December 17, 2021 | OPINION | By Finn Mott | Illustration by Kira Schulist

Sometimes you just need to stay in your room eating Frosted Flakes until 2:00 a.m. Wait, let me rephrase that. Sometimes you need to impulsively drive to the closest Wendy’s to dip some fries in a chocolate frosty listening to 2000s hits in the car. Sometimes you need buy yourself a $10 coffee. Sometimes you just need to say “no” when you’re not up to something.

As young people of the world, society places a lot of weight on our shoulders. From personal experience, I know that this can translate into feeling guilty for taking time off. I know that many of my peers and I do not feel welcome to take a break even when that break means catching up on needed rest, mental health, and personal time.

One of the hardest things we can say to ourselves is “no, I do not need to do this right now” or simply accepting the fact that it’s okay. Plainly, society tells us that we must move upward without any digressions. However, it is perfectly normal to actually be all over the place in regard to progress. You do not need to have your life or yourself together all the time. It is okay to tell the world “No, I will not be conforming to your arbitrary standards today.” It is also crucial for you to be able to say “no” for your future health, growth, and overall quality of life.

Saying no also applies to people. The cold reality is that things change and one day you will find yourself needing to distance yourself from somebody you were once really close to. Friendship is a truly complicated endeavor and although it would be nice if every friend became a life-long soulmate, that’s not always realistic. It’s not to say that these friendships are not valuable, but to advocate saying no when the time comes.

Additionally, you can still love someone and have to say no to them. This could be with a family member, a lover, or a close friend. If you find yourself having to blockade yourself or confine yourself around them, it might be time to say no. I am still struggling with this on a day-to-day basis and must admit it can be painful. It is worth remembering that saying no is not a selfish act if you are protecting yourself. You are not being selfish by removing yourself from possibly toxic and damaging situations or relationships.

Say no to the pressures of society and say yes to your body, mind, and heart. In the end, if you are not taking care of yourself then you have nothing. Together, let’s find the healthiest lifestyle and please remember you are never alone. We can foster a culture where our bodies, minds, and hearts are prioritized and loved despite the projections we hear from society.

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