OPINION: Learning to say no

Adriona Murphy

Adriona Murphy

When I was in high school, one of my teachers talked about the idea of saying “yes” to more things. It was something about gaining more experience in life and being able to live life to the fullest. Say yes to getting that leadership position! Say yes to participating in that play! Say yes to hanging out with your friends! Say yes to going on that date!

But what if I want to say no? Or what if I’m too busy to say yes to all of these things that people are telling me to do. What if, yeah, that role in the play would be great, but I won’t have time to do my homework. Or, yeah, that’s fine, I can pick up your slack on this piece of the project.

This is where my problem comes in.

I am completely unable to say “no” to people. It doesn’t matter who it is. Whether it’s my mom, my best friend, professor or even just a random person from class I don’t know, I just can’t say it. No matter how much it would inconvenience me, I’d figure out some way to fit it into my schedule or life at some point.

Everyone constantly talks about how powerful it is to say yes, and how great it makes you feel. And it does. But, I think it feels better to say no.

Over the years, I’ve found I’ve basically been conditioned to say yes to the point where having to say no gives me some of the most severe anxiety I’ve ever experienced. It’s not even saying no to going out and doing stuff (i.e. picking someone up, doing an additional part of a project, going out for the night) — it’s seeped into everything I do.

I was talking to a friend of mine and he asked me if I ever thought about just telling people how I feel; Saying, “No, that’s not okay,” or “No I’m not doing that.” I laughed. Of course, I can’t do that. That would make me a bad person or selfish, right?

Not necessarily.

There comes a point where saying yes is no longer beneficial to the way you live. Of course, saying yes has brought me a lot of unforgettable experiences, but the word has brought me more power and even more happiness.

Sometimes you just have to look out for yourself.

Adriona Murphy is the opinion editor. Contact her at [email protected]