This article originally appeared on VICE Germany
I love saying no to things. It's what I do. A friend asked me recently, "Hey Michael, I'm hosting a spontaneous, crazy night of board games at my place with some friends later. Do you wanna come?" I felt like hissing at her. Genital herpes sounded more appealing than a "spontaneous, crazy night of board games".
"You're always so negative," she fumed. "Give it a chance."
Honestly, I don't think very highly of folks who consider a round of board games entertaining. But on some level, she had a point. Maybe I do need to be more positive? Maybe I ought to try new things? So, in the spirit of adventure, I decided that I'd spend a week saying "Yes" to every question I was asked.
From the get-go, it was difficult to find things to say "Yes" to. Probably because I didn't really leave my apartment. Luckily, Facebook was full of glorious clickbait for me to agree to. Yes internet, I would like to know what Kendall Jenner's worst outfit looks like but unfortunately it's not really the point of this project.
Things escalated rather quickly however when I visited a restaurant with my friends. "Would you like another glass of wine, sir?" Yep. "Coffee?" Sure. "Would you like to try our creme brûlée?" Of course.
"Wow Michael, you aren't holding back tonight," me friend said. As delicious as the experience was, wine and desserts weren't going to broaden my horizons either. I needed to put more effort into gathering new experiences.
It didn't take long before opportunity came knocking. As soon as I arrived home, an email rattled in from a radio station that had seen my YouTube channel and wanted me to do a one-hour impromptu live show. As a person who gets anxious easily, the idea of live radio scared the life out of me. What if I snort while laughing and the entire country hears it? What if I have a panic attack and pass out? Lying through my teeth, I replied, "Sure, I'd love to."
On the way to the radio station, I felt as if I was going on a Tinder date: Excited, more than a little sceptical and full of possible excuses to escape if necessary.
After arriving and greeting the staff, I was politely handed a glass of water – which I then proceeded to spill absolutely everywhere. Thankfully, it narrowly avoided the control board. I wouldn't call myself a body language specialist, but it was pretty obvious that at that point a fair few people wanted to kill me.
Aside from that little cock-up, the performance went surprisingly smoothly. I dropped a few wisecracks and juggled calls from enthusiastic listeners. "Haha Tamara, you're really one of a kind!" Though, to be fair, she wasn't.
It was actually a great success.
The next day, while swanning through the streets, still high from my not entirely shit radio debut, I got stopped by one of those charity clipboard ladies. "Do you have a moment to talk about the rainforest?" FFS.
"Yes, I have plenty of time," I told her. She began reciting her script and I nodded along like some robot programmed to mimic humans. I actually found the whole thing pretty interesting. "So, would you like to adopt a tree?" my new friend asked. Luckily, just then, a text ticked in from my mate. "Do you want to work out together tomorrow?"
My friend – who is ludicrously athletic and gets up at 7AM to do CrossFit at least three times a week – had been asking me to come check it out for months. As little tears of laziness trickled down my face, I told him I'd love to.
I'm not athletic at all. Like, at all. If I bought something in Sports Direct, my bank would probably call me to ask if my card had been stolen.
"You know what? I'm not feeling that good! Maybe it's that creme brûlée from a few days ago," I lied. My friend quickly realised that I was dreading the exercise and began trying to placate me. "Don't worry, it's really chill. It's usually just four of us with the trainer and if someone starts burning out, the others will cheer them on."
How did he expect me to relax when he was describing my worst nightmare?
I got to the gym at 8AM. Apparently that was the late lesson. Worryingly, the first thing the trainer said was, "You came on a bad day."
"Yeah. No shit. Any day that starts with CrossFit is a bad day."
"Today, instead of doing all sorts of stuff, we're all just going to do 1000 kettle bell swings." Oh god.
"You think you can manage??"
"Yes." Again, I was lying.
After just 100 swings, I started sweating profusely. The friction of the iron handles made everyone's hands bleed. By the end of it, my fingers looked as if I'd been high-fiving a blender.
"How many swings have you done, Michael?" the trainer asked me after 30 minutes.
"600," I groaned.
"Okay, that's enough. You're already sweating more than you should be." He didn't have to tell me twice.
After the training session, I was in so much pain that I could barely stand up. Even the clipboard lady who'd harassed me a few days ago looked at me with pity as I limped past her. She could definitely tell that it took me three minutes to clamber into my boxers that morning.
I stumbled into a restaurant bathroom. A short trip that felt like the final hundred feet of a marathon. As soon as I began to piss, I noticed that my urine was a very strange colour. I immediately hobbled towards my doctor to find out if I was falling apart.
"You have rhabdomyolysis," she explained. "That means your muscle tissue is breaking down. What did you do to yourself?"
"I did a trial CrossFit session."
She must have been in pain holding the tears of laughter back. I checked into the hospital immediately and was told I'd need to stay there overnight so I could get injections to counteract my heightened "CK count".
"Yes," I replied enthusiastically. That time I actually meant it.
As I lay alone in that hospital room, unable to sleep because of the dripping of my IV, I wondered if this was the "new experience" I'd been looking for. Sure, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, but I thought that meant eating curiously mouldy cheeses or trying Zumba.
The following morning, I was told that my blood levels were improving and I was safe to go home. Because of yesterday's turbulence, I had completely forgot to check my messages. Aside from the usual spam, I had a text from my board game obsessed friend. This time she wanted to know if I'd be interested in checking out a ukulele concert. I couldn't help but wonder why I associated with this woman?
Instead of immediately agreeing, I took a moment to reflect on my week. I remembered my intimate conversation with the rainforest lady, the hellish kettle bell swings and, last but not least, my catastrophic hospital stay.
As I typed "no", I felt as if I could breathe again. I pressed send with a satisfied smile and limped out of there, leaving my positive outlook by the hospital bed.
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