappointed you?

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