Boundaries: Learning to Say NO and Reclaiming Your Time

Not to say that I used to be the girl who tried to please everybody but I definitely had a fear of being a killjoy. Whenever my friends wanted to go out I’d say yes because hey, we’re all super busy and rarely have time to see each other so this is definitely necessary right? In trying not to be the killjoy I’d also end up spending more that I initially intended (every.single.time) because everybody’s having one more cocktail so I should definitely have one more too, right? No surprise here, my finances would suffer and this constant feeling of not getting what I want (like a camera which I’ve been trying to save for for years now) because I would always justify (or try to) that the money had to be spent.

At some point I realized this wasn’t the only place I was “trying to please”. There’s this unspoken understanding that nobody sleeps before midnight here in China/it’s OK to call or text someone whenever you want and I’d always feel bad if I didn’t respond to a text or if I got annoyed at someone for calling me after 11pm because hey, nobody sleeps before midnight right?

But after a while I realized that boundaries are necessary, with people, with behaviors, with money and they’re not only necessary but essential to people’s well being. Self love is all about accepting yourself and loving every bit of you and changing what you don’t like about yourself. It starts with you, it’s about you, but it doesn’t end with just you. Setting boundaries for yourself is an act of self love therefor the first person who has to respect the boundaries is you. If you’ve set a spending limit for going out with your friends one day, respect those limits. If you want to get enough sleep and that, to you, means being in bed by 10pm, respect that boundary. Turn off your phone, tell people not to call you after a certain time. The first and only person you are fully, 100%, undeniably responsible for is yourself and if you need a full nights sleep and calls after 10pm interfere with that then set a boundary and respect it.

At first it might seem like you’re trying to be snobby or full of rules but ultimately that’s not only good for you but for the people around you as well. Setting boundaries teaches people about a little something called respect. Respect for people’s beliefs, respect for people’s habits, respect for people’s time. When you call someone late at night, say 1am, unless you know for sure that person has a habit of being awake at 1am you’re totally disregarding the other person and thinking only of your “urgent” need to talk to them. Selfish much? When you invite someone to do something with you, a “right now” kind of activity, and that person tells you they’re busy with something it’s not your job to complain and insist when you know you gave no timely notice and maybe, just maybe, that person had scheduled whatever they’re busy doing in advance! So don’t be selfish and respect people’s time. Sure, spontaneity is cool once in a while and all of that depends on the type of relationship you have with the person in question but what I’m saying is it’s never your place to assume that that person has nothing else to do with their day.

I’m learning to slowly care for myself more and put myself first, because ultimately I have to be happy with the person I see in the mirror everyday and if saying no to what other people want at times will do that for me then they’ll just have to deal with it.


And that’s that for my little rant of sorts. What are your thoughts on this? Are there areas in your life where you feel your boundaries aren’t being respected? Do you have a story of how you dealt with people disregarding your time? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. I’ve had this experience. It’s funny, I hadn’t thought of boundaries this way before. For about a year, I hung out with a group of young, bubbly African women, and during that year, I spent a lot of time afraid of being a killjoy. Feeling bad declining a booze party with certain unsavory men, felt bad declining to be set up on “dates” with guys who didn’t match my values, and definitely felt bad wanting to go home by 11pm!

    Since then I’ve learned to be careful about spending anytime with friends who don’t respect my priorities. It does mean I have fewer friends. But the few I have are ones I actually like.


    1. Yes, definitely! Fewer friends but actual people who you enjoy spending time with and respect your boundaries. We shouldn´t feel obligated to do things we don´t want for the sake of “friendships” nor should we feel bad about it. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment!


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