Saying “No” Can Be Good

At the end of last school year, I told myself to get involved in something I’d wanted to do the past three years: marching band.

Now, I’ve never taken a band class before. I don’t play a musical instrument (not at school, anyways). But some of my friends are very involved in band, and they often talked about the people they know (from band), the things they do (in band), and how the band director is looking for more people to sign up (for band) next year.

Well, the decision seemed obvious.

I started filling out the marching band commitment form, but what amazed me was the amount of rehearsals that I would be required to go to. Four hot weeks before school, then every week during school, plus football games. It looked overwhelming, but I pushed down the feeling instead of asking anyone for advice, and continued on.

It was only after I’d signed up that I told my parents about the massive commitment I’d just agreed to. They had their reservations, but they allowed me to do it since they knew I had wanted to join band for a long time

That’s how I wound up in the scorching August heat, holding a clarinet I had never properly learned to play. On a day when most of my peers were still enjoying their vacation, I was sweating like a dog on the football field and learning how to march.

Now, I’m not saying that you should never push yourself to do challenging things. But learning that for 40 hours a week, I would be sitting in the bleachers and watching other people march? And that I couldn’t take breaks or go in the shade or go home when I wasn’t needed? I had never learned to play the instrument I was holding, so I felt quite useless. Suddenly, I wished I was still doing my summer reading. I wished that I could have time to do other things I enjoy, like theater and choir.

I quit marching band. Even though my friends were all doing it, even though it was what I had wanted to do for years, even though the director needed people. I said no to an activity that I thought I wanted to do. And I felt really guilty about letting people down! But I apologized to them, and I told them that I just couldn’t handle it. Ultimately, my mental health is more important, and I can’t find the time to focus on me if I’m juggling school, band, and everything else.

YOUR mental health is more important, and if you find yourself involved in something you no longer want to do, then it’s okay to step back and say no, this isn’t working for me.

Best of luck,


Was there anything you’ve ever agreed to do and wish you had said ‘no’ to? When do you think it’s best or appropriate to say ‘no’ to things other people ask you to do?

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