I think, therefore I write

Do you know what NO means?

2017 was a multifaceted year for me and throughout it was constructed with blocks of hardships and towards the end came the home stretch. We are still running the home stretch in several aspects. But the troubles are not what I want to write about. They come and go and I don’t know how I am going to fare through them yet. But I have learnt one solid lesson from all that I faced and all that I am facing – A lot of people, even those whom you trust to understand you, will sometimes won’t. One of the major issues I see is that not everyone knows what it means when you say NO to something. The rejection of their idea/suggestion/<whatever> is unacceptable to them. I was shell shocked to see that this caused a lot of friction in an otherwise normal situation. I always assumed that we have evolved into this century enough to know that every individual has a choice when it comes to things that involve them and the person who is involved has the final say. However, to get this done, to make the message reach, the struggle I had to go through was so tiring that I started wondering if people really know what it means when I say NO or when I say that I don’t want to do something they suggest.

This happened to me even in the smallest of the things and with people as close as my parents. It was and still is immensely hard to make them understand that I am not interested in something and hence don’t have any desire to participate in something. When I compliment something they had done once, that does not mean they have to repeat the same thing over and over again. It means that I liked it that one time. It means that when I say NO the next time, they should give it the same respect as they did when I complimented them the first time. For example, once my dad had bought and sent a bottle guard from our native through a relative. I found that the vegetable was fresher and juicier than what I could usually buy in Bangalore. I thanked him and told him the same. From then on, he has bought me that same vegetable every time I go home for me to bring to Bangalore. And every time some relative comes from my native, he would send it through them. I accepted his good intentions but after a while, it became too much. For one thing, it was that one instance when the vegetable was fresher and juicier. And it was that one instance I enjoyed. I tried telling him that and tried making him understand that I will ask him if and when I want it. I tried convincing him that I am getting sick of eating it every other week just because he keeps sending it. But surprisingly, he did not understand when I said I didn’t want it. I said it multiple times but he did not understand. But he understood it perfectly fine the first time when I said that I liked it. This is such a silly issue but what it made me realise is that often times people don’t understand when you say NO. There were many such other instances but I chose the silliest example because it portrays how our behaviour is even in the simplest of things.

You try to make the other person understand why you are saying NO and that you are entitled to say NO because you are the one going through a certain situation. Finally what works is putting your foot down anyway. It seems harsh at times to put your foot down in the smallest of matters but I believe this is an attitude issue and not about when the attitude comes out. We need to be more accepting of people, their likes and dislikes alike, their choices and the fact that we cannot intrude anyone’s personal space for that matter. We need to accept an YES and a NO equally. Just because the positive side makes us feel better, we have no right to trample over their choices. Yes, you can take the easy route out and knuckle under for small issues – I was doing that all along. But this blew up in my face in bigger issues when I was in a really vulnerable situation and needed proper support. Yes, I needed support but I needed it to be understanding support. Understanding of my needs. Not just claiming that you are supporting me and doing whatever pleases you. That’s worse than no support at all. So when it blew up big time, I couldn’t handle it and flew into rages that didn’t help me or the person who was causing the trouble. So I started working on my side and realised the mistake I have been doing all along. I need to make my YES and NO clear. Equally. Irrevocably. The methods I chose to do it can be different – diplomatic or stubborn. But the bottom line is that I need to make my choices clearly understood. And it was not an easy journey to do this after having given in for so long. After having suppressed it for so long. It was hard for me and for the other person. But it was something that needed to be done. And so I did it and am still doing it. I should say, the results are beginning to show.

I have a feeling that this lesson I learnt in 2017 is going to come a long way and is going to help me in times of crisis. It is in no way a 2018 resolution or whatever but ever since the day I decided not to let people trample over my choices, I am able to take full responsibility of my choices – good or otherwise, which is what I should have done a long time ago.

Until later 🙂


  1. Uma

    I hear you, Keirthana. It’s usually the silly things that explode after some time. And, it’s always good to establish rules and boundaries even with close people. I struggle with it. The emotional blackmail and guilt trip you’re sent onto is something else.
    Good to see you blogging again! Will keep visiting 🙂

    • Keirthana

      True Uma! The struggle is something we all go through because it hits close to home when it is our loved ones involved. But to grow as a person and for the good of everyone, we must try.

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