The Word "No" Gives Me Anxiety
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The Word "No" Gives Me Anxiety

"No" has a lot more power than you think.

The Word "No" Gives Me Anxiety
Kerri Dowling

I have a love/hate relationship with the word "no".

It gives you the power to correct, respond or put and end to something. It is very important to be able to say "no" to certain things, whether it be of a more casual or serious matter. But it also can hurt you.

When you have a dream or a drive to do something, you always want to hear "yes, go for it".

When I was a little kid, all I ever wanted to do was to be an actress. I remember watching television shows and always imagining myself being in the scene with them. My sister and I would always be approached by people that would ask our parents if they'd ever considered having us audition for television. I remember one time specifically when they handed my parents their business card and I begged for hours for them to let me do it.

The answer was no.

To give them the benefit of the doubt, I was super young. How could I possibly know what I genuinely wanted to do with my life and future career at that age? From that perspective, I completely understand why they held me back. But even so, My passion never changed. I wanted to act.

When I got into middle school, I felt so strongly about becoming an actress. I decided that I would go on a walk with my mom around the neighborhood so that I could have a serious talk about it with her. I was so nervous, I almost didn't follow through with it. I wanted it so badly, I just wanted her to understand that. So I asked her if I could and if she would help me, but I didn't get the answer I wanted. She told me that it is too hard of a business to get into, that I needed to be multi-talented and that I am not skinny enough by Hollywood's standard.

The answer was no.

I was completely devastated. I had been so sure that if I had spilled my heart to her of how important this was to me, she'd let me do it.

In middle school, I had the option to take musical theatre as an elective. I really wanted to do it, because then I would get the chance to finally act. But for some reason, the thought of doing it made me so scared and anxious, so I chose to do band, which was already familiar to me. Even so, during all three years of middle school, I kept wondering and wishing what it would have been like if I had done it.

When I got into high school, I heard the school announce audition dates for the Fall play. Since I was in marching band and the two schedules would conflict greatly, I didn't even bother to think twice about not auditioning. But then, marching band season ended, and eventually the Spring musical auditions came around, and I was a mess. I was told that everyone that auditioned would get a role no matter what. That should have been enough for me to go for it, right? No. I was scared. Not about the audition process, but about the acting and singing. I haven't had any acting experience. I'm not the worlds greatest sing or dancer. It is all I ever wanted to do, but now that I have the perfect opportunity to do it, I stop myself. I was always told "no" before, so how can it possibly be okay now? I was anxious. Beyond anxious. I felt like since I wasn't good enough before, why would I be good enough now?

It was the day of the auditions and I wasn't going to do it. It wasn't until one of my friends, who was a senior at the time, encouraged me to do it that I finally gave in. He reassured me by saying that I should do it because it will be fun and that I would regret it if I didn't. And he was right. I most definitely would regret it. I sped home, got changed, filled out an audition form, and sped back to school to audition. I didn't have a resume to turn in. I didn't have a head shot to give them. My anxiety levels were off the charts, but I was there and there was no turning back. The audition was not great. I was scared beyond belief, shaking like a leaf and singling like I had never sung before in my entire life. But I did it. And I got to be in the musical.

It was the best decision of my life. Every time I am on stage, I feel so alive and unstoppable. I continued to do the Spring musicals every year after, but then Junior year happened. I was still in marching band, but I really wanted to do the Fall play as well. There were two students in marching band that were able to audition and do both band and the play at the same time. So, I asked my band director if it would be okay if I could audition as well. He wasn't very excited about the idea. He compared me to one of the students that is doing bot and explaining why it is okay for them to do both and why it is not such a good a good idea for me to do. He told me that I should audition, but if I didn't get a big role, then I should just focus on band. So in other words, he basically told me no, but did it subtly in a way that wouldn't completely destroy the thought of it. But I got the message.

I didn't bother to audition.

That conversation really put me off and I just couldn't bring myself to try. It really hurt. So when Senior year came along, I didn't allow myself to be put in a position where I could be told no. I quit band and I auditioned for the Fall play. I got cast in a supporting role. I was so happy, I cried. It was the first time I ever got cast in a larger role and it was the most magical moment in my life. I eventually got cast in a supporting role in the Spring musical as well, which was just the cherry on top of it all.

Now I am in college. My major is Media and Cinema Studies with a minor in Theatre Studies. I haven't had time to really audition much so I haven't thought about it much. But since I've had more free time recently, I've thought about how I haven't been able to act as much as I want to. And when I thought about auditioning for something, I immediately got anxious.

I was confused; why would I be getting anxious? I've auditioned before in high school, why am I backing out now? Then I realized it's because it's different now. It's new. It's not high school anymore. This is bigger. But most of all, it's because there is one little word stuck in the back of my head that is preventing me from doing so.


I've been told no repeatedly to the point where even when I was able to prove them wrong, it was never enough to really cancel out the ever present "no". I get anxiety over the fact that I am not talented enough, skinny enough, pretty enough or smart enough to do it. I feel like I am just going to make a fool of myself in front of the people who have been training for this career path since they were kids.

I am telling you this because there is no way I'm the only one that is living like this. No matter who you are, when someone comes to you and asks if they can do something that is important and meaningful to them, rather than saying no, help them. Whether that be doing research on how to get started, pointing them in the right direction, or even telling them that they can when they are older, please do that. Maybe their dream may seem like something they might regret, instead of saying no, say okay, lets research about it and see the pros and cons of it and see if you still think it is right for you and go from there. Don't completely destroy their hope. Give them a chance to see for themselves what is right and wrong for them.

Saying no to someone's dream feels like the equivalent to someone laughing at it. And in the words of my favorite actor and author, Chris Colfer, "...laughing at someone's dream was one of the cruelest things one person could do to another.”

Be careful with the way you use the word "no". It's given me anxiety. I'm lucky that it hasn't given me something worse.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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