Do you want to meet up tonight?
Can you cover that extra shift?
Are you really going to take that many credits?
Yes, why not?
Can you do me a favor?
This is pretty much how every conversation goes with me. I feel the pressure to live life to the fullest and somehow I have equated that to saying yes to everything. There’s nothing wrong with saying yes. It opens opportunities, allows friendships to blossom and challenges us. Saying yes is a wonderful thing and yet, the more I say it the more I feel bogged down by the word. Everything I say yes to is another thing to add to the to-do list. It’s another class, another meeting or another person. The more I add, the worse I am at maintaining everything.
I’ve always had a problem with the word no. It felt rude to deny someone a favor, or not make a social event I was invited to. The problem is that I don’t know how to say no to people. I often find myself making up some excuse, or lying to get out of something I don’t want to do. However, that’s part of the problem. Why can’t I simply be honest with myself and those around me?
Could you do me that favor?
No, I’m feeling really emotionally spent right now.
Are you free to come over this Saturday?
No, I think I’d rather stay in by myself this weekend.
There’s a level of honesty and confidence that exists with saying no that I have not yet mastered, but have been getting slowly better at. However, while saying no to other people is a challenge, saying no to myself is even harder. I feel like if I am not taking on enough at once, then I am falling behind. Eventually this turns into feeling that I’m not good enough for my future goals and dreams. To fight the imposter syndrome, I push myself to my limits, but in doing so I deny myself the quiet moments. When I look back, there are times I wished I said no and allowed myself to sleep in, relax or process the heavy set of emotions I always carry. I’ve come to realize that the more I say yes to things, the more I am saying no to myself.
Should I watch a movie tonight?
No, you have that paper to finish.
Can I make it to the gym?
No, you promised to help your friend with something.
Maybe I’ll get an extra hour of sleep?
No, otherwise you’re going to be behind on everything.
I know I’m not the only one like this. As college students, we are always doing one thing after the other, trying to seize as much as we can from life as possible. I think we all need to understand that saying no is not wrong or rude. It is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. In anything we say no to, there is a yes around the corner. Saying no is about saying yes to ourselves and our mental health. Life is not about doing everything, it’s about enjoying the things we do make time for. It’s not always easy and sometimes we need to say yes to more things than we can handle, but I find it comforting that I always have the option of saying no. I just need to figure out how to exercise that option more.