My best friend from back home, Laney, once gave me some simple, yet wise advice: “say no when you don’t want to, say yes when you can’t think why not.” This idea has stuck with me for a long time. I’ve come to firmly believe that one of the secrets to happiness, and also to making progress in our lives, is saying yes (with discretion, of course).
There are times in our lives when we are faced with decisions, and we must give a clear answer – yes, or no. Sometimes these decisions are small:
“Yes, I’d love another cookie.”
“No, I won’t marry you.”
Regardless, these questions require answers. Of course, sometimes the answer is simply “no”, but when I am faced with a decision where I get that see-saw feeling of uncertainty, I try to make myself say yes. “Yes” is a door that can be opened to amazing possibilities and closed up again if we change our minds, while “no” is just a wall – solid, permanent, and without openings. For me, saying yes has become a way of life.
At Colby, saying yes to things and being generally open to new experiences has brought me so much happiness and it has helped me to cultivate a life here. Within the first week of being at college, I quickly noticed that opportunities were constantly jumping out at us. Invitations to hear a guest lecturer speak, movie nights, free yoga classes, pie eating contests, trips to New York City, hikes (the list goes on)… and then there were the clubs. Colby has over 100 different clubs to choose from, and practically anything you could possibly be interested in is a club (there’s even Napping Club). At the Club Expo in September, I literally signed up for 24 different clubs. Okay, I know that this was excessive, but it ties into my concept of saying yes. There was no way that I was actually going to commit myself to all of the clubs that I signed up for, but by putting my name down on their email lists, I was giving myself the opportunity to later “say yes.”
In the end, I was happy that I had signed up for so many clubs, because some clubs that I signed up for randomly, not really intending to join (like Ballroom Dance Club, for instance), became some of my favorite things I do on campus.
At the very start of school, I also made the decision to “say yes” and to audition for the One Week Musical that happens the first week of every school year at Colby. The One Week, essentially, is when a group of Colby students comes together to put up a full length musical with just one week of preparation. This year the musical was Kiss Me, Kate. At first I was uncertain about whether or not I should do it, because it seemed like a huge undertaking, but I went through with it and got to sing the whole opening number by myself, learned a bunch of fun dance numbers, and made a ton of new friends. Two of the girls that I met through the One Week, Kathryn and Isabel, have remained two of my closest friends on campus. If I hadn’t said yes to the opportunity to do the musical, I may never have met them and my life wouldn’t be half as fun without them.
Two other examples of “yes” in action:
I was walking back from dinner one night when some girls from my theater class ran over to me and said “Katie! You should audition for the Powder and Wig fall season!” Powder and Wig is the student run theater group on campus. I decided to “say yes”, and I walked into the audition 10 minutes before it ended, and by the end of the night, I had been cast in a play about robots called R.U.R.
I was eating lunch at the Spanish lunch table one day and one of the Spanish language assistants had seen me sing in the musical, so she asked me if I would want to be on the Spanish team for a music contest in which all of the different language departments sing and dance in their language. I said yes to this opportunity and have met so many cool people and have gotten to practice my Spanish a ton and sing (two of my favorite things to do!)
So, my general message here is, say yes. Take opportunities that come your way, even if you don’t know what will come from them. Try new things even if they scare you. You hold the magic word that opens the doors to possibility – use it.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
- H. Jackson Brown