This is a response to What It's Like To Be The Girl Who Can't Say No.
In high school, I was the definition of a people-pleaser. I relied heavily on my friends and those around me to see what the cool things were to say, wear and who to be. My opinions were never really shared in fear that someone would not like me and I so desperately wanted to be liked. It also set me up to be walked all over and seen as the girl that is too nice.
Fast forward seven years, I went away to college and “found” myself. Found meaning I learned what was important to me, what I liked based on my own opinions and found independence in myself that was non-existent through most of my high school years. I had gone through romantic and platonic relationships that served me and some that did not. Some of those moments truly altered my life and my way of thinking. But that was all part of my growth and more than anything, I was doing things for me.
Now that I am in my mid-twenties, I find myself being that scared 15-year-old that is trying to navigate high school by just trying to fit in. Instead, I am trying to navigate adulting. Between figuring out the corporate world in the middle of a pandemic and making new friends post-grad, the goal is to get by with little to no stress as possible. Unfortunately, this has compromised my ability to speak my opinions and my ability to say no.
My current job offers me a lot of opportunities to try new things that I feel like I can’t say no to. And frankly, I don’t want to because I am soaking up every opportunity to try and learn something new. I say yes to any friend that is willing to hang out with me. Even if that means dropping everything I am doing, or compromising a night of self-care to see them. Because my fear is that if I do say no, they won’t consider me to hang out again. Or my job won’t see me as a “team player.” My therapist broke the news to me the other night: “Megan, you’re a people-pleaser.”
I was disappointed. All that hard work that I had done in college seemed like it didn’t amount to anything. The truth is, I don’t think my people-pleasing behavior ever went away. I became a more authentic version of myself, but I was still anxious about what others would think when they saw that side. Now that I am aware of it, I make note of when it is happening (which is still a work in progress). When I slip up, I learn to give myself grace. While I know that it’s hard for me to say no, I know it will get easier because I will listen to myself instead of others and what they may think.
I believe there is such a thing as being too nice. I experienced it first-hand in high school and have done my best to not be such a people-pleaser. While I am not perfect, I have worked on it a lot and still working on it today. Just because you may not be able to say no right now does not mean you can’t assert yourself in other ways. Voicing your opinions and feelings is one way to be nice while not people-pleasing. It won’t happen overnight, but it will get easier to listen to you. To the person who can’t say no, know that you are not alone.