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This is Clara, and this is a story about how she learned to say “no” to people! Clara had always been a hard-working student. Her classmates knew this well, and they frequently asked for her help. She didn’t mind doing so – in fact she was happy to! Sometimes they asked to copy her homework or help with a test, and she said yes, because she always thought that you should help your friends.
The only problem was that they didn’t see her as their friend! Her class had several groups of friends who regularly hung out together, but none of them even invited her to meet up with them. And even if they organized a big party, they usually “forgot” to invite her. Understandably, this bothered Clara, because at school at least half of her classmates asked her to help them one way or another during the day. As soon as they’d finished, however, they were gone – and didn’t even want to talk to her.
And then when a group project came along, everybody would try to be in the same group with her but they wouldn’t do anything for the project, letting her to do everything but still getting a good grade. She still kept on helping them though, because she thought that one day they would see just how useful she was to them and never said “no”, but that day never came. In fact, the opposite happened – her classmates noticed and talked to her less and less.
Clara then thought to herself, “Maybe if I politely explain my point of view, they’ll understand!” So the next time the most popular guy in her class, Jack, asked her to do his homework for him, she said “hey Jack, I think you should try doing it yourself, because I don’t have time for it today.” She thought it would work, but he started trying to force her to do his homework for him by saying things like “come on, Clara, don’t be like that, we’re friends, right?” She wanted to say no, but instead, she ended up doing his homework for him.
She desperately wanted to stand up to them, she couldn’t go to a teacher, because that would mean she was a snitch. So she kept on doing tasks for them.
One day, they had a group assignment to do, and of course, Jack was the first to raise his hand to be with her – and Clara, again, couldn’t say no. It seemed that Jack assumed she would just do everything herself, so he didn’t even bother to talk to her about the assignment. But this time she really didn’t want to do all of the work, because she had a lot of other assignments, and well...it was meant to be done by two! So she texted Jack, because it was easier than talking to him in person. She said that he should do 50 percent of the work because she wouldn’t be able to do it alone. He texted “ok”, and she was happy.
But it turned out to be all a lie, because the next day he came up to her and said “hey, I’ve been really busy lately and I can’t work on the project, can you help?” At first I said “Jack, I'm also busy...”, but he kept saying “please, please” every time she objected, so she agreed. AGAIN!
Then, the next Friday evening, she saw Jack’s photos from social media, and he had been partying! And by that time she had already done her half of the project, and they had to present it by Tuesday, so she wrote to Jack that it was unfair to her and that he should finish his half. She then sent him what she had already done. He read the message but didn’t answer.
Monday came, and Jack told her: “sorry, I didn’t have any time to do the project, can you do it?” She really wanted to say yes, but she controlled herself and finally said “no”. He started to say that she had promised and that it wasn’t fair, and though it was scary, she managed to say “no” again! He then got angry and insulted her, but she just kept saying “no”. In the end, he said “you know that we’ll fail the project if you don’t do it?”, and she just said “yes”. Then when he walked away, he said once more that she ought to do it.
Tuesday came, and Clara hadn’t done Jack’s half out of principle, though he was really sure she had – although she didn’t understand why, because she had said “no” to him multiple times! She presented her half and Jack was sitting there, getting a bit nervous. She then said “now it’s Jack’s turn”. He got up to present, made a few sounds like “uhm...mmm…”. The teacher was looking at him, very annoyed, and some classmates who didn’t like Jack giggled.
They got a bad grade, but it was worth it, because Clara had finally stood up for herself and learned to say “no”. Jack was super angry at her, but some other guys and girls actually came to her and said that it was kinda cool (they realized she’d done it on purpose). It turned out that a lot of people disliked Jack, because he was very pushy and full of himself. After that, it was a bit easier to say “no” to others. She still helps those who appreciate it, but never people who treat her without any respect!
Music by Epidemic Sound: https://www.epidemicsound.com