In Defense of "No"

by Sarah Brown


I’ll set the scene.

You’re 18. You’re in high school. That inevitable question pops up… from teachers, from classmates, from parents of those classmates, from emails urging you to sign up for this scholarship or that scholarship, “What college are you going to?”

You’re 22. What college did you go to?

4 years later and this question seems to be as relevant as ever, at work, in normal conversation. I get it. It’s a way to connect! “You went there? So did I!” “That’s what I majored in too!” For 4 years, I’ve thought of every way to answer this question and I’ve experience every way to NOT answer this question.

“I’ve decided not to go, right now.”
“Oh, maybe later.”
“College is always there.”


This is in defense of no.

No, in itself, can trigger a lot of responses. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people tell you that I’ll change my mind or that it’s ok, for now. I’m here to tell you something that I tell every person that starts to explain themselves when they think that no is not enough. No, in it’s all vast 2 letters, is an answer. No explanation needed.

In truth, this is not to bash those that went, this is to give freedom to those that didn’t. The amount of times I’ve learned that people did not go, are largely due to when I confide in them that I didn’t go either because it’s a question we shy away from since we never know the response we’ll receive. Among many of the conversations I’ve had, I’ve heard about how people only went to please their parents and now there just figuring out what to do for themselves. I’ve heard things along the lines of how lucky I was to be able to make that decision for myself. I’ve heard the most of, I started and I didn't finish because it wasn't right for me. See a trend? We, as a society, tell others all the time that we should ‘live for ourselves’ and ‘love what you do’… but only for certain circumstances. Let me tell you, this is not one of those circumstances.

What happens when you start saying no? Nothing, maybe (more on that in a minute). That’s why we need to start saying it more. By being able to say ‘no’, I was able to say ‘yes’ to a lot more. To things that I actually wanted to do! Unimaginable, I know. Truly, though, in the last 4 years I’ve traveled more than I ever thought I would to: France, Iceland, Canada, Hawaii and more (and I didn’t have to use a study abroad program as an excuse).I’ve opened up in ways that a textbook could never teach. I’ve learned about community, business, and people all because I choose to work over being in school. I’ve been able to chase adventures that led me running down a highway at 1am through the backwoods of northern New Mexico (that is an entirely different story). I’ve ran countless races that I never thought I would be brave enough to run. I’ve thrown events for women in my community and found out I’m only just now learning to use my voice. I’ve learned that true love is that love that starts with yourself. All of this, because I said no when the majority of people in my life wanted me to say yes to 1 question. Does it isolate you? Yes, it can. Can it make you free? Yes, it can.

A degree might make you richer in knowledge but it does not make you superior and it’s time we start talking about that. College is not for everybody and, don’t be shocked, not everyone needs to go. Financially or mentally, it’s not the fix for your life that we are magically meant to think it is.  So here’s to you… if you went, if you didn’t. I hope you made that decision for yourself because you are the most important person you will ever come across.

To answer the question, no, I did not go and I’m not going.


Sarah is one of our amazing ambassadors, she is a runner, plant-based weight lifter, and professional dog-petter, you can follow her on Instagram 


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