If anyone ever asked me what the most powerful thing I ever did for myself was, I would tell them it would be learning how to say the word “no”, loud, proud and without letting the look on someone’s face dictate how I feel about myself. You see, as women we are taught to be passive, compliant and never use the word ‘no’. “No” comes with so many connotations, that it goes from being a simple two letter word to a thousand statements about our character, not one of them nice.
We are taught that “no” means we are headstrong. “No” means disappointment for other people and disappointing other people is a terrible thing to do. But most importantly “no” means allowing yourself to take up space when most of the time, society makes you want to feel like you are not entitled to.
But allowing yourself the right to say ‘no’ to people is establishing yourself and who you are as a person when it comes to things you want. It helps people respect you even if it doesn’t mean they like you at the time. And most importantly, it helps you start respecting yourself.
Saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean you are not kindhearted anymore. Saying ‘no’ means you have firm boundaries other people do not have the right to push. Whether it comes to your body, going somewhere you do not want to, spending time around toxic people, doing activities you consider draining or harmful to you, the word is a gateway drug to fully empowering yourself.
These days I no longer care when someone views me poorly if I have said ‘no’ to being around them, or helping them with something which is deeply draining for me. My first step to claiming myself and becoming more than a doormat in my own eyes was an unapologetic ‘no’ in the face of someone clearly taking advantage of me.
It opened a whole new world of self care and empowerment for me, and there is absolutely no way that I am going back to the girl I was before knowing “No” is the most powerful thing a girl can use in this world.