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Scholar-Journalist of the Week: Don’t say yes when you want to say no

This week’s winner, Aditya Arora, a B Com student with Apeejay College of Fine Arts, Jalandhar, shares the importance of learning to say “no” to others when needed



Aditya in Hindi means ‘the Sun’ and the 20-year-old Jalandhar boy considers himself as effervescent as it is. He says, “Some people consider the sun to be harsh, but to me, it is the light in people’s lives, and that’s what I try to be.” In fact, Aditya Arora, who is pursuing B Com from Apeejay College of Fine Arts (ACFA), tries to do so through his writings. In an interview, he talks about his write-up – Don’t say yes when you want to say no. Edited excerpt: 

Why did you choose to write on this topic?

I chose to write on this topic because I think more people need to know about this and realise that they are not eliminating their presence by just saying no. I wanted to give out a message of self-love and appreciation as well as knowing when you don’t feel like it, you shouldn’t do it – no matter how much pressure people put on you. 

Have you been in this dilemma of saying ‘no’ but had said ‘yes’? Share one such instance with us?

 I don’t have enough fingers to count how many times I have been a patient of this ‘people pleasing’ mechanism. From a very young age, we are given this perspective (at least I have been) that saying no is synonymous with insulting someone or not giving them respect. And in Indian culture, someone who is older to you somehow is always right. I have always been a stage kid and I have spent my entire school life as well as my first year of college on stage. So, public speaking is not an issue for me. But sometimes it would get hectic and honestly monotonous to do the same thing again and again. So even when I wanted to give myself some time to get away from all of it, I would still say yes – even when I knew that I would not be enjoying the process. It was just because of the fear that somehow I would end up insulting my teachers, which later in life I realised is not actually true.  

So, does saying ‘no’ mean being impolite?

I never consider saying no to be impolite and it’s totally how the other person takes it. You will never be able to change the perception of a person who wants to think responding to them with ‘no’ is like disrespecting them. I am of the opinion that you are making these boundaries for yourself and if someone thinks it’s impolite, let them. 

Don’t you think it’s important to say ‘no’ at certain points even if it may be against the wishes of someone else? Your views

Totally, as I said earlier, the most important person whose opinion should matter to you is yourself(s). If you don’t like going to parties (like me), just say no, don’t feel comfortable or prepared to do something that someone forces (except for your parents) you to do, say no. Just make sure you prepare yourself to be at a place where you feel gratified with yourself, and that is all that matters.

How can an individual deal with the ‘yes-no’ dilemma? Share three tips that can help one to respond to a request/say no?

The first would be to ask for some time to revert back to the request, don’t hastily say yes. Think if you are comfortable with the whole process and if that’s a ‘no’ for you it should be a ‘no’ to them.  The second would be to set a boundary. People sometimes have a hard time saying no because they haven’t taken the time to evaluate their relationships and understand their role within the relationship. When you truly understand the dynamics and your role in that relationship, you won’t feel as worried about the consequences of saying no. You’ll realise that your relationship is solid and can withstand your saying no. Being able to say no may enable you to be more honest and authentic with others. Lastly, be assertive and firm along with having a clarity of thought and don’t beat around the bush.

So, when did you start writing? What was your first piece and what inspired you? What does writing mean to you?

Writing actually came as a by-product of preparing for debates and declamations. I honestly never thought that I would like writing but whenever I wanted to channel my thoughts, I felt like it was the perfect medium for that. I once wrote an article on ‘The problems of bureaucracy’ when I was in class 8 and at that time, I remember Shri Narendra Modi took charge as the Prime Minister and how everybody was excited about it. And that really inspired me to write on this topic. Today, writing is like a scapegoat for me – whenever I want to turn off the switch for reality, I just tend to write my thoughts away. 

What kind of books do you like to read? 

I don’t read a lot actually. I draw all my inspiration from listening to podcasts and interviews. I have tried reading books but I can never place my attention on them, so I stick to visual aids and get all that I need from hearing people speak. In fact, I was inspired to write this piece while listening to Miley Cyrus and how she dealt with similar situations.

Any topic you are currently working on? 

As of now, no. My process is usually writing something, taking some time off and then starting again.

Besides writing, what are your other interests and hobbies?

In my free time, I like listening to podcasts. 

Any key learning you have adapted through writing?

Yes, and that is that you have to be honest about what you write. It’s okay to express your opinion on things and if somebody doesn’t agree with it then it’s on them.

What is your future aspiration after completing your education from Apeejay?

Aspiration is a strong word. However, I would like to see myself emerge as a successful Chartered Accountant and for that, I think I will be going ahead with my preparation for the professional qualification exam ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and then will see where life takes me. 

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.