Don’t Let Anyone Tell You That You Can’t … Actually, Go Ahead. Let Them.

There’s something powerful about the word “no.”


I am loosely classified into what many call Generation Snowflake.

Many of my peers, according to theories I won’t touch on this blog, to put it simply, take everything way too personally. This is the Me generation. Apparently, if you don’t agree with something, it means you have been personally attacked by someone who shares different views than you do – and you’re allowed to fight back. Especially with social media as your crutch.

This is the generation of Participation Trophies and Safe Spaces. Everyone expects special treatment, God knows why. Possibly the most unbearable thing I have had to deal with, as a millennial managing younger millennials, is the majority of people’s reactions to being told “no.”

Many of us grew up being told “No one is allowed to tell you that you can’t do something.” This is pretty nice advice, if you use it logically. Many Snowflakes don’t. They interpret this as, “If someone tells me ‘no,’ I have a right to argue until I either get my way or quit.'”

I’m speaking from a creative perspective here. I know of people, those I have attempted to teach and mentor in the past, who want to be writers, but cannot accept that their way is not always appropriate. Here’s how you succeed: you pick your ambition, you figure out what kind of work – what kind of EFFORT – you’re going to have to put into it, and you get out there and you DO.

If someone tells you no, you cannot get 300 hours of college credit for working less than 100 hours, it means no, you did not do 300 hours of work, stop asking for my signature and good luck at your Real Job. I am right, you are wrong, deal with it.

If someone tells you no, you cannot be a writer because [insert reason they think you’re not good enough], this is not a personal attack. This is not the time to fight that person to the death. This is the time to walk away, cut that person out of your life, and work so hard for so long that you actually DO become a writer – ha, ha, you told them so. Except you didn’t. You worked your way up to proving them wrong, without giving them the satisfaction of watching you struggle along the way.

Work. Effort. Focus. Patience. Discipline. The list goes on. These are all prerequisites for a successful creative career, and many of my fellow Snowflakes have no clue how to check any of this off of their untouched to-do lists.

As you’ve probably picked up, I don’t really fit in as a Snowflake. Not because I want to set myself apart and Be Unique, but because I figured out, very early on in my life – on my own – that crying and whining on social media gets you absolutely nowhere. Ever.

The thing is, you can’t control what other people say to you. People are going to criticize you, and reject you, and try to bring you down. Welcome to the Real World. If you want to let their negativity infect you, honestly, that’s your choice.

I will note that in some cases, for legitimate mental health reasons, it is very difficult for some people to ignore other people’s criticisms. I am one of those people. So I’m not saying you’re awful or worthless for struggling with this. For most of my life, psychologically, I could not very easily separate someone’s opinion of me from my opinion of myself.

However, I would not have achieved what I have at this point in my life if I had continued to let that non-controllable impulse drag me down. I learned how to silence those thoughts, and so can you – by letting a “no” motivate you to create your own “yes.” By NOT TAKING EVERYTHING PERSONALLY.

Rejection is never personal, and is always about the other person’s needs above yours. Always. Actually, people CAN, and WILL, tell you that you are incapable of doing something. In fact, they SHOULD. How else do you learn to go after what you want (the right way) despite other people’s opinions?

There’s a difference between being told “you’re doomed” and “you’re wrong.” If someone older than you tells you that you’re doomed, you’re probably not. If you’re wrong – you’re probably actually wrong, and need to stop expecting everyone to bend the rules to accommodate you.

This post turned into something way different than I intended, but for all my fellow Snowflakes: good luck. Whether you’re on my side of the line or not, prepare to work harder than you ever have before to achieve your goals. For everyone who goes through life being handed everything we’ve worked ourselves to exhaustion for … I don’t know. I hope you’re proud of yourselves, I guess.

And of course, if you feel Personally Offended by what I have written here, go ahead, tell me so. I would expect nothing less.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

6 thoughts on “Don’t Let Anyone Tell You That You Can’t … Actually, Go Ahead. Let Them.

  1. Thanks, Meg! Honest, practical, straightforward, and with some “tough love” perspective that many folks may need to receive. Millennials often get a bum rap for this, but there is a reason it has become a stereotype, too. Whatever it is you want, count on working toward it. You can treat the gift of talent, opportunity, or privilege as a bonus, but you can’t reach and sustain success without the work.

  2. Thank you for sharing. As a millennial myself, it hurts me to admit that the stereotype is predominately true. It is taking young people longer to figure their lives out. But on the other hand, it is good to remember and appreciate those who are dedicated to working hard and keeping their lives in perspective. Because they do exist! Rare though they may be

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