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An Open Letter To All 20-Somethings: Don’t Panic!

An Open Letter To All 20-Somethings: Don’t Panic!

The first and most important thing is: life does not get easier. Being an adult is not easy and won’t ever get any easier. Why? Because you will face new problems as life goes on. With each stage in your life, you will learn lessons that will help mold you into the person you were destined to be. Your twenties will be where most of those lessons are learned. I suppose this is not what you wanted to read. Perhaps you expected me to come up with something magnificent and inspiring. You were expecting something intelligent that will teach you the secrets to living an easy life.

I am here to tell you that there is no secret in the world that will keep your heart from breaking, dreams from crashing, and your faith from fading at some points in your life. Your best chapters in your life will most likely be written in your twenties—you just don’t know it yet. Your heart mends, your dreams change, and your faith comes back… so don’t panic. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. You must learn to let it be.

Planning your life down to the minute is not the way to live. You are in your twenties… you absolutely are not expected to have everything figured out, so stop acting like it! I have found that if you plan everything down to the very second, life gets even more hectic and you aren’t exactly living.

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That 10-year plan that you wrote in high school is really more like a guideline and not exactly a map to your life. It is great to have goals, but we are our own harshest critics. If you don’t get that call back for your dream job at 22, don’t be too hard on yourself. Pick yourself up and keep trying. That doesn’t necessarily mean keep calling the company that didn’t call you back either. If a door closes in your face, let it be. Keep going because there are so many other doors to knock on and the one you walk through will be the right one.

2. Forever isn’t really forever in your twenties.

This goes for every aspect of your life. This goes for what you think is a dream job, where you want to live, who you want to be with. Almost everything in your life at the moment is temporary. At this point in your life, it is okay to not be sure of what you want to be when you grow up (even if you feel as if you are grown up). As of right now, I have been a barista, served in the military, worked in a daycare, worked with small business owners to fix their credit, been a barista again, become a wedding planner, written articles for a great website, and now am planning events for one of the greatest companies I have ever worked for. Trust me, nothing is permanent in your twenties. You will constantly change your mind—and that is completely okay!

Speaking of things not being permanent, do not beat yourself up over your current “love.” Don’t go looking around for the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with at this age. If your soulmate happens to stumble into your life, perfect! If not, that’s okay. Right now, you are really figuring things out. Heartbreak pains go away with good company and laughter. Keep your friends close and you will soon get over it. Also, when your friends tell you that someone is toxic, listen to them. More than likely, they are right. If they see that the person you love does not treat you the way you should be treated and say something to you, do not ignore it. They truly care for you and only wish the best for you.

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One last note on this subject: if the person you love lays a hand on you, they do not love you. That truth is plain and simple… THEY DO NOT LOVE YOU. Stop making excuses for their awful behavior and cut them lose. You will eventually forget their phone number, where they live, and their name. Trying to fit them into your life is like you trying to fit a piece of a completely different puzzle into the one you are working on. It will fit for now, but eventually you will need to get rid of it to move on and complete it. They will only hold you back from becoming the amazing person you are meant to be.

3. Your giant group of friends will eventually become a small circle.

At this point in your life, you will start to go from about a hundred friends to about five really good friends that you can trust. Get rid of the ones that are negative all the time, get rid of anyone that says they “love you,” but abuses you either physically or mentally. None of these people are worth your time. At this point in your life, the sky is the limit, but you have to get rid of the extra baggage before you fly. I know that we all try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but if they are keeping you from growing up and getting out there in the world, you do not need them.

You will find good people out there that will want nothing but to see you happy and successful. Don’t be afraid of the world—there are a lot of nice people that will be willing to grow with you and experience what life’s new chapter has in store.

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4. Now’s the time to see the world.

It is “too expensive,” you say? Let me break it down for you, okay? Let’s say you buy a large cup of coffee at your local café for about $5.95 every single day for a year (this is excluding the second time you go there to get your afternoon cup), how much would you have? The math is $5.95 x 365 = $2,171.75. That is a trip to Mexico, Canada, another state, Europe, and the list goes on the longer you save. Travel is something that everyone should experience. Seeing the world and experiencing a different culture is an eye-opener. So get your passport ready and get out in the world for a bit.

5. Slumps aren’t only for baseball.

You will go through several slumps in life. You will accept job offers that leave you baffled on your first day. You will have some tough times financially, you will experience heartbreak, and you won’t get called back for that interview, but just think of it as a slump. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn: you just can’t be in control all of the time. Things might not go as you planned them out when you were 18 years old, but you’ve just got to roll with the punches. Your twenties are supposed to be the best part of the roller coaster called life.

All in all, these are going to be the best and worst years of your life. Do not be afraid to make memories. Don’t be afraid to go to the party tonight because of the hangover tomorrow—trust me, they get worse as you get older, so do it now!

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Dream big, smile often (even when you don’t feel like it) and meet new people so you can narrow it down to the friends that you are going to keep for life. Most importantly, you need to learn. Learn as much as you can because we are expected to make countless mistakes. So by all means, make them. You are still growing and still learning, and that is okay.

Featured photo credit: Alex/ College Graduation via flickr.com

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Margielyn Musser

Event And Volunteer Coordinator / World Traveler

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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