Turning Down Opportunities


It’s not even 3 months into the year yet and I’ve already turned down 3 speaking invitations.

I’m actually proud of myself for this.

I’m not sorry for not being able to show up.

Old Jess would’ve jumped at any opportunity to share my expertise, make a public appearance, recite my poetry, etc.

New Jess now knows her limits. But, more importantly, she knows her worth.

(Okay, enough of this third person narration. It’s weird.)

The reason why this topic is so near and dear to my heart is because it’s directly related to my own case of Superwoman Syndrome.

I thought that if someone asked me to do something for them, I had to say yes. It was the polite thing to do. And it would give me brand exposure. So, why not? Right?


Now, some may say that I can’t “afford” to be missing these types of opportunities because who knows who I could meet and what conversations could arise?

You still don’t have a job yet, you know. They’d say.

But I’m not worried about “them.”

I’m taking control of my own wellbeing and self-worth.

I’ve done dozens of speaking engagements for free. And I drove through insane traffic to get there, too. And had to pay parking fees. And traveled amidst crazy weather. The list goes on.

That ship has surely sailed.

You can’t pay me a fee or a small honorarium to speak to your audience? Okay, I get that. Because: budgets.

How about my gas mileage?

Some press coverage?


Then I can’t make it.

Simple as that.

I remember working with a client who was starting to really get a lot of notoriety by other brands and organizations and the like. She was being asked to speak at places and share her story left and right.

I told her something that I should’ve listened to myself: “You’re getting to the point where you’re going to have to turn down opportunities. So many people are going to be pulling from you and wanting to feature you on their platform. It’s okay to say no. Not everyone is worth your time.”

Can I get an Amen?!

And that’s exactly where I am.

I can’t expect people to pay me what I’m worth if I keep doing things for free.

Maybe I’ll do a couple pro bono engagements here and there.

But not every single time.


I used to think that if my calendar was free, I could make a particular function.


I have to check in with my calendar, my bank account and my body/mind.

That last one is the kicker!

I’ve become so self-aware in the past couple years that I actually listen to when my body speaks to me.

Sometimes I ignore it and get stuck with the consequences.

Like how the last panel I was on, my body froze and I had a contained panic attack.

I exposed myself to certain topics too soon (my best guess) in attempts to be an “expert.”

I needed to expert myself right on to my bed!

Anyway, that’s not an experience I want to relive. And fortunately, it’s not what has had the largest bearing on my saying no to these recent event invitations.

But it is a sign that I can’t just haphazardly do things anymore.

I’m living more intentionally in 2019 and beyond.

Everything matters.

Every step.

Every word.

Every breath.

So, please let this be a word to the entrepreneurs out there.

You are worth your craft!

Do not keep doing your work for free!

You’ll end up having resentment towards your family/friends/fans in the long run. (Because you probably don’t see them as clients or customers yet since you aren’t willing to put a price tag on your service.)

If people really want your service, they’ll pay you.

If not, then they’ll find someone to replace you for cheaper.

It doesn’t mean you’re replaceable. It just means that they’re on a mission to get their needs met.

How much more should you be!

Should WE be!

Because I’m preaching to myself here.

And if you run a program, ministry, organization, etc., please stop expecting that people are going to do things for free just by affiliation to you.

How is anyone going to gain confidence in their craft if it’s just seen as a hobby or a favor?

I wouldn’t be operating in my calling if I continue to just allow this to happen.


Now, this post wasn’t meant to call anyone out.

I truly appreciate that I’ve been acknowledged as a credible source of wisdom and inspiration for various audiences.

But my “nonprofit” work has ended.

It’s taken a toll on me mentally and physically and I’m not going to subject myself to it any longer, just to appease people.

#TimesUp on that.

Plus, it’s totally Biblical.

“For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!” (1 Timothy 5:18)

So, hopefully, as I stick to my standards and align myself with opportunities and organizations that value me (not just want to show me off), I’ll be in a much more fulfilled place.

I’ll keep you posted on this!

A podcast episode that goes great with this topic is Alex Elle’s interview with Deun Ivory. Check it out here.

For anyone who just followed my blog but is unfamiliar with my actual work, feel free to check out my site at www.JessicaSmithMedia.com.

Until Next Time,


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