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The power of ‘NO’

Five things to say no to in your 20s

power of noBy Isabelle Laureta

A lot of words and phrases can be powerful. There’s “I love you,” “goodbye,” “forever,” “trust,” or pretty much any curse word that’s ever invented. But there’s one powerful word that’s probably the most underrated, and it’s only composed of two letters: “no.” Underrated, because people don’t always utilize it, likely because “no” has a negative connotation attached to it. What we don’t realize, though, is that saying “no” on certain situations doesn’t automatically make you a horrible person at all if it means you’re taking better care of yourself, your wallet, and the ones you love. I get that it can be hard to determine which things you should say no to, especially because we’re all young and clueless and because #YOLO, right? But let’s start with these five basic things:


1. Sale promos

Yes, those white shoes look so damn good and—wait, what? It’s on sale?! Good deal, right? But is it really? Don’t you have a pair of white shoes already, only looking slightly different? Just because something is on sale, doesn’t mean you should buy it. You see, these sale promos are designed to trick you into buying things that, 50 percent of the time, you don’t really need. Don’t let them. Sure, it’s okay to splurge, but not if you know you’re going to live on canned goods for the next few months if you do so. I’m not the most financially smart person, but one thing that’s really helped me be more responsible with my money is thinking about my wants vs. my needs, and spend my money accordingly.


2. Things you’re uncomfortable doing

Probably our generation’s number one enemy, aside from sale promos that render us poor, is peer pressure. And it’s understandable, because we’re at the time in our lives when we’re figuring out who we are, and trying out new things is one way to do it. It’s okay to give in once in a while for the sake of having fun, but the moment you feel uncomfortable doing it, say no. Don’t want to take that shot of tequila? Say no. Don’t really feel like puffing a stick of cigarette? Don’t do it. Not in the mood to sleep with someone? Then don’t freaking sleep with someone! Saying no to these things doesn’t make you KJ or a prude; it makes you a person who exercises his/her right to make his/her own decisions.


3. Lowering your standards

“Abot, not pulot,” my friend said when we’re talking about mottos in life. Her point is to reach for the things you really want, and not merely pick up what’s available. A filmmaker I had a chance to talk to during college told us that “Puwede na ’yan” is the worst thing you can say about your work, your job, or even the people you surround yourself with. Stop accepting and doing mediocre crap and say no to lowering your standards when you know you can do so much better. In fact, push yourself to do better. Abutin mo, ’wag mong pulutin.


4. Sacrificing your life for a job

Our Development Journalism professor told us in college that “no story is ever worth your life,” or, in general, no job is ever worth your life, no matter how passionate you are about it. And even though it doesn’t cost you your life, if it’s compromising your time, energy, and wellbeing to do other things you love doing, then maybe it’s time to rethink the load of things you say yes to. Yes, you can still be a good employee and still say no. Choose your battles and don’t let them eat you alive.


5. People who try to control you based on what they think is right

Wear that dress, eat that extra rice, get that haircut, date whomever you’re attracted to. Let nobody tell you what to do with your own body or your life because it is yours to begin with. I have lot of girl friends whose boyfriends don’t allow them to wear certain types of clothing, and my friends’ aren’t happy about it because it’s not a sweet gesture. It’s a major hindrance of my friends’ freedom to wear whatever the h*ll it is they’re comfortable wearing.

Stop validating the mentality of self-righteous people by letting them tell you what’s “right” and what’s good for you. You know who knows what’s right and good for you? Well, your mom maybe, but more importantly, you. Stand up for yourselves and say, “Nope, not today.”