I haven’t changed, I’ve just learned when to say no

“You’ve changed.” At some time or another, we’ve all had someone say this to us or heard it being said about someone else. But I have always wondered just how much truth there is to this. Sure, people can change their ways and turn their lives around and we’ve seen it happen countless times. We have seen criminals leave their sinister ways behind, addicts wean themselves off drugs and alcohol to lead clean lives and heavily indebted individuals bounce back from the brink of bankruptcy. The sort of change that I’m referring to is that which reflects a change of character, not deeds.

Reliability and dependability may be great qualities to possess, but at whose expense?

Often times either for fear of rejection or not being liked, we say yes to things when we really want to say no. And the problem with this is is creates a pattern in your relationships where people become accustomed to you being someone they know they can depend on. Reliability and dependability may be great qualities to possess, but at whose expense are you dependable? Nine times out of ten your own.

Have you ever had someone invite you to something and you know it’s not really your cup of tea but you go anyway because you don’t know how to say no without offending them?  Then you get to the event and you can’t wait to leave because you’re not having fun and only agreed because you were afraid to say no? And yes sometimes accepting invitations that drag you out of your comfort zone could end up being worth your while.

But it’s also okay to just say thanks, but no thanks sometimes. People who really know you and care about your well-being won’t take it personally. If anything, they’re likely to appreciate your honesty.

Sometimes people become accustomed to you being the friend that’s always willing to listen even though you have so much going on in your own life. Or you’re the sister that loans money without asking questions because you want to help wherever you can. Or in a relationship, you’re the partner that is always the first to want to reach a compromise even though you end up being more on the back foot than your other half.

Then one day, something changes. It may be an incident that sparks it or a realisation that you’re not going to do it anymore. So when that friend that drains you emotionally calls, you politely pass on the invitation to hang out. When someone asks you for money, yet again, you tell them you can help in any other way, just not financially. And when your partner expects you to budge on a major dispute that you feel strongly about, you dig in your heels because your needs deserve to be met as much as theirs.

You can’t please everyone and it’s not your responsibility to do so

And then wait for it, because it’s coming. “You’ve changed, you used to be nicer” they’ll say. But no you haven’t changed; you just don’t care about being nice at your own expense anymore. You always knew who you were and what you wanted but somewhere along the line, you got more concerned with making other people happy and tolerating crap that you shouldn’t have to.

I truly believe that people don’t change, they become more of who they’ve always been but were somehow fearful of revealing. They get to place where losing some people is easier than holding onto the toxic ones. Where saying no means setting boundaries and not being taken advantage of. And there will be people who will find this empowered you difficult to swallow. Let them be, you can’t please everyone and it’s not your responsibility to do so.

Featured image: Quincy Alivio/Unsplash

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