When to Say No

Submitted by Rebekka Jay, VP of Membership

There is a lot of gray (or grey, I think you can use either form but in kindergarten I was taught gray, and grey makes me think of Grey’s Anatomy, anyways…) there is a lot of gray area when it comes to saying no and choosing yourself. Every situation is different, and there is no rule book on how to handle all of it. We learn by experiences and the experiences of others. Saying no can be very hard. We can feel guilty from it, we can feel like we aren’t being a good friend/classmate/teammate when we say no, and much more. It’s always good to remember to be respectful and understanding when you say no to something, even when the other person isn’t.

Saying no is more than just not wanting to do something; it’s knowing your boundaries and worth, and respecting yourself enough to keep little parts of your time for yourself. This is coming from someone who is in almost everyone organization and club her school and community has to offer, I love being involved and staying busy. There are many things I do not say no to, because I know work has to be done and you have responsibilities when you commit to different things. But, I used to not say no to anything. I would do anything anyone asked of me, and I started to overload myself with tasks to do. I would take on all of these projects and things because I knew I had the ability to do them, and I wanted to show I was able to be independent and people could depend on me to do work and do it well. There’s nothing wrong with doing work and showing independence, the part that was wrong was doing it for the approval of others, all the time. I was so worried about impressing everyone else, that I forgot about myself. I was doing fun things and things I enjoyed, but I was forgetting to have fun and enjoying doing the work. 

I started to realize just how much work I was putting on myself when I had someone ask me one time what I was doing that weekend and I listed off my different projects and activities, and they stared at me like I was crazy. I asked why, and the response I got was, “That is way too much for someone your age, you should go have fun instead.” I shrugged it off and laughed, saying that it was fun and I liked being busy. When I got home though, I started to look at my list of things and I started asking myself why I decided to say yes to each of them. My answer to almost everything was because it was for someone else. I realized then that I needed to start prioritizing me and my own time. So, I started saying no, small things at first, or offering to help, but not do it all on my own. This allowed me to still give my time and show my dedication, but allowed me more time to do things I loved and truly wanted to do. 

Now, this doesn’t mean I’m still not very busy with various things and I can feel a little overwhelmed from time to time, but I don’t feel like I’m walking around with a huge weight on me anymore. I’m doing things I enjoy now and my work has improved since I’ve allowed myself to say no to some things. I’ve also had more time with friends and my family. Like I said, every situation is different and it isn’t always easy to say no, but once you find your happy medium, it is worth it.