In a world where you’re encouraged to say yes to most things, to keep an open mind, to carpe those diems, it gets harder to know what you really want.
You hear so much noise around you, people telling you what they think you should do, what they would do if they were you, and you see so many call-to-actions on billboards, ads, the internet. Buy this, wear that, go here, try these.
Sure, they mean well. And of course you should be open to experiences. But I think it’s also part of growing up to choose what kind of adventures you embark on, which people’s opinions you should really consider, and ultimately what kind of life you want to live.
And that means learning to say no. To have a life of yeses, you need to learn what to say no to. It’s not ungrateful, it’s being smart and self-aware.
It’s saying no to frivolous parties where you must pretend to be something you’re not the whole time. Or even half the time. Instead of, say, catching up with a handful of good friends in a coffee shop, talking about life freely, sans judgment, sans pretensions, sans the fear of being less than what they expected.
It’s saying no to second dates that you know aren’t going to go anywhere because you’re much happier in your own company, waiting, but not really, for the right person to come along. It’s walking away from toxic relationships and people who waste your time with empty promises and plans that never seem to get any closer.
It’s saying no to job offers that have nothing to do with your life goals, with your career path, or passions, because they aren’t the stepping stones to get you where you want to be. Someone somewhere is probably more deserving of the jobs you don’t want. It’s okay to pass them up.
It’s saying no thanks to another piece of bread or slice of pizza just to be polite because you’re really full saving room for a drink or dessert, or maybe you’re watching your weight.
It’s declining work load you can’t carry because you know the quality of your work will suffer and you won’t be able to deliver what you promised.
It’s saying no to some nights out, if it means you get to give your undivided attention to loved ones at home.
It’s saying no to experiences that ultimately won’t add value to your life or even take from it. Don’t be afraid to miss out. FOMO is relative, people.
The more you learn to weigh out which things are really important to you, the more you learn to say no to the ones who fall to the sides of your priority list, the more you can give your ‘yes’ to quality experiences.
And really, that’s what you want.
So, learn to say no. And the life you want will build itself.