“Yes people”, and learning to say “no”

Dear Taipei,

What’s your view on Yes people?

I don’t mean a “yes man” that blindly- and often to their detriment- says yes to every single favour and thing someone asks from them. I am referring to those people who say “yes” to any social invitation they receive (within reason). Want to hit the clubs Friday and Saturday? Yes. Want to have lunch with my cousin?… He is super awkward and will stare at you, by the way. Sure, sounds hilarious. Want to go hiking tomorrow? It’ll be with a big bunch of people I just met and you’ll have to wake at 5 am. Yeah, why not? Sign me up! Yes. Yes. Yes. 

I think I used to be a very firm Yes person. Always a packed schedule, sometimes I’d have three or more events in the one day, or see multiple people one after the other. It was fun, but exhausting. And then slowly but surely, I somehow transitioned to become a Yes When I Feel Like It person.

Now, I think I deviate between the two extremes of going out very frequently after saying yes to most things (perhaps too much), and experiencing lulls in my social life because I start saying more “no’s” than “yeses” (probably because I’m recovering from all those “yeses”).

Yesterday, my new housemate commented that she thinks I’m a homebody. A homebody. Me? I was completely taken aback. Shocked even. I had never been referred to as a homebody before. In fact, I am often referred to as the complete opposite. As much as the term makes me cringe, people quite often tell me what a “social butterfly” they think I am- even within minutes of knowing me (seriously, can someone come up with a less painful term please?).


It wasn’t the label itself that niggled at me- there’s of course nothing wrong with preferring to spend more nights in than out. But it’s just that it wasn’t a characteristic that I’d ever associated myself with. Whilst lately I’ve been trying be more comfortable doing things alone, I still consider myself a primarily social person.

When I retreated back to my room (oh the irony!), I had a  good think about what she said. Even my rather defensive reaction was interesting to reflect on. What exactly had I been defensive against? My characterisation as a homebody was her impression of me after having lived together for a month, so it wasn’t without reason.

As I reflected on the past month, it became uncomfortably clear where she was coming from. I had been at home a lot more than usual. I had been saying a lot of “no’s” where I might had once said “yes”. I had been relieved to spend nights in. Most notably, I had been feeling more lonely and isolated than usual.

Looking at my discoveries in writing, it could seem this “state” of mine of mine stemmed chiefly from my own choice to “be a homebody”. had been the one saying no. I had been the one preferring to spend a night in. had been the one to choose to be alone.

So that I am the cause of all this is true to an extent. However, what doesn’t make sense is that I even if I am spending more time in my house than usual as of late, I am still going out constantly, meeting different friends nearly every day, discovering new places, going to events- and even yesterday when the comment was made, I had been out from morning til evening.

I guess whereas in the past I would give no second though to constantly going out from day to night, now I just do either or. Instead of thinking there was nothing worse than being locked indoors, I relish the time to chill in my pajamas. Maybe I’m realising that I can’t keep pushing myself- and nor do I want to. I used to think I “had” to say yes to everything- lest I “miss out” and regret my absence (yes, a more eloquent way of saying FOMO).

I would be constantly exhausted, going from school, work, study, friends, some random event on a cycle without a pause. Before, I never wanted to rest with that feeling of “being lonely”, but now I don’t think it’s such a bad thing from time to time. The feeling of loneliness is one which we all feel from time to time, and I think it’s about time we stop being ashamed to even talk about it.

I know a big part of this is circumstantial as well. A lot of my really close friends have recently left and they were a big part of my social life, and in fact, my identity here. In response, lately I’ve been trying to be more proactive meeting new people, reconnecting with acquaintances, and of course catching up with my good friends who are still here as well. It’s been exciting as I truly love meeting new people and that thrilling transition of stranger, to acquaintance, to friend and if you’re lucky, a lifelong friend.

But even so, something feels different and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s that I feel now, being in my mid-20’s, that I don’t owe my “yes” to anyone. Even myself. That is not to say that I want to become a social hermit. I just don’t think that I need to do anything my heart is not into when I could just be at home instead, relaxing (and often, recuperating). Maybe it’s that I realise that I truly value quality smaller group or one-on-one catch ups, over mass ones where you can’t remember what was said the next day. That’s not to say I don’t love to go out- I still do and you won’t find anyone more eager to hit the dance floor with their lack of skills than me.

It’s just that I feel more comfortable now not saying yes, and not feeling guilty about it. If I want to spend a night at home and laze around in my pajamas, write a bit, drink tea, listen to music and watch TED talks, read about social issues/politics/people’s lives around the world, reply to the insurmountable load of messages from friends at home and abroad, that is completely OK.

Oh, maybe this is all is a reflection what you’d call a homebody. At least a part-time one. How this transition happened, I’m not sure, but regardless, perhaps I should just accept it.

Before I ramble anymore, I have to go now to a lunch with a friend. But when the night takes over, I’ll be back here, again, to embrace that homebody part of me.


Tell me in the comments below what you consider yourself to be, and whether that’s different from what others think. Do you think it’s ok to say “no”, or do you think you’ll never regret saying “yes”? Share anything that struck you! Would love to hear your thoughts!



  1. Step 1: denial. Step 2: acceptance. You’re well on your way! =D


  2. Only two steps? You gave me the easy way out! 😛 Thanks for the encouragement Skyline, much appreciated!


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