It is OK to Say No

I Wish I Knew is a series of personal essays written by the courageous young UChic Campus Ambassadors. Learn how to survive and thrive during your freshman year from girls who have been through it.

This week we are featuring UChic blogger and ambassador Rebecca Klar. Klar is a student at the Binghamton University.

It’s natural to want to please others, especially when you’re trying to make new friends, and it’s not a bad thing to be a helpful, happy-go-lucky person. You have to remember, though, to put yourself first and not let others take advantage of you. You also have to remember to not be too hard on yourself.

Coming into my freshman year of college I did not know what to expect. I was excited and nervous. I wanted a fresh start, but didn’t want to change who I was. It was a strange mixture of feelings inside me that I didn’t know how to deal with. I also had a yes problem.

I felt like I had to say “yes”to everything. If I already ate at 12 and someone texted and asked if I wanted to meet at the dining hall at 1, I had to say yes. Obviously they would hate me if I said no, right? Or if I was excited to just stay in and relax after doing my work all week and a friend asked me to go with her that night, clearly I had to say yes. There was just no other option.

This “yes”obsession even extended into my schoolwork and extracurricular involvement. Like many eager freshman I overextended myself. I succumbed to my Type A anxiety that I needed to be involved in everything in order to be successful. Which isn’t entirely wrong, being involved is a good thing. And I enjoy being busy. However, when I was trying to balance eighteen credits, an internship, pledging a sorority, and writing bi-monthly for the newspaper I was suddenly overwhelmed by how much I had put on my plate for the year.

But still, even when I was overwhelmed, I felt that everyone would be mad at me if I just said no. And none of my friends, family members, or professors had ever placed this stress on me. It was all me.

I distinctly remember one day over the summer after my freshman year when my dad explained to me that I have to remember to put myself first. Although this concept seems rather simple, it was completely foreign to me. He explained to me though that there was and is a difference between being selfish and recognizing that you need to keep your own health and happiness as a priority. You are never going to please everyone, and in trying to do so you’re only going to hurt yourself.

I’m now just as busy as I was last year, if not even more so, but I have learned how to balance everything. Balancing your life in college, and beyond, is not just about time management. It’s about organizing your priorities and recognizing that if you do not accept each and every opportunity it is not a sign of weakness or failure. You can tell your friend that you can’t hang out with them sometimes. You are more important than your social calendar. You can tell your newspaper editor that your story will be late. After you do say no, remember to tell yourself that it’s okay.

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