“No” is a simple two letter word but when we’re delivering it, it often sounds like we’re attempting to say onomatopoeia or “Susie sells seashells down by the seashore.” Difficult and long, our tongue trips up on the letters before we finally give up and push it aside. Why is it so hard to say something simple though? Why do we constantly say yes to the things we secretly want to say no to?
Luckily for you, I’m an expert in saying no, even though it wasn’t always this way. In high school and college, I would let people walk all over me, sometimes paying for people’s lunches and getting roped into things I didn’t want to do. My willingness to please became the source of many resentments and paper thin friendships. When I moved to New York, I moved into a studio apartment and let EVERYONE stay with me. It became a hotel that was overrun by friends, friends of friends, and people I’ve never actually met before. Oftentimes, I would meet someone and they’d be like, “Oh, I stayed at your place once when you were in California! Cute apartment!” It was then that I realized I had been too generous of a host. It wasn’t my friends’ fault though. They let me know exactly what was going on. I was just terrible at establishing boundaries. Whenever people would ask if they could stay with me, I would feel bad turning them down, so I would invariably say yes, even though I really, really didn’t want to.
This whole “saying yes” thing changed, however, when I graduated college, got a full-time job and moved into a two-bedroom apartment with a friend of mine. Suddenly I was able to say the word I once feared the most and with gusto! Getting older and having a busier life does that to you, you know. Why do you think old people are so damn crabby? It’s because they’ve lived a long life and are a O-V-E-R pleasing others. That’s kind of what happened to me except I’m only 25 and I don’t even have a whole lot going on. But that’s what happens when you spend your life being a “YES” person. One day you just snap and go in the opposite direction. You operate on extremes, suddenly saying no to things you should’ve said yes to. It’s only been a year since I’ve been using the word “NO” with people and I think I’m still drunk on the liberation it gives me. Hopefully the dust will settle and I’ll level out. As it stands, I’ve become a little bit of a brat who won’t do anything, which is also no fun.
It’s important to learn how to say no to people. When we’re in our twenties, I feel like we’re so ruled by our feelings of guilt that we have trouble setting limits with people. If you fail to establish boundaries though, you’ll just end up attracting a bunch of users and fall into some toxic relationships. Everyone has that one friend they have trouble saying no to. It sucks! Just say no and if they can’t handle it and guilt trip you, then they’re crappy friends who deserve to get voted off the island. If you can say no to that joint that’s being casually passed around, you can certainly say no to a boring catch up date with someone from high school.