For as long as I can remember, I have been afraid of the word ‘no.’ It may sound foolish, but the mere idea of saying no to something I don’t want to do brings a great deal of anxiety into my life. I’ve always perceived the two letter word as rude and callous; however, as I've grown I've prioritized my own autonomy and desires which has since prompted me to ask myself: why can’t I say no? I’m sure it stems from some early childhood interaction where I was socialized and taught that in order to be polite, you often have to do things you don’t want to do, and in doing so, forcefully and purposefully make yourself uncomfortable. I turned 20 this year and really etched into my brain that I wanted to unlearn this trait along with a few other things that have contributed to an obscene, monstrous amount of anxiety that I face in my day-to-day life.
I’ve always been someone that prefers their own company and I've always liked that about myself. So, often enough, my version of an ideal day involves alone time in some way or another. And I find myself sacrificing that basic desire and need of mine to do things I often would rather not do. I’m not saying I want to shut myself in and avoid friends because that is far from the case. I’ve just been reflecting on how I cannot say no to someone when I genuinely do not want to participate in any sort of activity, event, or hangout.
I’ve never been a confrontational person as I truly cherish every relationship I have and consider myself to be an extremely understanding and empathetic person. Living my life this way has never required much confrontation because on bad days and in bad moments I internalize my feelings. Lately, I’ve been struggling with a friendship I have. Instead of vocalizing my feelings, I've stayed quiet out of fear of upsetting someone I truly care about. In its own way, that is a form of my ‘no’ fear;it’s saying no to vocalizing my own feelings. Instead of prioritizing myself, I find myself playing the perfect role in other peoples’ lives while being uncomfortable with the role I play in my own.
This week I’ve been silently reminiscing and mourning the loss of my grandma who passed away four years ago. She was a strong, courteous woman who always inspired me to live my life with grace. Her passing away was rough on me because I relied on her for a lot more than I realized prior. She resembled a parental figure to me and I think I respected her more than anyone. She was honest and she would want me to say ‘no’ too. She was like no other and I want to embrace her energy this year and allow myself to be vulnerable and communicate my feelings.
So, where’s the resolution to this problem? Well, I'm trying to figure that out. Recognizing this is a problem is already a lot of progress from where I was as a teenager. I feel like I owe my time to others and the world around me when that is not the case. Instead I've realized that I owe it to myself to say ‘no.’ So this is my vow to be more courteous to my feelings, to voice them, and to stay home on days I want to because ‘no’ does not mean I’m not polite.