We all have moments in our lives where we have to put our foot down and say “no.” Some no’s don’t need to be justified, and that’s okay. If you don’t like onion, you don’t have to cook with onion just because your mom says so. If you don’t feel like going out, you don’t have to just because all of your friends are. The practice of saying “no” is one of many ways to help create your own personal boundaries, which is important when you’re in the process of trying to figure yourself out.
Sometimes, however, saying “no” can be the easier way out of situations that are actually perfect opportunities for tackling fears that block our never-ending path of self-improvement.
Sometimes, the human mind tends to focus on the million ways things can go wrong; it creates a million “what if” scenarios, and a million reasons why it’s better to opt out of a scary, uncomfortable situation than to face it head-on.
It’s easier to decide not to participate in class than to raise your hand and speak up. It’s easier to not sign up for a conference that expects you to present a case study than to sign up and have the possibility of making a fool of yourself. It’s definitely easier to not ask out that cute guy/gal in your class than to go ahead with it and face possible rejection. These are just a few of so many examples that we get hung up on instead of experiencing them and learning from our mistakes.
I’m not saying we should suck it up and just do it. Watching Shia LeBeouf’s motivational speech on a loop might not even help us here (sorry Shia).
The ironic thing is that the more we place ourselves in uncomfortable situations, the more we get used to the feeling of discomfort, and the more space we give ourselves to improve our social/interpersonal skills. The key is to allow ourselves to fail, not just once, but however many times needed to be able to finally present that seminar to our class, to be fully comfortable with ourselves (awkwardness and all), or to finally talk to that one person we’ve been too nervous to talk to.
The next time you’re given an opportunity to face a fear of yours, I challenge you to fight against every fibre of your being that says “no,” and to say “yes.” Heck yeah, it’s going to be terrifying, but once you establish that everyone is merely human and that the people who truly matter in your life won’t judge you for your mistakes (and neither should you), you can embrace discomfort with more excitement than before. As Queen B said, “If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow.”
Or, if Shia does it for you: