No. That’s all it takes, and yet it seems like such a burden to say out loud. Why is it so easy to feel guilty when you say no? Why is saying no not normalized enough?
There are many reasons to avoid saying no. Feeling the pressure to say yes, a situation I find myself trapped in, or FOMO (fear of missing out). Another reason could be for your own safety, as too often women are attacked for simply rejecting a man. A woman saying ‘no’ or ‘I’m not interested’ is not respected and instead translates into a negotiation. Unfortunately, rejecting a man doesn’t always end well.
We’re pushed with the idea that saying yes is the best way forward in life. Sometimes saying yes to a last minute plan can turn out to be one of the best moments of your life. Saying yes could lead you to opportunities that improve your life for the better. Yes Man, a comedy starring Jim Carrey, is a great example of the endless possibilities that can happen when you start saying yes to everything. But not every opportunity that you say yes to will lead to a great outcome. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone, but it’s more important to listen to what you want and not what is expected of you.
In the media, female celebrities are pestered with sexist questions or questions that only revolve around who they’re dating. These are questions they are expected to answer. They are questions that make them feel that as an individual they’re not enough, and only when a man is involved is there value to their lives. If they refuse to answer these unnecessary questions, it would be seen as being ‘difficult’ or a ‘diva.’ Celebrities such as Ariana Grande, Rihanna and Taylor Swift have often dealt with such questions with both poise and fearlessness.
They were like talk to me about boys. And I was like no. [Why] Because I’m not Big Sean’s ex. I’m not Niall’s possible new girl. I’m Ariana Grande, and if that’s not interesting enough don’t talk to me.Ariana Grande
It’s okay to say no
Is there an easy way of saying no? No…not really. But once you understand why you’re saying no it helps remove a lot of the guilt. In fact it’s normal to feel bad when you say no. It’s okay to say no if you would rather stay at home and do nothing than go out and socialize. Not every single second of your life needs to be spent productively; sometimes it’s okay to just relax and do nothing. It’s okay to say no even after you have said yes, and it’s much more important to be honest with yourself and what you want.
It’s possible that you might disappoint people with your decision and even anger them, but life moves on and they will too. If they don’t respect your decision, then they were not worthy of your time anyways. Though it’s not easy, you just have to rip the band aid off and get it done with.
Similarly, having boundaries is key as we all have our limits. It’s easy to feel socially drained and therefore it’s essential to recharge when necessary. There are many benefits that come from setting boundaries in your life. By setting boundaries for your energy, time, and personal space, you will conserve more energy, improve your self-esteem and be more independent.
For example, taking a day out of the week to treat yourself to self-care will improve your wellbeing significantly. However, this doesn’t mean that the boundaries you’ve set are fixed and can’t be changed. They can be as flexible as you need them to be and this is what will allow us to grow.
Saying no when you want to can be one of the most empowering things you do as a woman. It’s okay to be selfish and put your needs first. So, put yourself first. Mean it when you say no. No means no. No is enough.