Gender & Identity Life

It’s time to let yourself say no

Being a yes person is almost never a good thing. There was a point in my life when I thought it was. Every year, people tell me to be stronger. Be braver. To learn how to say no. And I’m trying, I swear. But it isn’t that easy when you aren’t built that way. When the nod of your head comes more easily than the formation of an n and o by your mouth.

In Pakistan, girls are meant to be submissive. Pakistanis like meek girls. They like girls that hide their gaze and shyly smile at you from a distance. But the ones that shake their heads, the ones that defy the norms, god we hate them. They should be ostracised, they say. I used to always say yes. It was as if it were built in my bones. But somehow, I became part of the latter group. The girls that were too loud, the girls whose voices rose when they were shushed. It’s okay to say no. Practice it. Preach it. If you don’t want to do something, just don’t. You are not supposed to please anyone but yourself.

Say no to smiling

[Image Description: A gif of two girls being told, “you girls are so pretty, you should smile” and then making funny faces.] Via giphy
Embrace that resting bitch face, or half-assed face or whatever it is that you do. That aunty that asked why you’re frowning at that wedding last weekend? Don’t let it get to you. When you get that, “Babe, please smile” remember that your smile is worth more. It isn’t there to make anyone else feel comfortable.

Say no to that 2 a.m. “you up?” message that you’ll only regret in the morning

[Image Description: A gif of Emma Stone giving a thumbs up.] Via giphy
Your time is worth so much more, and boys like that, worth so much less. Sometimes when you’re at a low point in life, you accept less than you deserve, it’s understanding your worth that makes the difference. So ignore messages that mean nothing in the morning, because with daylight, comes clarity, Wait for it.

Say no to late night McDonald’s

[Image Description: A gif of a child saying “Chicken nuggets is like my family.”] Via giphy
I know the cravings. It’s Saturday night, you’re going home with your friends and someone suggests McDonald’s. It’s just routine now, you don’t even think about it. But sometimes, it’s okay to say no., Because eventually, your body will begin to betray you.

Say no to everyone that tells you that you can’t

[Image Description: A gif of a girl saying “you go girl.”] Via giphy
Because you can. That aunty that tells you that you can’t be loud and ladylike at the same time? You can. That boss that tells you your ideas are not valid? They are, they always are. So don’t allow yourself to be swayed by all the rejection in your life. There is so much acceptance coming your way.

Say no to hiding behind social media

[Image Description: A gif of a girl trying to take a selfie with another girl and being rejected, with the tags Facebook and Tumblr.] Via giphy
We all do it. Tweeted passive aggressively about someone we don’t like. Put up a picture to piss someone off. It’s innate. But we need to stop. We need to say no. We should never post things on social media that we cannot say out loud because that makes us weak.

Say no to taking too much

[Image Description: A gif of a man saying “just say no.”] Via giphy
We spend so much of our times just doing. Constantly moving around and about and never really stopping to take in what’s happening around us. Sometimes life does get overwhelming, it does get unbearable. It’s okay to say no. If you have too much on your plate, you can refuse. It makes life so much easier.

Fuck the resolutions, everyone knows that stuff never works. It’s been three months into 2018, and for me, things still feel the same. It’s as if January, February and March were a long post-December hangover. Maybe April is when everything will begin. So here’s to a fierce April, to all the girls that have been told to be submissive, all the girls that have been told to always say yes, just don’t. Don’t do it, not unless you really want to.

By Maheen Humayun

Maheen Humayun is a writer, poet and educator based in Karachi, Pakistan. She has a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing. In addition to working as the Senior Editor for Love, she teaches literature in the day, and writes her own at night. Maheen has written for The Express Tribune and Dawn as well and her novella, "Special," was published in 2012. When she isn't writing for The Tempest, you can find her drinking copious amounts of black coffee, working on crushing the patriarchy, learning digital art, and doing spoken word poetry.