How Saying No Allows You to Say Yes


At first, I decided to play it safe and keep my distance from anything remotely overwhelming. When I saw crowds of people tabling by the Bell Tower, I would turn the other way. If my friends asked me to go out after class or have lunch, I’d make an excuse as to why I couldn’t for fear of it getting awkward. And especially for jobs, I felt I wasn’t anywhere near ready for those responsibilities.


Somewhere near the halfpoint of the school year, I tried to make a full 180 and say “yes” to everything. I joined Her Campus and a spoken word club, became a photographer, videographer, and editor for the Honors Media Team, performed one of my own poems for the first time, and started going out with my friends more often.

(Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels)


With these two distinct experiences that I went through, I learned a lot. Clearly, the second option of saying “yes” to everything sounds a lot better. However, recently I’ve heard so many people talk about how they’ve spread themselves too thin and don’t know how to stop. I realized this is how I felt as well. Don’t get me wrong, saying “yes” is great, but there comes a time when you need to learn how to say “no” and mean it.


Having a busy schedule with lots of things to do can make you feel excited at first, like you’re doing something right by burning yourself out. But, over time you may start to realize that some of your commitments are not as interesting, or beneficial, or fun anymore. This is where your choice comes in. With every decision, the most important factor is you. If you no longer want to be a part of a club or position or even friend group, find a way to nicely extract yourself from the situation. It may seem scary at first, or leave you feeling guilty, but those feelings are temporary and will be gone once you realize you have time to breathe and focus on yourself. It’s okay to do that.


(Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash)


Saying “no” to opportunities (if and when you have the privilege to do so) is not mean or dumb, it is allowing you to center in more on what you truly want to spend time doing. There are only 24 hours in a day, you don’t want to spend these hours doing something just because others tell you to or because you’d feel guilty not doing it. Have goals for yourself and work towards them. Say “no” to anything that doesn’t fit, and that will allow you to say “yes” to more things that do. Live your life for you.


Try not to get stuck with having tunnel vision, leave some room for new opportunities and goals to arise. You never know when something more exciting or helpful will pop up, and you should always allow yourself to try new things instead of being stuck in one place. Saying “no” to everything and saying “yes” to everything are both detrimental. The power is all in finding a balance between “yes” and “no.”


Don’t be afraid to put your desires first because, in the end, college is all about you. It is about finding yourself, building yourself, and most of all, trusting yourself.