This month, I learned the importance of the word “No.” Unfortunately, I learned this while suffering through the regret of not using this word.

I love being involved. Being involved is important. However, saying “Yes” to everything is not a solution, and it really shouldn’t even be an option. It’s impossible.

Trust me. I tried. And I failed.

As a high school student, and just as a teenager in general, I’ve got a lot of sections of my life: homework, friends, rehearsal for the school play, family time, my job and writing columns just like this one. Maintaining balance among all of these activities is a difficult task, one that I have not always seen as possible.

So the result is an alternating sacrifice. Something always gets sacrificed. That’s the catch.

Saying “No” is hard for me though. I never want to disappoint people. I’m a people-pleaser. And I always try to help, because I want to be involved and I love doing new things. I jump at any chance to try something new and get more involved in activities that interest me. But sometimes it’s better to do fewer activities and do them well.

It’s the old question of quality vs. quantity. If I do less, I could be more involved in what I’m doing, and the balance would be restored.

This lesson came at the perfect time. I was just beginning to get excited about getting involved in as much as possible. Three panic attacks later, I’m not so keen on doing as much as possible because, sometimes, it’s really not possible and it’s certainly not ideal.

Getting involved doesn’t mean doing everything. It means doing a few things — things I want to do, and things that I am able to do. That’s what matters. Doing more than I can handle is just as bad as doing nothing at all. In both situations, I’m not living up to my potential, and I’m not giving it my all. It’s a choice to say “No.” And the choice is mine.

Before this harsh reality hit me, I was scared to say “No.” I was more scared of disappointing the people around me than I was of the consequences that I would face for heaping more onto my already full plate. But now I know that it is more important to do only as much as I can handle. Otherwise, I’m giving people less than my potential and less than they deserve.

Although I might have to say “No” sometimes, that doesn’t mean no one else will be there to say “Yes.” Just because I say “No,” that doesn’t mean everyone else will. Someone else might be waiting for me to say “No,” just so they can start doing something they’ve been waiting to do.

Perrin Dean is a senior at Wilsonville High School. She is contributing a regular column to the Spokesman this school year.

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