I have been a pushover for as long as I can remember, but this last year I have gotten really good at using my new favorite word — NO.
I have always been happy to bite the bullet and go the extra mile for friends, family, or groups I was involved in, but was rarely an advocate for myself. This year I was thrown a lot of curveballs that required me to start putting myself and my personal needs first.
The first turning point was in my social life. I love my friends more than anything in this world, except, of course, my alone time. However, spending night after night at the same bars, seeing the same people and having the same conversations really wasn’t my jam (and honestly pretty draining).
It was difficult turning down plans until it became a burden on my school and work performance. There came a time where I no longer felt bad about putting my future ahead of social obligations and it just started to get easier from that point on. It was then that I started to do the things I preferred (ie. this blog).
The second transition was negotiating. I stopped accepting offers without really considering my needs and settling with what was on the table. I stopped starting my emails with “I don’t mean to be rude…” or “I’m sorry to ask…” and being more direct about what I needed. As a 21-year-old, we are often criticized for being entitled, but it’s imperative to be assertive or people will continue to walk all over you.
Once I came to this conclusion, I set a new standard– when I decided what I wanted, I wouldn’t take no for an answer.
The truth is, people are lazy. There is always a way to get something done and sometimes that requires more work than it should, but it’s worth it. Don’t be coy. Ask, then ask again. Then, if you have to, ask again! I was always afraid of being disrespectful when questioning job details, pricing options, or even simple tasks like getting my hair done. Shit happens, but if you agree to something you don’t want, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE.
In summary, you have to hold your own. You can say yes to everything and be liked, or you can put your needs first and be respected. Quit committing to social obligations and agreeing to terms that you’re not comfortable with.