Title reference: After watching Yes Man in 2008 I should’ve know it was a bad way to live.
Featured Image: One of my rats Beans, who clearly knows how to say no. (Kidding he’s just yawning but I do respect their boundaries)
I have almost always said yes to everything. I don’t know where I learned this, or how I got to the point of being physically inable to say no, but it’s gone on for as long as I can remember.
When I was a teenager, I said yes the first time someone offered me weed. I think I even said yes the first time someone offered me a cigarette. I always said yes, from things as innocuous as letting someone copy my homework, to sneaking out at night to drink at some random person’s house.*
I never really say yes, though, I usually say “sure”. I just don’t think I ever care enough to give a strong answer one way or the other. Granted, I don’t think I would jump off a bridge if I was asked to, but I’d probably think about it depending on who asked.
As I’ve gotten older, I thought I would start saying no. But I still keep saying yes; Just in this past year, I have tried so many new things and have enjoyed them all. I just convince myself that if I don’t like it, I can just go home (or stop, or leave, or whatever it may be). You can almost always remove yourself from something after you’ve started, it’s seldom a permanent move. Invite me to a party of people I don’t really know? Sure, I guess, I’ll just leave if I don’t like it.
It doesn’t help that I get really bad FOMO. I always tell myself “you’ll regret saying no” and lately I’ve been right; I am glad I’ve been saying yes (well, “sure”).
It’s an interesting way to live; Always saying yes gives me the illusion of choice while in reality, my inability to say no is choosing for me. And yeah, lately the things I’ve been saying “sure” to have worked out in my favor, but there’s always risk in that.
It’s hard to say no because people rarely let you, at least at first. You have to have a good excuse on deck, and that excuse might be questioned. People will push and push that excuse — call you a pussy or prude or no fun or rude.** And, of course, there’s the part of you that doesn’t want to let people down.
But the more you say yes, the harder it is to say no. You either become a doormat, where people expect you to always say yes, and may even stop asking in the first place because of that, or you suddenly saying no makes people question you even more, especially if you’ve said yes to the same thing before.
While saying yes can lead you to new and exciting things, it can also lead you into things you never needed to be a part of. You have to have boundaries. You have to weigh what is truly in it for you. Even when it’s saying yes to completely safe things, but you might just get home late and be tired at work tomorrow. Weigh that into your decision. Your time matters, your safety matters, your mental health matters, even your bank account matters.
We don’t live long enough to waste our time doing things we never wanted to do. We also don’t live long enough to waste our time doing nothing but laying in bed watching TikToks. But there’s a balance to be found.
Bonus Content and Footnotes:
* I did say no the first time someone offered something sexual, but that was ignored and I didn’t really say it again for a long time. Which, as you can imagine, was a terrible precedent.
** If people are pushing you every time you say no, get better friends.