Why It's More Than Okay To Say "No" Sometimes

It's said we live a in "free world" where we have the power to make our own decisions, free from dictatorship and outside influences. And yes, to a certain extent that's completely true. We're lucky to live in a society where (for the most part) each person leads their own life and can make their own destiny. Women are no longer expected to stay in the family home rearing the kids; black people aren't treated like second-class citizens; homophobia is slowly but surely fading from our streets. But in the midst of all of those changes, there's one thing that's still shrouded in pressure and judgement; the art of saying "no".

For absolutely no valid reason, we all feel a tinge of guilt every time we say no to someone or something. Whether it's deciding to stay in rather than going out, or not letting someone borrow your house key for the day, we automatically feel we owe them an explanation for our "no" answer.


"No, I can't go out tonight, I have so much work to catch up on. I'll definitely go next time, though."

"I'm really sorry but I just don't have time to meet up this week. Maybe next week?"

"I'd love to but *insert pointless excuse here*."



Why can't we ever respond to a question with the one word? Why can't we just say "no" and leave it at that? Why are we always looking for a way to justify our decision, even if in our own minds it needs no justification whatsoever? Society, that's why.

I don't know who ever decided to make saying no the biggest sin of the century, but they've done a serious disservice to thousands of people's lives across the globe. Speaking from my own experience, I can recall countless times I've said yes purely because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I've said yes to nights out when I knew I needed to finish an assignment due the next day; I've said yes to working an extra shift at the weekend when I was supposed to go to a family dinner that afternoon; I've even said yes to butter on my sandwich in O'Brien's when I've hated butter for fucking years.


Thankfully, I decided a while ago to grow some thick-ass balls and stop giving in to everyone else. I knew I wasn't happy with all the decisions I was making, even just the small ones, so I stopped trying to please everyone else and started saying yes to only the things that truly made me happy. If my housemates were ordering Chinese and I didn't want any, I said no. If my group project members tried to get me to do the shittiest part of the assignment, I said no. If my nan was trying to shove apple pie and custard down my throat when I already told her I wasn't hungry, I said okay because you never say no to your nan when she's offering you food. It's like awakening a demon.

It's about time we realised that we don't owe the world an explanation or an excuse every time we say no to something. You don't have to set another date to meet your estranged bff straight away just because this week doesn't suit. Saying no doesn't always have to be followed by an alternative. It's only when we start saying no to things we don't want that we truly appreciate and enjoy the things we say yes to.


So, next time you're in a situation where someone wants something from you, don't feel pressured to say yes automatically. In the same way that it's okay to say no, it's also equally as okay to tell them you need time to think about it. And if they turn around with something snappy like "Well, that's definitely a no" then maybe it fucking should be. Impatient hoes.

Olivia Dawson
Article written by
Olivia is a Journalism and New Media student at the University of Limerick. As well as writing for College Times, she is also a contributor with and After college Olivia hopes to write feature articles and/or opinion pieces for a New York magazine, from a penthouse suite in Manhattan, earning a six-figure annual salary. She's also known for being slightly over-ambitious.

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