You’re allowed to say no.
You’re allowed to say no to a job that leaves you feeling empty inside. You’re allowed to say no to the bigger office and the fatter paycheck, and not believe everyone when they tell you you’re crazy.
You’re allowed to say no when someone tells you to do something you don’t want to do. When there’s a conflict in your head, or your heart, or both.
You’re allowed to say no when he begs you to forgive him and forget. You’re allowed to say, no, it’s not okay. And to feel rage and a storm of sadness filling you up.
You’re allowed to say no to that hand resting on the small of your back, or that kiss that doesn’t feel right on your lips. Because you are not here for the enjoyment and pleasure of others.
You’re allowed to say no to pregnancy, when it unexpectedly comes knocking on your door. Because it’s your right to say no to a new life when you’re still making sense of yours.
You’re allowed to say no. To your husband, your kids, and your parents. Because despite what you may have been taught, what you want matters too.
And you’re allowed to say no to all of this without guilt. Without judging and second guessing yourself. Without feeling selfish. You’re allowed to say no, and still walk tall in this world. To feel brave like Athena, and powerful like the waves of the ocean.
Because this is who you are.
You’re allowed to say yes.
You’re allowed to say yes to that dream job you’ve always wanted, even though it’s on the other side of the world, and some don’t want you to go. Because you’re allowed to do things only for you sometimes.
You’re allowed to say yes to staying up till 2 a.m. giggling with your sisters, and sipping on Margaritas.
And you’re allowed to say yes to a warm blanket, a flask of hot jasmine tea, and an invite to sleep out underneath the stars all night.
You’re allowed to say yes to that date. To say yes to seeing him again, and opening your heart again. You’re allowed to say yes to a partnership, without thinking it makes you weak. Because the truth is, the right relationships makes you stronger.
You’re allowed to say yes to being a daughter, a mother, someone’s partner, and everything else in between. To say yes to starting your own business. To say yes to that promotion. And not feel forced to choose, either or.
You’re allowed to say yes to spending a year teaching in Tokyo, two months exploring and surfing in Bali, and a summer learning how to make delicious pasta and pizza in Italy.
You’re allowed to say yes to everything you’ve ever wanted. Without fear. Without worrying what other people might think or say. You’re allowed to fully step into it. With your whole heart, and a smile that lights up every crevice of your face.
And you’re allowed to enjoy it. Every second of it. Because this is your birthright.
You’re allowed to change your mind.
You’re allowed to change your mind when you’re sat down for dinner at a restaurant, and you feel like going someplace else. You’re allowed to stop eating that green salad mid-way through, and order the ice cream sundae your body is craving.
You’re allowed to change your mind when you reach 30, and switch careers. It’s okay if the 17 year old you wanted to study medicine, and the present you wants to sing and dance on Broadway. And it’s okay if you used to dream of working in fashion, only to finally get there and realise you don’t belong.
You’re allowed to change your mind in the middle of sex. Even though you said yes at first, or you didn’t say no; it’s okay to pause, find your voice, and speak up. Because you’re right to have boundaries and make them clear. And anyone who makes you feel small or not enough for doing so, does not deserve you in their world.
You’re allowed to change your mind, a year or ten into marriage. Saying the words, always and forever doesn’t mean you have to stay. Because sometimes people grow in different directions. Sometimes people remove their mask, and reveal their true colours. Sometimes you wake up to a life and realise it was never meant to be yours.
And it’s okay to leave. You’re allowed to fall out of love.
You’re allowed to fall in love, too. With the bright lights of the city one day, and long for acres of luscious green fields the next.
You’re allowed to date men today, and women tomorrow if you choose. And you’re allowed to enjoy casual sex to begin with, and later find out that you need and want so much more.
Because people evolve. We do more, and we learn more. We transform, and we expand.
So I want you to know you’re allowed to stop writing this chapter, whenever you choose.
And you’re allowed to start writing a new one.