Learning to say no to opportunities

A few weeks ago, after I drafted my speech ‘Other people perspective’ (the password is Smardzewice, if you want to read it) I emailed it to a lady from one of Swindon charities that used to provide me with advocacy after I got out of psychiatric hospital at the beginning of 2020. Although I didn’t get from the advocacy what I wanted (new door, that got damaged by police breaking in and also apologies) I had a good impression of her, like if she really cared about me, and also she always remembered what happened to me with details. We stayed in touch after that and we occasionally email each other about stuff.

When I emailed her the link to my speech I asked if I can present it in front of their clients and she responded saying she’d need to ask her manager. She emailed me today stating the manager really liked my blog (I wonder which posts she read) and would like to think about possibly offering me opportunity to advocate with them once in a while, or just as a one off. She explained that I won’t be, however, allowed to share my experiences, as they are an organisation that is focused on advocacy and that’s what they get funding for.

I had a really mixed feelings when I read that email. First of all, I started wondering that they already do advocacy, so what they wanted me for? Then, I started wondering why I’m not allowed to share my story? It’s on the blog anyway, so by working with me they will be sharing it indirectly. Then I started wondering how I can actually make advocacy work if I would only be doing that as one off or once every couple of weeks. I remember when I worked with them, me and that lady sometimes exchanged a few emails in one week to update each other on how things are. That won’t be possible if I only come once every couple of weeks. So basically it all didn’t make any sense.

I guess they may actually mean well, they want to give me an opportunity while at the same time make themselves look good by working with a local blogger and the only problem is that they are worried about funding (and can I blame them? There are funding cuts everywhere).

But to be honest it sounded to me like if they said: ‘we really like you so we want to work with you but we don’t want you to do what you are doing, we want you to do what we are doing and we want you to do it for free.’ That doesn’t sound very appealing, does it?

While growing up, during a crisis in Poland, far away from cities and with my undiagnosed autism, I had literally no opportunities so I learned to say yes to whatever was coming my way. However, during the last couple of months I started to be somehow selective. I mean not that I have many choices but blogging in a way that feels true to me is an opportunity so I don’t want to do anything that would make me look inauthentic. And that’s what would happen if I agreed to advocate for that organisation: I’d constantly worry about saying the right thing (as they made it clear that me being myself may jeopardise their funding) and at the end I’d probably get chucked out anyway. And the worst thing would be that I’d have to put that on my blog!

So it was better to say ‘no, thank you’. I did explain that I’m not saying definite no, just until I work out what it is that I can offer them and we can then come back to that conversation. But I really don’t see this happening, so I was only saying that. I guess that is what a neurotypical person would say. Am I right?

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