Saying No Doesn't Make You a Bad Person


I'm going to be honest: this photo has nothing to do with the subject except for the fact it's pretty, and I've never knowingly said no to coffee. 

A friend tagged me in something on Facebook last night that really made me stop and pause.

Now being tagged in something is not unusual, we are do it to each other all the time - don't we? We're the generation of memes and GIFs and articles, all coming together on one social media platform. We see a photo, maybe we laugh for a bit, and then we go about with our day. But this was different, this cut through to my core and caused me to really ponder where I'm at in my life right now.

The image was the one you see here: "You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no". 

I am rubbish at saying no. Utterly rubbish at it. I like helping people, almost compulsively so, and thus I go about my day to day life saying yes to many things thrown my way. Can we chat about my problems? Yes. Can you help me? Yes. Will you do this? Yes.

I love it.

But I am so busy right now. I have multiple projects that I'm figuring out how to hand over when I leave, some of which feel like my babies. These are things I've been doing for years, but I need to work out how to pass them on in a way that ensures their survival once I head back to England for good. I also have a part-time job, play in a competitive league for touch rugby, attend classes, and a senior thesis to write (the last of which is getting neglected far more than I would like to admit). I'm lucky if I get to write one post a week for my beloved blog, and I'm still trying to maintain a social life. Did I mention I'm writing a novel in one of my classes?

Do I complain about being busy too much? I feel like I complain about being busy too much. 

All this to say that there is a finite amount of things I can fit into my time. And yet I still keep saying yes, because it feels good to be helpful, it's the answer that comes most naturally to me. 

But am I really doing myself and other people any favours? I can feel myself becoming less patient with each commitment, because I don't have the luxury of time. It's not how I want to spend my last semester, and I'm the only person with the power to change it.

It's a double edged sword, though, because I like being busy. I love being trusted with work and each opportunity feels to wonderful to turn down. It's my last semester – so shouldn't I seize it with both hands and make the most of it? Well yes, but only to a certain extent. 

I need to start being more realistic about my commitments. I need to accept that I am human, and that saying no doesn't mean that I don't care. Because I'm no good to anyone when I'm running around, stressed out of my mind. I'm not even enjoying what I'm doing, because I'm constantly thinking about what else I have to achieve. 

This isn't the first time I've experienced this, nor will it be the last. But don't make my mistake. Repeat after me: It's okay to say no. Say no to favours and friends and books and boys if that's what you need to do. Say no to what you want, and yes to what you want. If you want to be a good person and you want to have a kind heart, sometimes that just means saying no.