It’s Okay To Say No
Rogers State University is always looking for new ways to connect students to opportunities that push us forward in our intended industries. The email I received from the school in February was no different. It was information about an internship opportunity, one called DC Live – Learn – Intern. For eight weeks I could live in Washington DC and attend classes at George Mason University. They would pair me with an internship that would help me gain connections and experience in the industry I hope to go into. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something for myself (which some people would say I don’t do nearly enough). So, I applied and I waited.
On March 2nd, I checked my email at work like I always do. This time there was an email from the internship that I applied for. I opened and read it at work that morning. That’s when I discovered that I had been accepted into the program. It also told me that I only had until the 15th to make the decision. Luckily, I was going to Tulsa and Owasso with my mom the day after I found out. I told her about the opportunity while she was going down the highway at 65 mph. My mom, grandma, and sister were so excited for me when I told them. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance and I needed to think about the decision carefully. They needed a decision so that we could pay the deposit.
For one week, I couldn’t think of anything but the internship. Do I want to go? Should I go? Am I too scared to go? So many questions were bouncing around my head. Everyone was encouraging me to take the chance if it was something that I wanted to do. I knew the benefits. I’d been keeping a pro/con list on my phone that never fell one way or the other. The decision was ultimately mine, even though I wanted someone else to make it for me. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance that I wouldn’t get to rethink. Once we paid the deposit, I would be going to Washington DC. That’s a big decision to ask someone to make in a week, but I did decide what I wanted to do.
I turned down my spot with the program. It’s so much easier to apply to something that challenges your comfort zone when you don’t think you’ll be accepted. This isn’t the first time that I’ve done this, either. I applied to four colleges during my senior year of high school, because I didn’t think I’d be accepted to three of them. For me, knowing that I can make the cut and decide what I want to do is enough. The internship was cool and would’ve been a great change of pace for me, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed it the way others would. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities don’t mean anything if they aren’t an opportunity that’s right for you.
There’s a reason why I’ve shared this story, even though it was my reality last week. I want people to understand that it’s okay to turn down an opportunity that others will see as once-in-a-lifetime. We all do enter into things that we don’t think we’ll win. It’s good to hope for something. At least, it’s fun until you find yourself having to make a difficult decision and don’t want to let anyone down when you decide. Your priority should be to take care of yourself. You know your limits. Ultimately, the decision is yours. There are things you don’t want to do. If someone disagrees, that’s a personal choice that they have to make. It doesn’t affect how you feel or what you decide.
It’s okay to say no.