It’s In Your 20s Where You Need To Learn How to Say No

It’s In Your 20s Where You Need To Learn How to Say No

At work and in life, I learned that you need not to always please people. I am in my years where I realized that when your heart is not into it, say “no.” Value yourself, your time, and your goals. And don’t regret. 

“So,” she suddenly says, holding her glass of cold water, “what can you advise?”

This question feels like she has been keeping this on to herself and waited for the right time to spill it.

“Advise what?” I ask her, wrinkling my forehead as if she’s asking an absurd question.

Me and my former colleague are enjoying our weekend in Baler. Part of it was a celebration of her birthday and as a fulfillment of our plan of going out of town after resigning from work.

We are at Charlie Does, a cute cafe we hunted after checking out recommendations online. It’s just a walking distance from where we were checked in at Circle Hostel.

I ordered for pasta and a cup of coffee, something to reward myself after we went straight on a day tour.

She chooses water. I guess this girl’s really not into eating out. But I am. I’m hungry. I need my snack.

We were working for a publishing company. She started straight from college. As months passed by, I discovered this young, talented girl is a go-getter.

She might consider me as her superior or what but I am more like an annoying officemate—sometimes quiet, sometimes loud, but weird most of the time.

“You know,” she finally answers. “For someone like me.”

“You mean a little lost in life?” I asked.

No. Of course, I didn’t tell her that. Haha.

But I know what she’s talking about. I’ve gone through the same shitty quarter-life-crisis.

Five years ago I was the same girl who does not know what to do after realizing that her first job did not work for her. The 21-year-old girl who has big dreams but still hasn’t got all things figured out.

I was asking myself where will I go after this. Will my decisions be ever worth it? What if I end up regretting them?

I want to do many things yet I don’t know where to start. I want to be this. I want to do that. In my mind, I am juggling a lot of tasks and I am good at it. I have lots on my plate. In reality, I am stuck. And I find a lot of excuses to let it pass me by like an idiot.

This can be traced back when I was in college. I was that aggressive, active student journalist. I thought I was in my primes. I was so passionate about campus journalism, even setting aside my academics as a priority. I cut class. I seldom sleep. I give more time to joining student activism. I have had that attitude from that four years and it made me who I am today. It molded me. It shaped me.

But somewhere along my journey outside the walls of my university, I stumbled. I thought I was soaring high that I found myself lost.

“Just do what you want to do,” I finally say, as if I was very sure of myself.

I know. This isn’t a very enlightening statement. I myself have gone through that stage where I was trying to know what I wanted to do.

But even as I am listing down everything, it’s either I get distracted or just another item keeps on adding up not know when and how will I start each of them.

“And stop saying yes to everything,” I added.

That probably made sense, yes.

I looked at her. She seemed to be pondering this one while showing off an unimpressed look. I guessed she’s heard those things before or read it in a self-help book somewhere.

“You need to learn to say no. No to things you are not comfortable with. No to things you do not want.”

Learn how to say no and mean it.

After almost six years of working, there was a time that I had to slow down, re-evaluate myself and get to know what my heart desires. Being in my 20s lets me realized I always end up doing things I am not comfortable with simply because I oblige to other people’s requests. I do this because I thought it is right to just oblige without having to say a word. This is so relatable in the workforce, I must admit.

But no. For me, there are two sides of being a “Yes” person–the good and the bad.

We see a “Yes” person in a positive way when she is a go-getter. She responds to everything optimistically. Meaning, whether it is a challenge, a trial or something that goes by her side, she says “yes” go for it.

If it makes you alive, sure as hell you are on the right path.

But on the other hand, you can’t be the “yes” person all the freakin’ time. You have your goals and you can’t accommodate other people’s constant badgering and requests all the time.

We’ve heard it all. From different people, from different circumstances.

“I want you to do this.”

“I want you to do that.”

“Stop doing things I don’t want you to do.”

Blah blah blah.

When you feel you are doing something which makes you doze off to dreamland and think of your escape plan, then you are probably not in the right place.

Say “No” when your heart is no longer in it.

Saying “No” feels better than saying yes to everything. We are not born to nod. We are born to be inquisitive. To yearn more and learn from it. To meet people who empower you. Choose the right ones you can hang out with, and probably shy away from those which just make your life miserable.

And if one day, amidst the chasing what makes your heart beats, you’ll find yourself in another chapter of breaking down, pause and evaluate. You can always get up, choose your battle, or start anew. Life is filled with phases. But if you are deeply anchored, you can rock it.

I hoped those words somehow lightened her up, though I know I am a boring adviser.

We’ve worked for a year and a half. I must admit we never really bonded except for this random trip to Baler we planned for months. It was fun having her as a company in a new place, sans all things office-related. We toured all day, hopped bars and drank booze and surfed the day after.

We parted ways a day after. I will miss this girl. But knowing her based on how we worked together, she will surely rock it in this roller coaster ride called life. I’m excited to see her shine.


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