Don’t be afraid to say “no”

Lesley Reno (1)

No — two letters, one vowel, one consonant. As far as words go, it is a simple one with a simple meaning. If no is such a simple word, why is it so hard for some people, including me, to say it? I have always struggled with saying no, and that struggle only became an even bigger burden when I entered college.

I never thought Kirksville or Truman State University would have so many opportunities. There is an abundance of things to do, from the roller rink to Train Bridge to Thousand Hills State Park. On top of that, there is always some event on campus that I feel like I just have to go to. There is always something to do.

I am the type of person who will say yes to just about everything. I like helping people and dislike disappointing people. If someone asks me to do something, chances are I will say yes. I like seeing my schedule full of exciting things — dinner plans, a movie with a friend, dancing, sorority meetings — you name it, I will probably be there. Do I want to grab dinner with friends in my sorority? Yes. Do I want to go watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the night before a big test? Heck yes. Will I listen to a friend talk about her boyfriend or life issues until 3 a.m. when I have to get up for work at 5:30 a.m.? You bet. I pride myself on being the friend people can turn to when they have an issue and need a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on.

Sometimes, though, it all becomes too much, and I feel like I am drowning in a pool of promises I can’t bring myself to break. There are days, even weeks, when I find my energy zapped right out of me because I’m trying to juggle my various responsibilities. It gets so bad sometimes that I develop severe headaches and nausea. One time I accidentally skipped class for a day because I slept through my alarm. I ended up sleeping 14 hours, and that’s just not healthy. Now I’m not saying in any way, shape or form that you should ignore your responsibilities and become a couch potato that never does anything. It is important to participate and be an active member in friendships, relationships, club sports teams, sororities and fraternities. It is just as important, though, to balance your time doing these things with maintaining a healthy mind and body. Being mentally and emotionally healthy is extremely important — especially for college students, who unfortunately face mental health problems regularly.

Learning to say no is a very valuable trait. It was a lesson I had to learn the hard way so, hopefully, you don’t have to. Sometimes when you say yes to others you are actually saying no to yourself and to what you want to do or what is best for you. If you have an important test to study for and you don’t have the time to go out and eat with friends, don’t. On the other hand, if you are feeling blue and need to cry to a friend then, by all means, skip that club meeting. The moral of this rant is that “no” is not as negative of a word as others may lead you to believe. Saying “no” does not make you a bad or unkind person. Giving yourself permission to say “no” to things that drain your energy or make you unhappy makes you an even better person. After all, if you don’t take care of yourself, there will be no one there to say yes when it is actually needed.