Learning to Say “No”


Holly Weller, Region III SAC

August 28, 2017

I find myself doing as much as I can in school, work, and extracurricular activities. I love to know that I am helpful to people or that people turn to me when they need help. I like being involved in anything I can, even if I do not have the time for it.

I agree to presentations, papers, projects, and extra work that I honestly do not have time for because I am a people pleaser. I also have FOMO or the Fear Of Missing Out. If my friends want to do an activity but I have a paper due that night, I will put off the paper to not miss the fun. I do not just do this with fun activities, I do it for work as well. If there is a presentation that needs covering last minute but I technically have class, I will try to get out of that class to do the presentation.

In earlier college days this was not as much of an issue, but as I have progressed in work, school, and peer education, I started to do it more and more.  It got to the point that I could not tell someone where I actually needed to be at a specific time. Was I supposed to be in class? Not sure. Was I supposed to be meeting up for a group project? I did not know.

This last year was a difficult one for me. After putting everyone and everything before myself for a while, it took a toll on my mental and emotional health. I realized that because I was so afraid to tell people no and possibly let them down, I was avoiding working on my self. I had placed my friends, my job, my extracurricular activities, everything, before me and my well-being. Not saying no pushed me to my breaking point. It was to the point I was emotional and people stopped believing me when I told them something that had happened. I was "being dramatic," "over analyzing," or "I just interpreted it that way." Not having people, that I cared about, believe me was the last straw.

I started weeding out my life. I got rid of things that did not make me happy, whether that was activities or clutter, I cleaned everything. Then I started looking into my relationships. Which ones built me up, which ones made me want to be better, which one's exemplified qualities of a healthy relationship and I built on those.  I made new friends and reconnected with old ones. I explained to them that I would put them first but I really needed them not to let me and slowly but surely, I am learning to say no. My friends know to ask me if I am okay and if I am feeling too stressed. They encourage me to say no to activities and remind me of all the current tasks I am handling. I keep a planner now to help me visualizes what I have to do. Now when I am asked to do a new project or task I can visually see what I already have to do.

This year at work my goal is to not go as much over my hours and to make sure, school always comes first. Tonight, as I am writing this (last minute of course because I said yes to a lot of things I should not have) I said no to cover a shift for someone at work and it feels good. It is an immensely difficult task to say no when I am not use to it, but my mental health is more important than whatever I keep saying yes to. I know now that I cannot give anything my all if I am not at my best.

Here are some tips I learned while working on saying no: try rephrasing it. “I appreciate your offer, but I’m afraid I can’t,” or “Thanks for thinking of me, but I have too much on my plate right now.” When saying no, simply state that you don’t have time. Most people will accept that you cannot do it without you explaining everything you have going on. Here is one of the websites that helped me. Now it is time to start a great year of putting mental health and well-being first and not an afterthought!

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