We consider the word “No” predominantly as a symbol of self-respect and discipline, which is right. Most people think it’s a difficult word to vocalize but saying “Yes” is often harder than saying “No” because it’s a verbal devotion to be an active contributor. “No” easily transitions into a slippery slope of plans never fulfilled and good intentions never achieved. It gives the illusion of total empowerment, while it really acts as an excuse.
As I was born in Ngozi, a rural area of Burundi, I spent my childhood seeing people struggling every day to support their families. As an illiterate man, my father struggled for getting to get bank credits to run support his plans. Despite the situation, neighbors and friends showed their generous support incessantly. Giving each other a hand was common to everybody. Empathy was found in every family you would visited. Respecting and helping older people was taught to every kid from their a young age. After moving to the Capital city, Bujumbura, with my family at the age of 7, I found out that everything was totally different on the other side of the world. Saying “NO” was an art that most people mastered. An art that was applied anytime someone would come seeking for help or service unless if it comes came with benefits.
Learning English as my third language and adjusting to the ways of the city, I tried to blend in to the new community but one thing I couldn’t embrace was living my life selfishly. I kept the cultivation that my parents gave me and supplied my help to everybody with warmth until I found out that people were exploiting my kindness. After realizing that, I couldn’t help but feel dismayed but let dismay secure me and I decided to boost my self-respect as my friend always advocated me to: I joined the “No” language speakers. By doing so, I made many excuses and the main one was usually “No, I have a lot to do” as I had heard many others say. As time elapsed, my life became tedious because of the absence of new adventures.
However recently, in 2016, I was asked to join the charity club of the high school I attend. Then after giving it a thought, a question snapped in my head: Is this a good enough reason there a reason good enough to say “No”? At that moment, I perceived that, from the beginning, every choice I made was based on others’ opinions. It was time for me to give myself the right to choose. I understood that saying “yes” was not about sacrify sacrificing all our time to others or feeling pressured to do things we don’t want to do. It was about having the bravery and persuasion to do the things we know we really want to do. Sometimes, they scare us. This realization helped me to gain news experiences. Everything became an adventure and my life became more fun; I discovered what I really liked and what I don’t; my relationships grew stronger; I met new people from different backgrounds; I learned how to find solutions and became less afraid to try new things.
Helping others was my dedication since I was still young. It is just that most of us do it in the wrong way: We focus too much on others that we forget about ourselves. This diminishes our personal achievements and makes us less efficient of at helping others at a projected time.