Of Mental Breakdowns and Time Management

Well.

It’s that time of year again. The point in the semester where everything feels like it’s building up and preparing to squash you like a bug. And, to be honest, it probably is.

Midterm.

Ugh.

Not only does this mark the point where you actually take your midterms, but it also means that you’re halfway through the semester. Halfway to finals, which can make or break you.

If you’re not careful, this time of year will drown you. It will eat you alive and then spit you back out with stresses that you didn’t even know you had. It’s that point during school where every professor seems to be assigning extra homework, papers, and projects at exactly that same time. Personally, I’m about ready to crawl under a rock and hibernate until Thanksgiving Break.

Realistically, however, that is not exactly an option. So, here are some tricks for surviving the semester without your mind spectacularly exploding.

Tip #1: Breathe.

Before you start any paper or assignment, take a deep breath. If you start to feel overwhelmed or stressed, take a minute to just inhale and exhale until your heart rate goes back to normal and you feel some semblance of calm.

You’re not going to get anything productive done if you spend the entire time worrying and convincing yourself that whatever you come up with won’t be any good. You can do this. You just have to take it one step at a time.

Tip #2: Stay ahead.

Try to make time for your homework the day before it’s due. Finishing things early keeps a load of stress off your back and allows you a little bit of time to relax before class instead of hastily answering those last few questions.

Tip #3: Time Management is crucial.

College isn’t just about keeping up with your assignments. It’s about knowing when you have exams, quizzes, or papers due. It is about being able to plan your time in a way that you have a little bit of breathing room for if a commitment or activity goes longer than you thought it would. When you have everything you need to do laid out in front of you, whether in a calendar, planner, or online scheduling app, it takes a load off your shoulders because you can physically see what you need to do.

This allows you to stay on track much more easily than if you were just trying to remember everything.

Fun fact: Today in Psych, we talked about how the brain can actually only remember 4-7 bits of information at a time.

Tip #4: Take a break.

While it’s important to get everything done in a timely manner, it’s also just as important to give yourself a break when you need it. Don’t be afraid to plan out time for a Netflix episode or an hour of video games. It’s okay to do something completely pointless to get your mind to stop working so hard. Even the smartest of us need a break sometimes.

It doesn’t make you any less intelligent or any less capable because you took a few minutes between Math homework and your English essay to fangirl over the new Gilmore Girls trailer or to go on a short nature walk.

As long as the ratio of productivity to breaks leans more towards the former, it’s okay to take a breather. Your mind works a lot better when it has time to rest.

Tip #5: Get a good night’s sleep.

Yes, you’re in college, the time of adventuring and late nights. But adventures can happen during daylight too. Staying up til 3am seems like a great idea until your alarm goes off for class the following morning. Stay up on the weekends if you really want to, but try to get a decent amount of sleep on school nights. When you are awake and alert, your mind is more likely to retain information that you learn during class.

Bottom Line

College is tough. It will make you want to pull your hair out, especially during these midterm months. But if you stay focused, get enough sleep, and allow yourself some downtime, you should survive fully intact and no longer on the edge of a mental breakdown.

When you feel like crying, look up dumb puns on the internet or YouTube videos of cats. I promise that the semester isn’t as hard as you think it is. You aren’t actually drowning. It just feels like it right now.

You are smart and successful and you can do this. 🙂

To The Girl Who Saved Me

We all have regrets.

Some of them are small. Some of them are large. Some of them are significant. Some of them are not. Some of them we fight to remember. Others we wish we could forget.

Every single one of us has done something that we wish we hadn’t or said something we wish we could unsay. We all have things in our pasts that we wish would just go away.

Personally, I’ve had my fair share of regrets. Unfortunately, I’ve got one regret that stands out above all of the others.

I used to go to a private school. It was very Gossip Girl-esque in a lot of ways, but it wasn’t nearly as snooty. While, yes, there were some snobs, there were also great people. People that would hug you in the hall on the way to class and make you feel like you mattered.

There was a girl named Natalie. She was one of those people that didn’t talk much in public, but would always smile at you when she saw you. She was a sweetheart, to say the least. You could tell she was shy, but she had a big heart and it showed. For the life of me, I cannot remember what brought us together. It was probably a play or a class or something. It was years ago and honestly, that wasn’t what stood out to me. She would always say hi and I would wave back and that’s just how it was.

I remember one day when I was having a rough time. I have no idea why I was upset, but I was. I was sitting outside the middle school on a bench instead of going to the cafeteria for lunch with the rest of the school. I was kind of a nerd, so I spent my lunch period filling out the pages of my science workbooks and reading whatever stack of novels I’d managed to check out from the library that week. That day I was too upset to do any of that. I remember sitting on that stupid bench and crying my eyes out.

And then Natalie sat down next to me. She asked me if I was okay and I shook my head. She didn’t ask what was wrong or what had happened. She just sat next to me and waited. I eventually started talking and she just listened. When I was done with my awkward mixture of crying and rambling, she nodded and said it was going to be okay. And the funny thing was, I believed her. She smiled and said it like it was a fact. It didn’t sound like the empty platitudes that you give people all the time. It sounded real and I knew she meant it.

She had barely known me. I mean, we were friends. We saw each other in the halls. We could have a conversation. We could make small talk. We knew each other. But we didn’t hang out in the same social circles. We were complete opposites in a lot of ways. She didn’t have any obligation to stop and talk to me. And, yet, she did. She stopped and sat down and made sure I was okay. She listened to me vent and she didn’t make me feel stupid about it. That was just the kind of person she was. And she was the kind of person I needed that day.

I think about that day a lot now.

Natalie took her own life on January 27th of 2015.

I had left Augusta Prep about a year after that talk. I started homeschooling and only went back to Augusta Prep once to reconnect with some of my old friends. It was my second semester at college. I remember I was sitting in the game room with Brendan when I saw a post on my Facebook feed. I remember freezing and Brendan asking what was wrong. I remember crying because it couldn’t be true, right? It had to be a joke.

It wasn’t.

I couldn’t tell you how long I stared at her profile, reading all the posts and trying to understand. I’d like to say that I was surprised. I’d really, really, really like to. But, honestly, I can’t. Looking back, I had known she was struggling. I’d even wondered a few times if I should message her and see how she was. Every time she posted something on Facebook, I would get the urge to open up a chat and tell her I liked her hair or let her know that she was beautiful. But I never did. And I will always regret that.

I’ll always wonder if it would have helped. If it would have been that one thing that changed her mind. Logically, I know that’s stupid and selfish. But emotionally, I just feel guilty.

Natalie, you were always nice to me. You were always there to smile and wave. I wasn’t close with you and I wasn’t a big part of your life. But you were still there when I needed someone to talk to.

You don’t know it, but you saved me. In the beginning of 2015, I was having a really hard time. I was struggling and my anxiety was all over the place. I was having suicidal thoughts and my depression was eating me alive. Honestly, I was about to give up.

And then I heard about you. And I saw all of the posts from your friends and family. I saw how people were breaking and I just kept thinking that it could have been me.

You saved me without meaning to. You made me realize how much it would hurt the people around me. You showed me that life is worth living because people are worth caring about. You matter. And you will never know how much I appreciate your small, but significant part in my life. Thank you for the smiles. Thank you for that day.

I hope you’re happy up there in Heaven. If anyone deserves peace, it’s you. I’m sorry that I never sent you that message. I’m sorry that it’s too late now. I hope you can forgive me.

You’re a shooting star, Natalie. You always have been. So shine on.

 

Once Upon A Time…

I like fairy tales. I like them a lot. I’m a total sucker for happily-ever-afters and Prince Charming and glass slippers. And I like to think that everyone is living a fairy tale, whether they know or not.

I mean, think about it. Fairy tales aren’t just about the romance. They’re not just about kissing the right guy at midnight or turning frogs into princes. They’re about finding yourself and getting your happy ending because no one is going to go out and get it for you.

Look at Cinderella. Her life started out pretty horrible. She lost her dad and ended up with a stepmom who couldn’t care less about her. She was basically stuck in a life of abuse and neglect. She was in an absolutely horrible situation, but she refused to have a horrible attitude. She was kind and sweet and caring and never stopped dreaming. Obviously, having a fairy god-mother helped move things along, but Cinderella was the one that decided to go out there and make her dreams come true by attending the ball. She went out and danced her heart away until the clock struck midnight. She fell in love and fought with all of her heart to find her Prince Charming.

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How many of us have lost a family member? How many of us have had that friend that gives us the push we need in the right direction to fight for what we want?

And what about Elsa? One of the most recent Disney movies, taken from a tale by Hans Christian Anderson, Frozen tells the story of the Ice Queen. After gravely injuring her sister  Anna as a child, Elsa takes her powers over ice and hides them under gloves and layers until she becomes Queen after her parents pass away tragically. Though Elsa wraps herself in shields of aloofness and coldness, it is clear that she misses her sister just as much as Anna misses her. She hides herself in her room for years, terrified that she will cause hurt to someone she loves unconditionally.

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How many of us have had something that we are ashamed of that keeps us from relationships or even just friendships? So many people have done things that they regret and feel ashamed of that make them shy away from comfort and people. The fear of the past prevents an astounding number of individuals from moving on to the future.

This happened in the case of Elsa, though she eventually learned to “let it go” and just be herself. We can take the mistakes in our past and turn them into lessons. No one is perfect and we can’t expect to never mess up. The best we can do is apologize to the people we hurt and try to find a way to fix it.

My personal favorite fairy tale is the story of Alice in Wonderland. As most people know, this is not a typical fairy tale by any means. Some may not even call it one. I do, however. I love it because Alice is just a child driven by curiosity and wonder. She isn’t thinking about romance or love. She just sees a rabbit with a waistcoat and a pocket watch and wants to know where it is going. Obviously, she follows the rabbit and falls down the rabbit hole, finding herself in a new and strange world when she lands at the bottom. After experiencing a flood of her own tears, a tea party, and a trial, not to mention her almost execution, Alice is woken up by her sister, revealing that the entire story was a curious dream.

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Whether you look at the story as a dream or not, we can all relate to Alice’s struggles. Her curiosity leads to her to new friends and a new place, but also gets her into trouble when she isn’t careful. We should never stop being curious, but we should always be careful to appreciate what we already have.

Fairy tales are full of morals and lessons, but if you look closely enough, you might find more of yourself than you thought in Ariel, Aladdin, or the Mad Hatter. Our lives are already fairy tales. We just have to treat them as such.

 

How To Be Happy

Happiness is not the easiest thing to obtain. It is also not the easiest thing to hold on to. This makes for a difficult situation.

For me, one of the key factors getting in between me and happiness is other people. I am well aware that I put too much trust, faith, and pixie dust in the people around me. People that honestly don’t have a right to dictate my happiness.

It’s hard to not listen to what people say about you, whether it be behind your back or to your face. When someone calls you ugly or fat or stupid, you tend to listen. There is a quote that says, “Call a girl pretty, and she’ll forget it in an hour. Call a girl ugly, and she’ll remember it for the rest of her life.” When you compliment someone, it will make them smile, but if you insult them, they’ll hold onto that and think back to it whenever they get a compliment in the future.

You should never base your happiness off of someone else’s. Do what makes you happy. One of my biggest pet peeves is when parents try to force their kids to go into fields that they don’t find enjoyable. There is a difference between being concerned that your child will not earn enough money to sustain their lifestyle and making your child feel like their dreams and desires don’t matter.

If you want to be an artist, go for it. If it makes you happy, do it. But be practical when you do. The idea of a “starving artist” is romanticized when it definitely shouldn’t be. Embrace your inner artist and do what makes you smile, but find a way to support yourself at the same time. Whether it’s freelance jobs online or working part-time at a local restaurant, it doesn’t matter. Find a way to support yourself enough that you can become independent and then focus on making it as an artist or a musician or an actor or whatever you aspire to be.

Are you happy? If the answer is yes, then clearly you’re on the right track. If the answer is no, change something. Look for damaging people or stressful situations and remove them from your life. You can’t keep people that hurt you around because you feel guilty or obligated. You are entitled to your own health and happiness. If someone is compromising your goals, you are allowed to drop them. You are allowed to walk away. It does not make you a bad person. It does not make you mean or cruel or wrong in any way. If having someone in your life causes you stress or sadness or anger, why are they still present? Why are they still a part of your life? Clearly, they don’t deserve the privilege of being there. Being in your life is not a right. It is a privilege and you will meet people who don’t deserve it. You shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed because trying to please someone else is making you miserable and compromising your own happiness. You have the right to kick someone out for your own benefit.

There is not a magic formula for being happy. But I have come up with some tips that should aid in the process.

1. Never go to sleep angry. 

Figure out why you’re angry and solve it. If you go to sleep angry, you’ll wake up angrier. Work it out with yourself or someone else and then get a good night’s rest because emotions are exhausting.

2. Enjoy the little things. 

Watch the sunrise or the sunset. Count the stars every once in a while and see if you can pick out constellations, like Orion. Listen to your favorite song a few times. Smile at a friend. Stop to smell the roses.

3. Spend more time outside.

Nature is scientifically proven to improve moods and lessen stress. Find a trail and go hiking with someone you love. Walk through a tiny town. Go on a scavenger hunt to find different types of plants and animals.

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4. Fake it til you make it. 

I’m not saying fake a smile every time you’re upset. You don’t have to pretend to be happy. But, sometimes, the best plan is to put on a grin and act like you’re having the best day in the world. If you act like you’re miserable, chances are, you will be. You might miss out on having really great experiences and laughs by being too lost in your emotions.

5. Exercise. 

Do some push-ups. Go for a walk. Find something fun to do that will get your energy up and make you work. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands; they just don’t.” I think Elle from Legally Blonde definitely had the right idea.

6. Stop worrying. 

I know that I’m guilty of this to the extreme. It’s something a lot of people do and it’s definitely not healthy. We worry so much about things that have no chance of happening. I worry about getting to class late, so I leave thirty minutes early, even though I live four minutes away. I worry about embarrassing myself so much that I keep my mouth shut in public because I’m too scared to talk. Worrying is an epidemic and it’s absolutely horrible. It makes people change their entire personalities and go to ridiculous extremes to avoid situations that may not even happen. Take a deep breath and stop trying to find the bad in everything.

7. Do things that make you happy every day. 

If you love drawing, draw. Even if it’s just a stick figure in the corner of your history notes. If you love singing, sing in the shower. If you love exercise, run around your neighborhood once or twice. If you love animals, YouTube some cute cat videos. It doesn’t have to be something huge that takes hours. Just do something that you genuinely enjoy every day.

8. Keep challenging yourself. 

Always be striving to be better, whether in skill or behavior. Never stop learning new things and perfecting things you already know.

9. Let yourself be happy. 

You deserve to be happy. Even if you’re not perfect. Even if you feel like you’re not worth it. You are and you deserve the world, darling. You are special and beautiful and you are something to be proud of. Smile, because happiness isn’t a privilege. It’s a basic human right. Repeat after me: I deserve to be happy. I deserve to be proud of myself. I deserve to smile.

Happiness isn’t black and white and it isn’t easy. You might not have it right now, but you will before you know it. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to feel like the world is against you. But it’s not. The only thing against you is yourself. Buck up, buttercup, you’ve got the world at your fingertips and you will find happiness.

 

 

That Thing We Call Passion

Everyone has something that they care about. And one thing that I think our society seriously needs to stop doing is putting down other people’s passions.

For example, I do not understand football. I honestly do not particularly enjoy it and, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why it is so entertaining to some people. (It is also possible that for the first fifteen years of my life, I thought the Superbowl was bowling. But that is a completely separate blog post entirely.) Anyways. I don’t like football. However, I know people that absolutely live for each game. I know people that order pizza every Sunday and invite all of their friends over to squeeze into a living room and cheer on their favorite teams. While this practice baffles me, who am I to judge it? It makes them happy.

And call me crazy, but I just don’t think it’s right to tear down something that makes someone else happy and doesn’t cause anyone any harm. Does that guy in your college class liking football ruin your life? No. No, it does not. It doesn’t even affect you. All it does is add a little bit of joy to theirs.

After all, how would you feel if someone did the same thing to you?

Personally, I have a few passions. Music. Cuddling. Disney. Mythology. Etc. But my absolute favorite thing in the world is reading. I have over 1,000 books and that number is continuously getting higher. I adore spending entire Saturdays curled up on my couch with a pile of books. A large pile because I tend to finish books rather quickly. But I digress. I love reading and that is really all there is to it. On the other hand,  some people do not like reading. While this idea is completely foreign to me, I’m not going to sit there and make fun of them for not sharing the same interests as me.

People are different. We have different purposes, values, ideas, opinions, understandings. Not a single one of us is perfect and we have no right to throw away someone else’s passion. We have no reason to make them feel small for caring about something we don’t understand or appreciate.

Some people like music. Some people like art. Some people like museums and historical sites. Some people like soccer. Some people like film. Some people like tigers. Some people like One Direction.

On the same point, you cannot force someone to share in the same passions as you. I’ve tried getting Boy to read more, but the truth is it’s just not his cup of tea. Just like he enjoys coding, I enjoy books. Just because I can’t find the same joy he does in picking apart Javascript and HTML doesn’t mean I can’t sit next on the couch and listen when he tells me about it. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like hearing about the latest suspense novel I read.

We are under no obligation to like something just because someone else does. However, we are under the obligation to act like decent human beings and let them get excited about the little things. If we stop letting people be happy, then eventually the same thing is going to happen to us. It’s a vicious cycle and it needs to stop.

Passion is that feeling when you love something so much that even thinking about it makes you smile. It’s the way I feel when I talk about Greek Mythology. It’s the way Boy’s eyes light up when he tells me that he figured out something involving codes and variables and other technical doobly doos that I don’t quite understand. I may not understand it, but I can definitely appreciate and enjoy how absolutely thrilled he gets when he talks about it.

Let people be happy. End of story.

12 Common Misconceptions About Dating

Most people think that once they hit sixteen or seventeen, Cupid is just going to shoot an arrow at their chest and boom! Love. But that’s not how it works. It’s actually a lot more complicated and a lot harder than it looks in romantic comedies.

I started dating when I was in middle school. Well, to be honest, I had a boyfriend in 4th grade. His name was Eric. And then he moved to Florida and conveniently forgot to inform me of this. Go figure. But anyways, I’m not going to count that.

And I’m going off topic. This post is not about my dating history, though there are some pretty entertaining stories about relationships I’ve had. Maybe next time. This post is about dating, love, and some common misconceptions of it that I’ve debunked in my 19 years. So here we go!

1) Love at first sight is not a thing. You can be attracted to someone at first sight and you can be interested at first sight. But love doesn’t happen instantaneously. Love at first sight doesn’t exist, as hard as that is to hear. Lust at first sight does not equal love.

2) Things don’t magically fall into place. There’s not some sort of change that happens after you turn sixteen that makes all the boys you know start asking you on dates. Sixteen is just a number. Yeah, sometimes you get lucky and a guy will ask you out and things will go great. But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, you just have to be really really patient.

3) One date does not equal a relationship. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of this. Most of my relationships started before an actual date was had. But that’s not how it should be. Dating is about finding out what you want in the person you’ll have a future with. It is about getting to know one another before slapping a label on it and calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend.

4) It’s okay to text the guy first or ask him out. My mom always told me that it was the guy’s job to make the first move. And, yeah, that’s chivalrous and everything…but guys can get shy too. Guys aren’t perfect and sometimes they’re going to get nervous and over analyze and convince themselves that you’re just not that into them, even though you totally are. And texting someone first all the time gets boring and kills your self-esteem.

5) On the same lines, don’t always make him pay. I mean, it’s great that they can support you and take you out to dinner, but I guarantee you that it’ll make him smile if you pay for a milkshake every once in a while. One of my favorite traditions with Brendan was going to Sheetz and buying a thing of fries and a smoothie for us to split. That was always my thing to pay for. And I loved it.

6) Dates don’t have to cost a huge amount of money. Go on a scavenger hunt. Have a picnic in the park. Go for a walk and take pictures. Find a movie on netflix and cuddle. Paint twister. Drive until you find something to explore. There are so many things that you can have a blast doing without spending a ton of cash.

7) Don’t take the other person for granted. Dating shouldn’t just be fun in the beginning. It doesn’t matter how long you date someone for, you should always be excited to find out something new about them. Don’t stop asking them their favorite color or song or movie because people change all the time. Part of being in a relationship is constantly getting to know the other person. One of my very favorite things to do when I’m starting to really like someone is play the question game. It’s a great way to learn about each other without the pressure.

8) Love isn’t perfect. And neither are relationships. You might meet someone who you think is perfect for you. And sometimes, it turns out that they aren’t. That is a really painful process, but you have to let go. It’s okay to say goodbye to people who don’t make you happy anymore. It’s okay to stop having feelings for someone. It doesn’t make you a bad person. We’re human and humans make mistakes and change their minds.

9) Fighting in relationships is healthy. I’m not talking about fighting over every little thing and screaming down each other’s throats. I’m talking about actually talking about your problems. If you want a real relationship, you have to deal with real problems. And they won’t just go away if you avoid them. Nothing kills relationships faster than problems that you didn’t know were there. You aren’t going to agree on everything. People aren’t the same. Eventually, your opinions or desires will clash and you’ll have to deal with that.

10) It’s not all about personality. You can’t have a healthy relationship if you aren’t physically attracted to the person you’re dating. The fact is, you don’t notice someone’s personality first most of the time. Your first impression is almost always physical. You like their smile or think they have pretty eyes or think they have achieved male model status. Physical attractiveness might not be the most important thing in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. I’m going to be perfectly honest here and embarrass myself (and probably Brendan). The first thing I noticed about him was his abs. The second thing I noticed was his sweet spirit. So, yes, physical attributes do make a difference. Just don’t base a relationship on the fact that someone is handsome or pretty.

11) Don’t be so picky. First impressions aren’t always right and your mom isn’t always wrong when she tells you to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Again, we’re human and humans make mistakes. You might meet someone and base your impression of them on a day where they just got horrible news or had a bad experience. If you go into dating expecting to find perfection, you’re going to be disappointed. Yes, you can find the perfect person for you. But they aren’t always perfect when you first meet them. And sometimes the person you are meant to be with is right in front of you and you just never realized it because you already labeled them as something else.

12) Stop stressing over every little thing. Dating is supposed to be fun. Healthy relationships aren’t about finding things to worry about. You shouldn’t look for something to fight over. You marry who you date and you should want to marry someone that makes you happy. Stop letting your fear control you and just feel what you feel. There will be problems; every relationship has them. But don’t let them destroy something beautiful. Don’t make up problems because you get scared. It’s okay to be scared and it’s okay to want something to work out with everything you have. But if you overthink and over analyze, you’ll end up destroying it before it even has a chance to turn into something real.

The Magic Word

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(image from sugarbones.net)

 

Okay, so this post is very near and dear to my heart and will mainly consist of me rambling about society and how it needs a serious reality check. Feel free to grab popcorn because this may end up being the length of a feature film.

How many of us use the word ‘no’ on a regular basis?

I know I use it quite a lot.

“No, you cannot climb into that cave, Joshua.”

“No, Brendan, you cannot sleep through finals week.”

“No, grandmother. That is not how you turn on the television.”

‘No’ is pretty much a solid piece of my every day vocabulary. However, I rarely say no when it comes to people asking me to do things. If you ask to borrow my laptop, chances are, I will say yes. I will give you two dollars to buy a soda. I’ll edit your essay. I’ll let you steal some of my chips.

Bottom line. I am not good at saying no to people. This is because society has taught me that no does not mean no. In society, no is just another word for maybe.

But that’s not true. There is nothing wrong with saying no and I don’t need a justification for it. I am a human being with rights and one of those rights is to say no. I don’t need to give you a five page essay detailing why I do not want to go see the new action movie. I don’t need reasons to not want to do something.

This stigma affects everyone. But mostly, it affects girls. And to be perfectly honest, it pisses me off. In this day and age, the male species should be well aware that no means no. You shouldn’t have to spell it out for them.

One thing that I really hate about dating is that idea that you “should never say no.”

Um. Watch me.

If a guy asks me out and I’m not interested or I don’t feel comfortable, I am not going to say yes. I’m not going to just plaster a smile on my face and say, “Sure, let’s go out” because that’s the ‘nice’ thing to do.

Saying no does not make me a bad person. 

Saying no does not make me a bad person. 

And one more time for the folks in the back.

SAYING NO DOES NOT MAKE ME A BAD PERSON.

I don’t care if I can go with three other couples to make it less awkward. I don’t care if my best friend is across the table from me. I care if I am comfortable in that situation or not.

So, rule of thumb. If someone asks you to do something and you genuinely do not want to do it, don’t. You aren’t under any obligation to make anyone else happy at the expense of your own feelings.

You never ever ever have to justify yourself for saying no. No is a full sentence. It is a complete thought and it does not need an explanation.

Once upon a time, a guy asked me out. I, being me, panicked and said yes even though I was completely and utterly uncomfortable. After one horribly awkward date, it blew up and I found myself in a very unsettling situation and basically no way out without hurting someone’s feelings. Then commenced the avoiding of texts and calls and Facebook messages. After a month or so of this, I was continuously on the edge of a mental breakdown every time he was in the room because I couldn’t stand the thought of hurting anyone, but it was killing me. People would tell him that we were just friends and he wouldn’t accept it. Finally, I got so desperate that I messaged him on Facebook and clarified that we were just friends. Things got steadily worse after that particular declaration and the mental breakdown that had been tugging at my heartstrings came out in the form of a full blown panic attack.

Moral of the story. If I had just said no in the beginning, none of that would have happened and maybe I wouldn’t still feel so guilty about the entire situation.

But I was literally terrified out of my freaking mind to tell this guy no when he asked me out because in my experience, no has never meant no. It has turned into “convince me.” And most people are more than willing to accept the challenge.

Society has turned a simple word into a twisted “read between the lines” situation and it’s not okay in the slightest.

No means no. That’s really all there is to it. You don’t have to explain yourself and you shouldn’t have to fight to make someone accept a negative response to their request. If you ask to borrow my laptop and I say no, just take that at face value and move on. I’m sure I have a reason, but the fact is I shouldn’t need one. Sometimes, you just don’t want to do something.

There was a quote on Tumblr that really stood out to me. “Don’t say maybe if you want to say no.” It’s okay to not want to do something. Sometimes, you’re just not in the mood to go anywhere or do anything besides watch Netflix. Sometimes, you don’t feel comfortable saying yes. Sometimes, you would rather do something else. It’s okay to say no. It doesn’t make you a bad person and you shouldn’t feel guilty for it.

No is a full sentence. And the world needs to realize that.