The Art of Saying No

9:52 PM

I'd like report a failure that may be my biggest success of the semester: I'm quitting my Greek class.

I don't quit things, not when it comes to school. Sure, I'll avoid things that historically bring me down, but I don't quit in the middle. I stick them out no matter how stressed and sleep-deprived I get.

Not even a week into classes, I was drowning with Greek homework. I logged seven hours over the weekend trying to master first declension nouns. I did nothing but Greek and thinking about Greek and wanting to procrastinate on Greek. I got out of class dreading Greek homework. It freaked me out to do other homework lest that take time away from studying Greek.

I came into this semester the only senior on campus thrilled to start her school year. A day later, I wanted to quit everything all together.

"I want to drop this class," I started saying wistfully, as if I couldn't.

"Drop the class," my boyfriend told me.

"Drop the class," my housemate told me.

"Drop the class," my good friend told me.

"Noooo! You need to teach me Greek!" my roommate told me.

"I'm not a quitter," I argued. "I can't drop it. And I just went into my professor's office and badly pronounced Greek words. I set up an appointment in the next few days to check my progress. He told me to channel my inner bride of Frankenstein to hiss the chi correctly. I can't quit after all this effort!"

"You can drop the class," my housemate reminded me. "Drop the class."

Imperatives weren't what changed my mind. Stress wasn't what changed my mind. Ironically, a request for babysitting changed my mind. A professor emailed me to ask if I wanted to babysit his two boys for an hour. I said yes, knowing I had no time to actually do it. This rebel within me (maybe the bride of Frankenstein, after all) stood up and yelled, "Then get rid of the things you don't want to do and do the things you want to do!"

And that surprised me -- I wanted badly to babysit. I wanted to serve in this way. Actually, I wanted to do a lot of things -- I wanted to read more, write more, throw myself into music, editing, philosophy, and my thesis. That's why I was at school, to have fabulous conversations, read good books, and not spend my weekends declining Greek nouns. And babysitting. Who knew I would ever want to babysit?

So at 8:30 AM, I'm shamefacedly handing my professor a drop card and avoiding the despairing looks of my friends in class. I'm dropping the class, because perfection in a nonessential area is not worth killing delight in an essential area -- an area that opens up a space to explore goodness and beauty. I'm not quitting anything but busywork and stress.

Now excuse me while I go read Aquinas.

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20 impressions

  1. Good for you!

    Sometimes it can be hard to let go of things like that. You keep telling yourself that you have to keep going, but if it's not necessary and you don't want to do it...why do it?

    I'm sure I have/have had something in my life that's like this-but I can't think of it right now, and I don't feel like waiting to think of anything before hitting "publish". #itstoolatetocare

  2. Sounds like you did the right thing. I know you wouldn't drop a class unless you thought it through thoroughly, and it sounds like this one was tipping the scales way off! Love ya!

  3. That was a dramatic decision that I still approve 100 percent. You don't need Greek and you'd forget it the week after you graduate. So. ;) While my quitting calculus wasn't as coolio, I still understand the inner pain of admitting stupidity to a subject. But I'm not quite sure about quitting it to babysit. However, you made the right choice and now we can skype and I'll show you my infected thumb!!!!!!!

  4. I think you made the right choice. Good job figuring it out so quickly so you could drop relatively painlessly - no incomplete on your transcript I'm assuming.

    I hardly think this even counts as quitting. For the first week all college classes are attended on a trial basis in my opinion. ;-)


    1. Yep, it's just a cancel -- nothing will show up on my transcript!

  5. Greek is tricksy. You think, "oh there's so many English words that come from Greek, and the alphabet is pretty, and I can read the Bible in the original language and it'll be great!" and then classes start and you're all like "What is this foul grammatical incomprehensibility!?!?!"

    In other words, I took Greek my senior year and got stuck on declensions too. I did finish the class, but only because we had mandatory weekly study groups. My group included a rather cute guy who worked summers as an Elvis impersonator. :)

  6. I think that the option to drop classes is one of the cool--and anxious--parts of college. Homeschooling didn't let you drop classes....or skip classes...but I guess you could procrastinate more? I should stop procrastinating and work on my homework. #thestruggleisreal
    By the way, your blog is pretty rad. :)

    1. Thanks, Gabrielle! Yeah....lots of procrastination can happen....not that I know from experience or anything. ;) I do love that I could drop the course, even though I've never dropped a course EVER. O.o

  7. Congratulations! (Weird to say for a cancelled class, but in this case I think it's deserved.)

    Do you have to take a different foreign language/some other class to replace it? At my school, it's hard to drop something and stay in the right number of credit hours.


    1. I already took Spanish as my foreign language, so Greek was just for fun. It was a four credit course, though, so it dropped me down to twelve credits -- the bare minimum for enrollment.

  8. I can relate to this so much. I hate quitting things, especially school related, even though I know that I'm really not disappointing anyone by quitting those non-essentials. Thank you so much for this.

  9. I think one rule in life is do more of what you love. Brave and clever girl...sometimes we all need to say NO!

  10. Bailey, I've tried to find your email, and I guess my anti-technology personality hindered me and I tried to no avail. :)
    So I'm asking here, though it's the kind of question that implies a lengthy and complex answer. In a nutshell, I am in a season in my life when I am trying to define for myself what I believe and why I believe. And I have no idea where to start with that endeavour. So I was wondering if you could point me to some resources both as far as fundamental beliefs are concerned (e.g. salvation) and debatable ones (like church systems, for example).

    Thanks a lot.

    1. Hi, friend. What a great, hard question! Shoot me an email at and I'll get back to you. :)

  11. Hey Bailey! I thought of you today and hoped your classes are going well! Blessings to you!!

    ~ Vicki

  12. Cheers for saying "no" when you need to! I wish I had, earlier in this dance semester, because what used to be a favorite hobby of mine is currently causing a lot more pain and problems than good. Unfortunately, I can't back out now (recital is in a handful of weeks!) but I've learned this the hard way. We need to know our own boundaries, and respect them. :P

  13. Hey lady!

    Just a note to say that I miss you're outrageous self + all of the words you write.



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