One of the unexpected skills I’m developing from being a Couchsurfing host is the ability to comfortably say “No” to people. We’ve hosted nine people and have two more scheduled, and we have said no to another 8 or so. Saying no doesn’t come easy for me, I’m not sure why. I seem willing to sacrifice my own health and mental wellness just to say yes to people and take care of their needs. Even when I do say no to someone, I spend that time I carved out for myself feeling guilty about it.
I think, in part, it is because I don’t have a lot of self-love. I just assume other people’s needs are more important than mine, particularly if they are direct enough for me to ask for something. Another side of this coin is my reluctance to ask for something I want, even with my partner it has been a slow process (which might be why I have never really asked a girl out). I guess I assume that if someone asks for something it must be REALLY important, but I really should value my own time and health just as much as they value theirs. I should be willing and able to say no.
I also feel the need to come up with some really important excuse, almost to the point of lying. When we get a Couchsurfing request it feels wrong to just say “Sorry, I’m not available, I hope you have a great time in Wilmington though”. Instead, I feel the need to explain that work is really busy or that we don’t have space or that we will be out of town (even if those things aren’t true). I don’t need an excuse, though. My own desire is reason enough. Nobody has a right to my spare bedroom or my time, and I shouldn’t be ashamed of saying no to those that ask to use it.
Clearly, this goes beyond just Couchsurfing. We should all realize that we have the right to say no to people simply because we don’t want to do it. It is empowering to say no and it asserts that I, alone, am in charge of my life. By saying “no” I am able to more fully live the life that I desire instead of having my life scheduled by other people. Saying no, is hard for me, but I really am getting better at it and starting to respect myself enough to prioritize my own desires instead of what others want.