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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Rakel

Lesson to 30: Learning to say "No"

Updated: Apr 16

Hitting the Big 3-0.

Today there’s officially 30 days (if you count today and December 18th) until I turn 30. While I don’t usually make a big deal out of birthdays, I think it’s special to mark round birthdays. How often are you really going to be able to celebrate those? 8 times? 9 or 10 if you have the stamina of a Nokia 3310?

So I’ll be doing #30TidbitsUntil30

The next 30 days, I’ll share tidbits. I’ve selected three categories to cover: Mental wellbeing, lessons from being in the music industry and the third category is a mixed bag of fun.

So without further ado, let's dive in.

Tidbit One

Category: Mental Wellbeing

Wanting to say "no" but saying "yes"
Photo from Forbes

I have gone to way too many social events where the highlight of the night was the slice of pizza, I bought at 2am at 7/11. Needless to say, getting dressed up was so not worth it.

So how did I get myself into this predicament? If you exclude parties/events that I genuinely wanted to go to but ended up having the same energy as a limp balloon, the answer is, I forced myself to go to things that I knew I wouldn’t enjoy. I didn’t say “no”.

Going into my 30s, I’ve started setting boundaries and saying “no”. Most importantly, I’ve stopped feeling so guilty for doing so. From professional settings to personal, many of us struggle with saying the word, but I’ve found that with practice, it get’s easier. Most importantly, it makes me feel stronger as I feel like I honour my own values, wants and needs.

Phoebe from friends saying "I wish I could but I don't want to"
Phoebe delivering the truth (photo from Pinterest)

I think one of my favourite lines from a TV show ever, is from Friends where Joey asks Phoebe if she’d like to help with something and she replies, “I wish I could, but I don’t want to.” And honestly, that’s a good enough reason. Sometimes, all you want to do is stay at home and binge watch RuPaul’s Dragrace. We’ve come to expect (or at least I grew up in an environment that did) that if you can’t make it to a social engagement, it must be because you’re already busy with something else, otherwise the polite decline is seen as unacceptable. When in truth, you might just not bloody feel like going.

And sometimes, you just know that the people coming, aren’t your crowd. Yes, I love my friendship with (insert name) but no, I will not go to a bar with them and their friends because frankly, their friends make me want to hurl myself out of a moving car…I’m sure their friends find me awful too. So, I would rather spend quality time with (insert name) another day, where I can be on my best form. Being miserable at a party just makes everyone else miserable. Let us all avoid misery, by letting me practice my drag race language from the comfort of my wine-stained sofa.

Professionally, saying “no” can be a hard situation to handle. Whether it be taking on more responsibility when you’re already pressed for time or shooting down an offer, I’ve definitely found these situations hard to navigate. Having led a solo artist career for the most part, I’ve been able to be picky as to who I choose to work with. Sometimes I enter work relationships that, as they progress, it’s evident it’s not working out. It’s not because anyone is wrong or a bad person, but if the chemistry isn’t there and your visions aren’t aligning, it’s sometimes best to part ways. It’s hard doing this, especially if you’re an empath and hate hurting people’s feelings. But I’ve never regretted ending a work relationship. Every time I’ve followed my gut on this, I feel an immense sense of relief.

In the early days of my career, I used to feel inexperienced and therefore didn’t feel that I had a right to say if I didn’t like something. Furthermore, I feared whoever’s idea I didn’t like, would get angry and tell people I’m difficult to work with. I was deeply paranoid that voicing any differing opinion would result in my name being tarnished. Thankfully, I’ve managed to shed my imposter syndrome and know now that my vision for my songs is incredibly important and I should be the one owning it. As a rule of thumb, I think it’s best to approach everyone with kindness. If something isn’t working for you, calm, open communication is the best tactic. My experience is that usually the calm tone is reciprocated. Together, you can then re-work and find another approach. And if the calmness isn’t reciprocated? Let them cool off. If they still can’t get over it, they might not be the right person for your project.

There are of course thousands upon thousands of other scenarios where learning to say “no” is beneficial. But I hope with these few examples that the next time you don’t feel like joining your friends for dinner or saying “yes” to another extracurricular when you really don’t have the time, you’ll honour your needs and kindly say “no”.

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