My Journey of Learning to Say “No” More Often

I’ve always had a hard time saying no to people. Whether it’s to my boss at work or it’s to my friend when they ask me to do something with them, saying no doesn’t come easy to me. I end up taking on too many projects, leaving me with barely any time for myself.

I don’t know why I do this to myself, but it kills me. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to disappoint anyone, or maybe it’s because I like keeping myself occupied. Whatever the reason, I needed it to stop. I knew I had to start putting myself before everyone else for once, no matter how selfish it may seem.

I’m thinking of it as like a New Year’s Resolution that I started a little late. (Unfortunately, I had a hard time sticking to my original resolution this year.) I decided to document my progress of learning to say no, including all the challenges I faced, in hopes that I can inspire others to do the same.

Here’s a snapshot of a few experiences I had one week:


Just a few days after I made the decision, I was asked to work an extra shift on Monday. Although technically I could’ve picked up the shift, it would have given me an extremely long day since I already work at my internship on Mondays. I was actually able to say no, and I’m really proud of myself for that.



I was a part of a semester-long group project in one of my classes in the Fall semester. We worked with a non-profit to create a marketing campaign. They loved our project so much that my group was invited to a dinner to present our work. I thought it was a really great opportunity, but my free time was very limited. I decided that I would only go if the rest of my group went. Luckily for me, none of my group members were able to attend the dinner. It made it pretty easy to be able to send the email saying I could not go. Success number two.



I’m trying to earn an award from an honor society on campus. On Wednesday after my internship, I was supposed to attend a meeting to get to the next step. However, I didn’t see my boyfriend in almost a week and I was feeling really stressed out, so I decided to skip the meeting and relax with him instead. Saying I couldn’t the meeting seemed like a good idea at first, but now two weeks later, that guy broke up with me. I guess I would’ve been better off at the meeting. Still learning.



I was at work until 11:45 p.m. on Thursday night, and I already knew I would be there late on Saturday and Sunday, too. A manager came up to me and asked if I could cover someone’s shift the next day from 3 p.m. until closing. I made the mistake of saying I can’t because I had class until 5 p.m. on Fridays. I said too much, and my manager said she will put me on after class. Needless to say, I was drained after working retail Thursday-Sunday while having to do homework, too. It was a huge mistake, but hopefully I’ll continue to learn from it.



I had so many things to get done and I signed myself up for four full days of work this weekend. I knew it would be impossible for me to finish everything on time. This is when the panic attacks kicked in. I told my job I needed to leave a few hours early. Thank god I did that. I needed some time to breathe and think.

This is just a week’s worth of examples of me trying to learn day by day. I’m going to continue saying “no” to things I can’t commit to in order to better myself. Take control of your life again, and remember that you need to take care of yourself first!

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