It's Okay to Say "No"
Confession time: I’m a people-pleaser. I have this need to make people like me, which often results in me bending over backwards for people who don’t always deserve or appreciate it. Basically, this behavior turned me into a “yes woman.”
I used to be afraid to say “no” to things because I didn’t want to be the killjoy. I also didn’t want to feel left out, so I would go along to parties in college that I never wanted to go to in the first place. The potential FOMO sometimes outweighed my desire to spend Friday night in, watching a movie alone. The anxiety of making waves by not going along with certain things drove me to say “yes” when I didn’t need to.
I went out of my way to agree to do things that inconvenienced me so I could make others comfortable. From driving totally out of the way to take someone home and pretending it wasn’t a big deal to go on an upside-down roller coaster I was terrified of. I would get in over my head offering to help people with large-scale projects because I wanted them to see me as agreeable and dependable. Most of the time, I just ended up being exhausted, both mentally and physically.
I can think of so many times I sacrificed my time and energy to make someone else happy because I was worried of what they would think if I said “no.” I cared more about other people being comfortable than myself being comfortable, which doesn’t make much sense if you think about it. The desire to be liked drove me to burnout more than I care to admit.
Here’s my advice: Don’t say “yes” because you’re worried someone will be disappointed if you say “no.” Only say “yes” if you want to fully commit your time and energy to something. If there is something you’d rather be doing, say “no.” Life is too short to spend your time doing things other people want to do instead of what you want to do. You’re not obligated to say “yes” to anyone or anything!
As a recovering “yes woman,” I’m trying to put myself first more than I used to. My new goal is to be okay with saying “no.” If I don’t want to do something, I won’t do it and I won’t feel bad for passing on it. It’s my new form of self-care: only doing the things that I enjoy or that make me happy. I am working on having more confidence and feeling more comfortable in my choices, so if I want to say “no,” I am happy with that choice and stand by it, instead of having FOMO for something that likely wouldn’t have been fun for me anyway.
Of course, some things have to be done that aren’t necessarily enjoyable, like cleaning your bathroom or doing taxes. But remember that when it comes to social situations, you have a lot more power than you think. It can be cathartic and freeing just to say “no.”