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Classes and Parties and Clubs, Oh My! How to Say No

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The college experience is generally touted as the best years of your life. Sure, you’re there to get an education and there’s no denying that your classes can be difficult and demanding at times, but strangely, the simple act of learning how to say no is often one of the hardest things to discover.

If you have ever wanted to turn down an invitation but wound up attending an event or joining an organization because you felt too guilty to say no, you’re not alone. Read more and learn how to say “No thanks!” without driving yourself crazy.

Are You Too Busy?

For most traditional-age students, college is a whirlwind of activity. Most “full-time” students physically spend just fifteen hours or less in class each week, and many confess to studying far less often than recommended. This generally allows plenty of time for a part-time job, hitting the clubs or going to parties, and having an active Greek life or participating in other school groups.

But having a bit of time on your hands doesn’t mean you should run yourself ragged or give up on sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. The University of Georgia’s University Health Center points out that students who average six or fewer hours of sleep each night feel more tired (obviously!) as well as sad and stressed out.

Understand Why You Always Say Yes

Even if you are getting enough sleep or have enough time on your hands, it’s perfectly acceptable to choose a night home alone with the TV over going to College Night at the bar with your friends. Just as distant relatives who don’t even get along spend holidays together out of tradition or guilt, people accept invitations they don’t really want to for a few different reasons:

  • You’re generally a people person and figure it will turn out okay.
  • You’re afraid of offending the person who invited you.
  • You don’t want to let anyone down.
  • You say yes now, but plan on making up an excuse beforehand to get out of whatever it is.
  • You’re afraid that you’ll miss something exciting or important if you don’t go or participate.
  • You don’t want to be a party pooper.

The truth is, spreading yourself too thin or lying to get out of something can backfire and cause more problems than simply turning down an invite. Saying yes even though you want to say no will most likely cause internal resentment against the person who invited you, which may confuse or anger them once they realize your heart just isn’t it in—whatever “it” is.

Thanks, But No Thanks!

Saying no politely might be tough for you at first, but it is possible. It takes confidence and a bit of nerve, but there’s nothing selfish about occasionally putting your own needs first. Remember these tips:

  • Listen to the person who is inviting you somewhere or asking you to do something without interrupting them.
  • If possible, buy time by saying something like “Let me get back to you on that” or “I’ll check my schedule and let you know tomorrow.”
  • Whether you turn someone down immediately or after a day or two, say no simply and calmly without raising your voice. It’s actually easy—“I’m sorry, but I can’t.”
  • If you feel like you must offer an excuse, apologize without caving in. Say “I’d love to, but I’m really busy because of …” or “That sounds like fun, but I already promised to …”

Agreeing to do anything and everything during college might seem harmless enough, but the habit could actually cause you to get into dangerous situations, such as going on a date with just someone you don’t like or someone you are afraid of, taking drugs, or getting involved in something illegal. Those activities could cause much bigger problems than schedule conflicts!

Read More:

10 Ways You Can Get Kicked Out of College

The Worst Mistakes You Can Make This Semester

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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