• Hannah

how to say no.

Your University experience will throw plenty of scenarios at you where ‘no’ doesn’t seem like the feasible, fun option, but future-you will thank you for standing your ground and being true to yourself.



Peer pressure, the phrase etched into you from a young age as your parents warn you of the drug-pushers and the drunk boys wanting to take advantage of you. You’ve probably experienced societal pressures already - and if you haven’t then let’s have a coffee I just want to talk – but sometimes pressure can present itself in different ways.


When you reach university, most of us arrive with established likes and dislikes conceived during our teens, but university can open up new, unlocked doors for us that pose new situations, morals, and experiences that we cannot ascertain as likeable or not. Adding peer, societal or inner pressure on top creates a disconcerting scenario. ‘No’ should be a staple in your vocabulary. Being able to say it confidently, when required, reduces the chance of people walking over you and taking your kindness and willingness for granted.

Saying no is the easiest way to avoid damaging your university expectations and memories. You should be open to trying new things and opening up your eyes to new ways of thinking and living, however there are boundaries that your mind and body are aware you don’t want to cross. If your gut is telling you no, but your friends are chanting yes, listen to your self above all. The beauty of this unfamiliar freedom we get to experience at university is the ability to set your own rules and behaviours. You can say no to anything. You don’t have to shower everyday if you don’t want to – although please do.

Common pressures at university are the drinking alcohol, taking drugs, smoking-type behaviours, but other pressures can be things like, being persuaded to skip a lecture, spending money on takeaway, going out for the night, having people in your room. The term ‘pressure’ can be subjectively applied to each individual depending on your preconceived comfort level. If you hate it when people touch your belongings, you don’t have to let them in your room, just say no. If you don’t like people using your toilet during a house party, just say no. Your room, your things, your body, your mind, it’s all yours to choose what you do with.

Saying no can be difficult, especially when trying to integrate yourself and form friendships. It’s easy to become a ‘yes-man’ to please and impress those around you, or over fear of FOMO, so don’t panic if you find yourself at a barrier during the first few situations. If you struggle to stand your ground, use these tips to help you out:

practice in the mirror.

Yes it’ll look stupid and you might want to whisper if you have thin walls, but the more you say it, the more it’ll fall out your mouth with confidence. If you have a specific scenario in mind, elaborate further on why you aren’t willing, or don’t feel comfortable in participating. Please know that whatever you’re saying no to does not need an excuse or reason behind it, your feelings are valid whatever the situation and the explanation can be your own. However, if just saying the word ‘no’ is slightly jarring to you, try posing a statement that gets the point across more politely. If your housemates are going out for the 5th time in a row and you’re tired with a looming deadline, try “I would really love to come out with you but I’m just so tired I don’t think I’d be able to enjoy myself.'


start with the little things.

If you struggle saying no to small, menial things like declining another serving of food. Start implementing your ‘no’ or ‘no, I’m good, thanks’ tactic here as it’s less likely to illicit a negative response. Getting this type of reaction can then prepare you for a similar reaction – if they’re good friends – when you approach a more serious scenario.


recognise negativity.

Sometimes, your simple ‘no’ can cause a negative reaction in someone. If done in good humour or jest it can be brushed off, but when your no is questioned, pushed or rejected, then you may want to rethink how this friend is treating you. Friends should understand each other’s boundaries and perspectives. If they are ignoring your wishes and undermining your opinion, maybe you should consider the friendships longevity.