When I was in seventh grade and I watched "27 Dresses" for the first time, the scene that stuck with me the most was the one where Jane learns to say no.
For about my entire adolescence, I was a push over. I would do anything that any of my friends wanted because I wanted all of them to like me, because somehow, somewhere, the idea that the amount of people who liked me somehow amounted to my personal worth. It was the wrong idea.
I would go to things I didn't want to go to or help people with assignments when I didn't really have time. You'd think that this problem was even, all around, but it wasn't. Not only did I do favors for everyone: friends, family, acquaintances, but also for the boys I had crushes on.
You'd be surprised at the extent I went to. (Staying up till 1 in the morning when I usually go to bed at 9 to help him study for a test that I had to take myself, but had already studied for because he didn't want to study alone. He COULD study alone, he didn't WANT to study alone.)
It wasn't until college that I realized when to say no. I started out small, telling my friends that invited me to things, begging me to go that I didn't want to. And, you know what 7th grade me never would have thought would happen did. My friends would say okay and move on. We were still friends. Their opinion on my hadn't changed. THEY STILL LIKED ME.
I started out with my friends, and slowly worked up to people with more power in my life, like my professors. In all honesty, the first time I said no to a professor didn't go over very well. She gave me an F on that assignment. Guess some people can't take constructive criticism.
But, this is a learning process, and soon I learned how and when to say no. Sometimes it is as simple as just using that word, sometimes its phrasing that one word into a much more professional and eloquent paragraph.
You can google "learning how to say no" and get a lot of advice, but what I found to be the one thing that has kept me saying no, even to people that I love, is the idea of a mental health day. Everyone, no matter who you are, what gender you identify as, what ethnicity you have or what income you were born into, everyone needs to take time for themselves.
And, when you're busy with school and homework, work and obligations, trying to fit in time for you and yourself can be a challenge, and saying no to a friend is probably the last thing that you want to do.
But, you should.
You will be better for it, and if that person really is a friend, then they'll understand that sometimes, when you have the time, you really should take those two hours that they want you to use to edit their essay to read a book. Watch a movie. Get a pedicure. Take a bath. Your friend will probably agree that you need the time for yourself too, and maybe they will even see, if you're lucky, that if they just take the time to revise their own essay, they'll learn how to do it.
Take those couple of hours when you get, every chance you get, because sometimes, we need to be selfish, even though taking time to take care of yourself isn't really selfish, it just makes sense.