February here in Houston has been absolutely beautiful so far, and one that I’m so very blessed to witness everyday. As I draw closer and closer to my spring break (read: winter break, part II) and consequently my birthday, I’ve been reflecting on this past year of my life, on the end of my teens, and what this new decade will bring. I don’t know what I feel yet about turning 20…(the taste of the word “twenty” still feels weird in my mouth) but I do know that I’m incredibly grateful for another year of life, and to be delving into a new stage, so to speak.
Lately, I’ve been mulling over the delightfully tricky art of…saying “no.” As I’m fast approaching my 20th birthday, in reflection, I believe that I’ve improved in the way I deliver my “no” to others. I’m beginning to realize that it really is a skill, something that must be practised. And indeed, it’s a skill that I still need to hone. As I looked back on my fall semester this past winter break, I thought of the many times that I found myself in a position where I could easily chuck everything I had previously planned aside, and go with the flow for a spontaneous time spent with friends. But, there comes times when I really should say no, or risk falling dangerously behind in whatever I’d planned for myself that week. And I do say no. But sometimes, I felt like I did it in a very roundabout way, rather than in a way that’s direct, tactful, and kind. I don’t want to step on any feathers, or make anyone feel unwanted if I unfortunately can’t, or shouldn’t (due to time constraints), take part in whatever hangout friends want me to participate in. But conversely, it can actually feel worse to receive a no after multiple back-and-forths between parties, rather than just getting a “no” straight away.
Let me give an example. Once, friends asked if I wanted to join an event they were going to, and I said “maybe”, even though in my head, I knew my answer was a “no.” They tried to convince me to come with them, over and over and over, and at the risk of going against what I knew I didn’t want to do, I finally just said “okay” so that they would stop hounding me. Well, the next day, I realized that no person should be able to make me feel bad about my decisions (unless it’s a bad decision..) unless they are trying to be constructive. Sure, one friend would be disappointed if I didn’t meet up with her; sure, another might complain that I haven’t hung out with them in awhile. But at the end of the day, none of them are forcing me to do anything. So why not come out with a firm “no” in the first place? (Does this make sense to anyone else but me?)
This reminds me of Matthew 5:37 (NLT), which says, “Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will’ or ‘No, I won’t’…” If I’m made to feel uncomfortable with what I choose – even with something as simple as saying no to hanging out with friends for the sake of finishing homework – I now know that as long as I’m fine with what I decide, it’s okay.
There’s a time to say yes, and a time for no. And as I practise it more and more, I’m learning that the time for tact in how I deliver my decisions is at all times.