Hey, People Pleasers! It’s Okay To Say No
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Hey, People Pleasers! It’s Okay To Say No

And you don’t have to write a two-paragraph email apologizing for saying it.

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Hey, People Pleasers! It’s Okay To Say No
Nick Fewings / Unsplash

This is a response to "I'm The Person Who Always Says 'Yes' And I'm Tired Of It"

From being a resident assistant to a volunteer in two different organizations to an honors student and everything in between, I’ve had plenty of experience saying yes to opportunities and events. I’ve also learned how important it is to say no, of course in a people-pleasing, apologetic way, when my schedule is looking out of hand and my social battery is running on fumes.

As a college student, even starting in high school, I feel like we’re told throughout our academic careers to say yes to every opportunity. Whether it’s taking on volunteer work, internships, research, or leadership roles, you’re encouraged to say yes every time you’re offered an opportunity. But what advisors, mentors, and professors don’t tell you is that sometimes you have to say no. Because the more things you say yes to, the more packed your schedule will be, and the more likely your life will become unbalanced. Maybe, just maybe I’m speaking from personal experience.

Saying yes to opportunities is great as you’re gaining experience in a field you may be interested in or becoming active in something you’re passionate about. However, someday you’ll probably hit a breaking point where you realize that you can’t keep up with the commitments you accepted and you’ll have to let some things go. During these first few weeks of my last semester, I realized again that when you’re establishing a new routine, you have to prioritize how you want to use your time rather than jumping into things without reflection. This means deciding which responsibilities you find the most important, rewarding, enjoyable, and valuable to your college experience and future.

To say no, you also have to set boundaries for yourself and understand your needs. Every person is different! I don’t know if it’s because I’m a senior or an introvert or if I genuinely enjoy asynchronous online classes, but I can’t imagine doing four in-person classes most days of the week like some of my friends (kudos to them because my social battery would run out). Keeping this in mind for scheduling this semester, I gave myself more free time throughout the week by making two of my classes online, reminding myself of my boundaries and goals for growth.

This isn’t to say that you should always say no. Saying yes to opportunities led me to some of the most impactful experiences in my college career, from studying abroad to having amazing internships to meeting wonderful people. But saying no also led me to have some beneficial experiences too, whether it allowed me to dedicate more time to things I care about on and off campus or to give myself the energy to achieve my personal goals. Don’t feel bad or guilty about expressing your boundaries because chances are they’re valid and you won’t let anyone down!

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