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What I Learned by Saying No

What I Learned by Saying No

I learned the importance of saying no at a very early age and from then until high school I was pretty good at saying it when I needed to (and sometimes when I didn’t need to.) When I got to college however, it seemed to have gotten a little more difficult. Maybe I was caught up in the fact that you’re supposed to be so involved in college you don’t have time to breathe, or maybe I just forgot how to say it to people.

No: “a two letter word that can somehow dictate your entire life”

Whatever the reason was, I found myself sinking by the third week of my freshman year. I kept telling myself that “this is how college is supposed to be.” By the end of October my life could be compared to the Titanic after it hit the iceberg: sunk. The worst part? I continued to say “yes” to everything. Clubs, organizations, societies, parties, social gatherings, you name it I was probably there. Maybe I had a major case of FOMO (fear of missing out) or maybe I was just afraid of saying it.

Keirston Marie. Via Flickr

Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

By spring semester of freshman year I was exhausted and not the kind of exhausted that coffee can fix. I was mentally wiped. I started skipping classes, my grades dropped and everyday was a huge struggle. I found myself sleeping more than the healthy amount, and my friends had to do some major persuading to get me to even leave the dorm. This was NOT how college was supposed to be.


Skip ahead to right now. I have re-taught myself to say no. I’m still involved in clubs and organizations and I have even joined a few and I still have time to be social. So, here’s the deal: saying ‘no’ definitely takes some guts in college. You have to remember that this is your life. You should enjoy this time and you should not be surrounded by extra stress. We can all agree that classes take up a huge amount of time and if you have a job you have even less time for anything else.

Being Involved Is Still Important

Being involved is important though. The experience you gain from clubs or organizations are things that you can’t learn in a classroom. I’ve learned that to gain these experiences though, you need to narrow down what extracurriculars are important to you. As a strategic communications major, clubs that don’t involve writing or marketing don’t really pertain to me. I have also never been very athletic, so why should I join an intramural sport, when I could totally just use that time to go to the gym (and also save myself a TON of embarrassment?) The time that I was spending spreading myself too thin could have been used to make papers and assignments better or to just collect myself.  Sometimes, it is absolutely necessary to say no, and that is so okay.

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If there is one thing that I learned by saying no it’s that I deserve the right to relax. I deserve time to myself. I am not defined as a person by the clubs I’m involved in or the grades I receive.

Remember a time when you have spread yourself too thin or when you had trouble saying no? Comment below or share with a friend!

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