No. Just No.

I Say No

No. It’s such a short and simple word. It’s one of the first words we learn to say as children. It’s super easy to spell. And yet, sometimes, this word comes attached with so much headache inducing guilt and stress that it should be considered a perfectly legitimate reason to leave work (and still get paid). Why is it that the word “no”, the word we’ve been saying for practically our entire lives, can be one of the most difficult things for us to say?

Life is busy. Holy hell is life busy. And the thing is, nearly everyone is busy. I’m busy. You’re busy. We are all busy busy. And yet, we truly struggle to say “no” to things that make us even busier. I mean, sure, I work a full-time job, am planning a wedding, write at least 6 blog posts a week, am trying to (finally) finish a book, spend time with my fiance, and see my family and friends every once in a while, but yeah, I can totally bake 5 dozen cupcakes for your baby shower. Except, no, no I can’t.

Or, what if I’m invited to do something I’m not really interested in doing. Say, for example, attend a waterpark where there are lines for every slide and pool but not one person is in the bathroom (think about it…). If it’s not something I am interested in a doing, why should I feel like I can’t say “no” to that? Why should people give me shit for it? Why am I not allowed to say “no” to something I don’t want to do? Why is it considered bitchy for me to say “no”? And, if I am allowed to say “no”, why should I have to make up an acceptable excuse for saying “no”? I can’t tell you how sick I am of people saying “yes” to things and then bailing the last minute when they suddenly “don’t feel well” except I totally just saw them having all kinds of fun out and about around town? I would much, much rather you have just said “no” from jump street, (Address 23, you can’t miss it, it’s right next to 21), than tell me “yes” if you weren’t interested. But people only do that because they are afraid of the implications of “no”. They’re afraid that people will interpret “no” as “I’m not really your friend.” or “You’re boring as hell to be around.” or “I have better offers.” when really the only thing “no” means is “no”.

We don’t say “no” because we want everyone to like us all the time, because we don’t want people to think negatively of us, because gosh darn it, we live in a “yes” society. Or, you know, it could be something completely different. I Β don’t really have the answer. Β All I know is that I am exhausted with feeling guilty for saying “no”. So, I’m not going to feel guilty anymore. I’m going to say “no” when that’s what I want to say. Β I have a right to say “no”, we all do. No?

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37 thoughts on “No. Just No.

  1. I am in complete agreement with this post.

    I’m also to a point where I no longer feel bad about not being interested in the same topics as everyone I meet. For example, my boyfriend is really into the Olympics, where I really don’t care too much and/or get really annoyed by the commentators and the obvious gender bias. In this and other situations I am past the point where I feel like I have to pretend to be interested–which is not to say that I’m like, “I don’t care so shut the hell up, I don’t want to hear about it.” It’s more like “That is neat that this is a thing you’re interested in. Feel free to tell me about it, but don’t be upset if I’m not as enthusiastic as you, because I simply don’t have the same level of interest that you do.”

  2. I struggle with it, the result of which is that I’ve been a bridesmaid 5 times (maid of honor twice), planned baby showers, surprise birthday parties, and vacations for other people, redone a bazillion resumes, written letters of recommendation by the box-full, house-sat, pet-sat, baby-sat, and rarely just SAT down.

    But I’m learning. Thanks for the reminder. πŸ™‚

  3. interesting article…but maybe the vast majority of people are afraid to say “no” because they don’t want to dissapoint anybody ,or they are taught that “no” is not right during their childhood.But yet people just refuse to admit the truth and simply declare what they want and need .

  4. Love this article because it really hits home. I have recently started learning to say no (in very honest but polite ways because after all, I am still a people-pleaser). It’s still super difficult and admittedly my knee-jerk reaction is to say yes and miserably do things for other people, but I’m working on it.

    It’s also interesting to note the gender inequality in this one. Women tend to have much more trouble saying no then men do. I remember reading it was something to do with women (generally) being more empathetic, but it’d be interesting to learn more about why we have so much more trouble with such a simple answer.

    • Thank you! I think we’re all working on it. It’s definitely not the easiest thing in the world to do.

      And I agree, this problem with saying “no” definitely seems to effect women more than men, but as to the reasons, I have some theories but certainly nothing supported by research or science just mainly my own observations and tendencies.

  5. HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD! Gosh darn in, I’m guilty a charged! Also, I’m one of those jerks that mighhhhhttt bail last minute bc (secretly) I didn’t want to do it all along. What a Witch… I know….

    Thanks for this post! Really needed it!

  6. I’m pretty good at this in real life, but less so at work for some reason. I do think you should be polite about it, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying no if you don’t want to do something or are just too busy. Life is short.

  7. What a perfect post to what I am going through right now! I say no all the time to things that I know will do no good to me anyway. Instead of going through all that awkwardness and regret of doing something that I dont like I just say no and do something else that really matters to me.

    To me YES = YES and NO = NO so it really shits me when people sit on the fence. And like you’ve said, a clear answer allows for better planning. There is nothing I hate more than assuming people’s YESs are really yes only for them to bail in the end and ruin months of planning. I swear that if Im not a reasonable person I would seriously slap them silly. /end rant πŸ™‚

  8. For the longest time I’ve been quite a “yes” guy, but I’d actually go ahead and help friends without bailing at the last minute or anything. But recently, I’ve decided to start saying no to people, ESPECIALLY people who would reject you if they were in your place.

    It’s not exactly the same message as what you’re saying, but here’s my post about saying NO! to crappy friends that make you feel like a filler bunny.
    http://drewpan.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/fair-weather-friends-and-filler-bunnies/

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  10. Shakespeare, right? ‘To thine own self be true.’ Better to say no and make time to recharge so you can continue to be a good, loving friend, than to grow resentful because you’re just spread too thin! Great post.

  11. All the power to the “NO”; however, as you have alighted to, with the simple use of the word “no” comes repercussions. I have been a “no-er” for quite some time, and with each “no” comes another knife in my back.

    “No” I don’t feel like going to the movies tonight because I am tired and want to cuddle in bed with my chihuahuas. – bitch
    “No” I can’t make it to the wedding because I don’t have $1500.00 to spend on a beach wedding. – cheap bitch

    No’s can be hard to get out, but one day my “no” was enlightening. I figured out that I had a true friend, a “best friend,” in my midst. My “NO” was finally understood, well received, and didn’t infringe on our friendship but only helped open up lines of communication and kicked honesty to the forefront of our growing friendship. Friendships like that are hard to find (I find), especially amongst us gals. Great post!

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