For those of you who are regulars here at MCL, you might have noticed that I disappeared for a while.  I, like CJ, seem to have over-committed myself this term.  It was a combination of unexpected honors, an interest in too many things, and my biggest fallacy:  an inability to say no.

Yes, I know.  It is a very simple word, Rachel.  Two letters.  One syllable.  It is one of the ten words that children generally learn first.  This is something you should be able to say, Rachel.  Say it with me.  No.  No.  No.

And that’s all very well and good…in theory.  And then someone comes up to me with this really nice smile on their face, making their eyes all puppy-dog the way everyone inevitably does when they want to ask someone something.  I prepare myself.  It’s simple, I think.  Just tell them no.  It’s okay.  They’ll understand if you tell them it doesn’t fit in your schedule.

“Will you help make posters for next week’s event?”

“Yes.”

“Would you maybe proofread my paper for me?”

“Sure, no problem.”

“Do you want to take on this responsibility for the group?”

“Sounds like fun!”

“Would you like to join this committee?”

“Absolutely!”

Unfortunately, none of those words are no.  They are the truth.  I really don’t have a problem proofreading people’s papers; if anything, my inner grammar nerd adores the opportunity.  I love taking on new challenges for my extracurricular activities and I am excited about every committee I join.

The truth, however, is not helpful when I have five meetings in one day with a paper due at midnight that’s not quite finished yet because I accidentally fell asleep while correcting the final draft the night before.

Andrew Stairs, a fellow recovering yes-a-holic, often just looks at me and says, “Say no.  Say it now.”  I don’t.  My roommate tells me that I should talk out any major time consuming decisions with her or someone else to see if I can really commit to something.  I forget.  My friends just look at me and yell, “NO!” when I talk about another opportunity.  I conveniently ignore them.

I love being over-busy.  I love the adrenaline of finishing things and doing things and being with committed groups of people.  But there comes a time in every person’s life that they just have to learn to say no.

So today, when someone asked me if I wanted to join the committee for an event that I unfortunately really did not have time to plan, I squared my shoulders, steeled my courage, and said, “Sorry, but I don’t have time.”

The world didn’t explode.

Danville wasn’t destroyed by a meteor.

She didn’t even get mad at me.  She just nodded and told me it was fine, she understood.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s something to this “no” thing.

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