There Are Two Kinds Of People In This World: Those Who Ask For Things, And Those Who Say “No” To Things.
“No” is a word I’ve never had trouble saying, so it frustrates me beyond belief when other people have difficulties with it. I’ve said “no” to bosses, to professors, to friends, to lovers, to ex-lovers, to lover’s ex-lovers, to my parents, to Italian border officials, to sales associates, to landlords, to bank personnel, to clients, to my primary care physicians. I’ve turned down “surprise” shifts, extra work, booty calls, requests to relinquish lots of things (personal freedom, Murano glass artwork, the last Lindt chocolate), unnecessary shots, and even an all-expenses-paid roadtrip out to California and back. Some of them were obviously easier to deny than others (shots, anyone? Anyone actually ACCEPT unneeded immunizations and needle jabs?), but the point being, I somehow managed to turn them all down.
I get that we all like to make other people happy— it’s a natural human desire— but at some point, you’ve got to start putting your own wishes and desires before other people’s, otherwise, all you’ll ever be is an unhappy, overworked, underpaid doormat. If you don’t believe me, ask my mother, one of my old roommates, and some of my co-workers and classmates about this. Your personal happiness, time, and well-being are the most important things you’ve got, so DON’T just keep giving it away. I know this may sound very self-centered and only-child-ish of me, but I swear to god, this is true. If YOU are not happy, not content, and not doing what you want, how in hell do you expect to be responsible for taking care of making OTHER people happy and content? As an ex-nanny, I can tell you— unhappiness is like fear; other people can sniff it out. And if someone knows that you’re not happy— if they’re a true friend of yours, and they really care about you, mind, body, and soul— it will be impossible for them to be happy, no matter what you say you can do for them.
Say it with me, now: “I’m sorry, I can’t; but I trust that you’ll be able to figure something else out.”
It’s that easy— polite, firm, genuine, and true to yourself.