Oh the lost art of saying "no."
Us girls seem to intensely struggle to twist our fine lips around this super simple, easy-to-annunciate, one-syllable word.
When we do take the plunge and say "no," we often feel so racked with overpowering sweeps of guilt that we feel the need to instantly follow "no" with pearls of delicate, pretty little excuses:
"No, I CAN'T. I'm so, so, so sorry. I already have plans."
"No, I'm terribly afraid I'm not feeling well."
"No, I would have loved to, but I have to work really early in the morning."
We soften the blow with a laundry list of reasons as to why we dared to allow a "no" slip out of our pillowy girl lips.
Whether it's sex, a second date, a kiss, a party we sorely don't want to attend, an unwanted touch from a stranger's hands, a job or a prior commitment we never cared for, a strong simple "NO" is hardly our default answer.
I've watched the strongest girls in the universe battle against the steel-caved walls of "no." I've watched wise, wise women whom I fiercely admire with all of my being falter to merely utter this little two-letter word.
I'm not different. I have notoriously gone to combat against the throes of "no" and have hopelessly lost the fight time and time again.
So what's it all about? Why are we so terrified, so quick to stop ourselves from speaking such a short, scant, simplistic word?
Recently, I decided I was going to start saying no as much as possible. I can quickly resign to being a people-pleasing entity who gets buzzed off the quick fix of superficial validation and have had long bouts in which I've avoided the word "no" like the plague.
It was 3 am on a Wednesday night when I firmly decided to quit resorting to a default "yes" all the f*cking time.
I was at a terrible party in a crowded bar and was hating life with an ever-pressing intensity. I was a ball of teeming resentment and excessive negative thoughts clad in an uncomfortable mini dress and painful heels.
I had to work early the following morning. I was in an introverted mood. I was coming off a long and laborious day.
I just wanted to be at home tucked under the soft sheets of my own bed, blissfully sifting through a dream-adorned sleep.
But here I was, deep in Brooklyn, miles and miles from home, clutching a $14 cocktail, stewing in my self-created discontent and misery.
Once again, I had committed to doing something I direly didn't want to do all because I'm stuck in the habit of the perpetual girl "yes."
And in that fine moment as I stared into the smoky 3-am New York City sky, I made a choice: I was done with the business of the unauthentic "yes."
F*ck the people pleasing. F*ck the idea that nice girls always say yes. F*ck putting every single person on the fine planet before I put myself.
SO I did it. I took a scandalous dip in the forbidden "no" pond. And I haven't left.
And you know what? It feels good in here. I'm not ever going back to saying “yes” to sh*t I abhor.
I've learned a plethora of lessons since I've mastered this fine art of saying no.
I've learned that "no" is the most powerful, underrated word in the human dictionary. I've learned that us girls are not obligated to forever resign ourselves to a life of endless "yes."
I've learned that I don't owe anyone a reason for my "no." I've learned that saying no is deeply empowering and acutely life affirming.
"No" puts you in control of your life
When you say no to something, you're affirming that you're steering the ship of your own life. That you are the master of your mother f*cking destiny. That you are the driving force of your life.
You are in total and utter control when you say no. You're not allowing anyone else to take over and dictate the direction that your life is going to go.
It's your life, and you're the master of your destiny.
"No" helps you learn what your limitations are
You have limitations that are exclusively your own.
Maybe you're not comfortable having sex in the first few months of dating someone new. Maybe you don't want to go on that date with the person who is undeniably cute, but your gut holds court to red flags. Maybe you don't feel like taking that shot is the best idea for you.
When you say no, you learn what exactly your limitations are. When you fall into the robotic consistent habit of saying yes, it disconnects you from your moral compass.
Your idea of what is inherently right and wrong becomes murky and muddled in your brain because you're more concerned with appeasing others over yourself.
"No" shows others what your limitations are
When you say "no," not only are you affirming your own boundaries, but you're letting the outer world know that you have set boundaries that can't be bent.
When people know you're a girl who is unafraid to say no, they stop pressuring you to do sh*t you don't want to do. You have set definitive limitations, and people will stop feeling pressed to challenge them.
"No" is taking a stand for yourself
When a girl says no, she is taking a stand for what she believes in.
When you stop fearing no and instead embrace it, you are no longer just going with the flow -- you're taking a stand for your own individual beliefs, wants and desires.
You're affirming your identity; you're not just lifelessly going with the tide.
"No" makes you strong
You will feel so much stronger when you begin to say no to sh*t that you f*cking hate.
When you start to say no without apology, you are declaring your inherent respect for yourself. You are declaring that you come first.
You will prove to yourself that you are tough and that you don't need to succumb to the shackles of pressure bestowed on you from others.
You are so much stronger when you lean on your own gut.
"No" is a habit
Much like "yes," "no" becomes a simple habit. Except saying no is a healthy happy that keeps you safe and strong.
You will find yourself ever so suddenly becoming addicted to declaring your independence. The empowering feeling of twisting your lips around this simple word provides you with a rush of self-esteem.
"No" gives you time to say yes to the right things
When you say yes to everything and anything, it's hard to ever be present. It's impossible to live in the glorious moment.
Your life becomes consumed by the tethers of obligations. When you learn to say no, you finally have the time to say yes to the things that are truly worth your while.
Like taking a moment for yourself during a harrowing workweek. Like actually catching up with your best girlfriend and spending real, quality, engaged time with her. Like taking the time to tend to yourself and decompress when your heart is broken.
Learning how to say no makes you an authentically happier, less anxiety-ridden human being. Because your world becomes dictated by you.
Only you. No one f*cking else.
Always stand firm in your "no." Your "no" doesn't have to come peppered with excuses.
As the great American author Augusten Burroughs says: "You are allowed to be alive. You are allowed to be somebody different. You are allowed to not say goodbye to anybody or explain a single thing to anyone, ever."