The Power of Saying No

Paloma Beach // St. Jean Cap Ferrat, France. Photo by: Charlotte Love

Paloma Beach // St. Jean Cap Ferrat, France. Photo by: Charlotte Love

My sophomore year in college, I signed up for a spring break trip to Havasu Lake. It was an “I’ll go if you go” type situation and after much debate and vacillation, a few of my closest friends and I said why not and paid the fee for three and a half days of all-inclusive lakeside parties, boat jaunts, and nightclubs.

The day before I was prepared to make the drive, something like dread set it. I was anxious to leave and all too comfortable relaxing at home with my family. I realized quickly that I had no interest in actually going to Havasu; just as quickly, however, my persuasive powers switched on and I began to convince myself of the fun time I would have. My reasoning eventually trampled my doubts and I proceeded to pile bikinis and sorority tanks and decks of cards in my suitcase anyway. At the last minute, though it wasn’t necessary, I decided to drive my own car. The decision felt right, though at the time I couldn’t articulate why.

Less than twenty-four hours after I arrived in Havasu, I bid a tearful, apologetic goodbye to my friends, grabbed my bag, and peaced out. I knew from the moment I arrived that I would have to force myself to enjoy the experience. Though I was in good company, I didn’t feel completely comfortable in Havasu. The atmosphere gave me negative vibes and ultimately, the trip wasn’t what I needed or wanted at that time in my life. I felt such relief on the five and a half hour solo journey home that I sang aloud to myself and broke the speed limit. 

In retrospect, I can see that my intuition was screaming at me not to go. Intuitively and consciously, I knew that I wouldn’t enjoy the party scene, the masses of intoxicated people, and the ever-present, throbbing bass music. I also knew that the best, most relaxing way for me to recharge my batteries is by reading, watching TV, and bumming around at the beach. But I didn’t listen to myself.

I chose to ignore my intuition in favor of going forward with an activity that I felt skeptical toward from the start.

I absolutely believe in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and in saying yes to new opportunities and adventures. But it’s also important to know yourself well enough to understand when an event or experience isn’t going to impact you positively or give you what you need. And your needs and desires might, and likely will, change with time and self-awareness.  

Don’t be hesitant to remove yourself from a situation that doesn’t feel right or to say no. Saying no to one thing only means you are saying yes to something else that resonates far more with who you are. And creating this confidence in what you like and what you need eventually manifests exactly what you like and what you need directly in your life.

The day after I arrived home from Havasu, the universe gave me an opportunity to say yes to an unforeseen and radical experience. I went skydiving with my brother and dad to face my fear of heights. It was terrifying and exhilarating and unforgettable. It also happened to be exactly what I needed—and all because I said no to something else.