Who Else Finds It Hard To Say ‘No’?

Naaila Khan

To begin with, let's establish that I am a strong, self-loving independent young lady of twenty-and-five, but there are some things I’d change about myself without batting an eyelid, if given the chance: the lack of self-motivation to drag myself to the gym regularly; my worrying tendency to overshare, and serial procrastination.

But hold up.

The one thing I'd like to change most about myself? My inability to say no. 

I don’t know what it is about the word – the fact that it's a negative or that it manages to sound plain rude whichever way you put it. ("No, I'd rather not." Rude.) But I just can’t seem to get myself to utter it.

Case in point: my neighbour’s 13-year old kid who seems to need my assistance on every. Single. School project. Now, I’m no tuition teacher – just someone who did well at English at school, which kicked off an easy way to keep busy (and earn some bucks) while fresh out of college and unemployed.

But here's the thing - it's now been two years, and I now work three satisfying jobs, and so all I would like for is a few hours of solitude to myself without six missed calls from the high strung, type A mother of a 13-year old, calling me to help edit a History project (it went from English to History and Geography and a bucket load of unspoken nos real fast).

I don’t even want the money that she hands over to me out of goodwill after I’ve spent my good hours making a Pages presentation (the success bar’s been raised for kids and their parents these days). I just want to be attending a friend’s birthday party and not have to think about alignment. Or latitudes and longitudes. Or the Renaissance.

I know what you're thinking. Two years is a long time to continue doing something I don't want to. But that’s the thing, see? I can’t bring myself to say no.

“Will you just take a look at the mail I’ve sent you before I send it off to his teacher?” How about no, I’m in the middle of work. “Sure, Aunty, no problem.”

“Could you write a 750-word answer on Bramante’s Tempietto?” No, I cannot, because I’ve never heard of the guy and I’d rather go to gym instead like I’d planned. “Yes Aunty, I’ll send it across ASAP.”

“Can you come over and explain the first act of Julius Caesar?” Absolutely not. “Absolutely, Aunty.”

Hey, I’m a sucker for the Bard any day of the week, but not with three tight deadlines. And sure, I’ve seen the kid next door grow up and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel proud like a mother hen every time he tops the class (and a wee bit bit smarter myself after completing his projects) but do I have to do it? Nope.

Apparently, I’m not the only one fighting this good fight. Judging by Kanye’s new leaked track ‘Saint Pablo’ from his next album Turbo Grafx 16, looks like Mr. West has problems himself.

My wife said, I can't say no to nobody
And at this rate we gon' both die broke
Got friends that ask me for money knowin' I'm in debt
And like my wife said, I still didn't say no.

And if Kanye says it's a problem, it's a problem. 

But no more. I’m not letting my ruling planets (an otherwise dynamic Aquarian-Piscean cusp) or my general inability to voice an emphatic ‘no’, dictate my life. I don’t want a bubble tea with chia seeds when I specifically ordered tapioca pearls and I will not take a size 16 just because the sales guy is too busy to look for a size 14. I will politely refuse to do your homework because it’s yours for a reason. 

I will say 'no' the next time Aunty calls. 

And that’s probably why, apart from the catchy ring it's got, Meghan Trainor’s latest single ‘No’ (written after a disagreement with her record label) is my personal little anthem:

My name is no, my sign is no, my number is no. You need to let it go. 

Because Kanye and I are not having any of it anymore.


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