Definition: The power or freedom to choose.
Sometimes I struggle with saying “no.”
Recently, I was invited to travel to a nearby city to visit some friends, who were all excited about buying tickets to a brewing festival. Tickets were $40 and allowed you access to the festival, including sampling brews, listening to outdoor music, and and purchasing festival items.
Though I was excited to travel to see my friends, the festival did not exactly sound like my cup of tea - I don’t particularly like being in crowds of people, and I certainly did not want to pay $40 to stand around and do nothing.
So I said I would love to come visit, but I would not be attending the festival.
The option to say no is almost always present, but for many folks, the desire to please our friends or appear easy-going overwhelms any initial reservations we may have.
If a group of people asks you to see a movie that you just don’t feel like seeing, many of us would rather go with the crowd than appear to be a party-pooper. Even young children will do something they normally wouldn’t because a friend dared them to.
When we were teenagers, adults called this “peer pressure,” but for some reason, when we grow older, this term falls out of favor. Instead, we’re told to “Let loose, live a little!” or “Come on, what’s the big deal?” Suddenly, hanging out with friends can become a strange (and often unpleasant) power struggle, and sometimes we’re left not sure of what is the right answer.
The important thing to remember is that your first obligation is to yourself. If a friend tries to pressure you into going to an event that you have no desire for, the right to refuse is well within your reach. You just have to find it in yourself to say, “You know what? I don’t mean to disappoint you, but I’m just not interested.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should sell yourself short - you should certainly give yourself the chance to try new things and branch out. But if your heart tells you “no,” don’t be afraid to speak up.
So though I will be traveling to see my friends in a few weeks, I also know that I will have a block of time one afternoon to enjoy some solo time doing what I enjoy - visiting a favorite local restaurant and do some shopping - while they attend the festival.
In the end, this forms a great compromise - and we all win!