Meredith James: Right Word at the Right Time

Meredith James, Creative Writing Student

“And Meredith, saying no is not always the wrong thing. You need to live your life according to your terms.” 

Every teenager goes through one phase or another right? Technically in the eyes of the law I am an adult, and yet I do not feel like one at all. I wonder to myself, will I ever feel like an “adult?” Or what society perceives as an adult? Making adult purchases are still incredibly scary, and, heck, even filling my gas up in my car by myself feels awkward and uncomfortable. I was having a conversation with my mom about being a teenager and about being a woman in a competitive school setting. 

“You try and try, hoping to succeed, and it doesn’t work. It may scare you, but being assertive is not always the wrong thing,” my mom said to me. 

I was struggling with my own self-confidence, my work ethic and motivation. To make matters worse, I was being held accountable for one of my least liked personality traits. I am a people pleaser, and that is my downfall. 

“I know that people who care about me will know I have to do what is best for me, but learning to say no feels so difficult when it should be so easy,” I said exasperated. 

“And the people that don’t really know you may think you are selfish for prioritizing yourself over their needs. Those kind of people want you to be what they find comfortable,” my mom said, sitting with me on the edge of my bed. 

“It is never a bad thing to take care of yourself first. Like you always say, my darling daughter, you’re the most important person in your life.” 

I respond, “And I only get one trip around the sun, so I shouldn’t waste it worrying what other people think I am and should be.”

My mom nods and lets me lean into her shoulder. We share a quiet moment. Being a teenage girl really shouldn’t be all this hard, right? Well, if it is hard for you, like it is hard for me, you have my love. Growing up as a woman may seem impossible, but the love you have for yourself is the biggest defense you have. Use it well.