Dear Miss Informed,
How should I say no to my friends when they are asking me for rides or to take them places when they don’t offer anything in return, i.e. gas money?
I know how hard it is to say “no” to the people we care about. We want to do anything for them, sometimes at our own cost.
However, any relationship should be a two-way street. If one friend is always asking for rides and never paying additional gas money, you feel that your only value in the relationship is what you contribute, not who you are.
The most important thing to establish is boundaries. Some boundaries will impose themselves automatically — you may not have time, money or energy to do the things that are requested of you, and in that moment, respectfully letting them know that you can’t do what they want is the only choice available.
It isn’t your job to keep running until you are out of resources to give to others. You only have a finite amount of time, money and energy, so you should have boundaries set for yourself.
Essentially, if the relationship is a healthy one and you would like to maintain it, it might be worth a difficult conversation. If the relationship is not as close or this person is intentionally using up your time and energy, you don’t need to explain why you feel the way you do, you just need to be civil in your refusal.
If the latter case is true, a simple “I can’t do that right now, thank you for asking” is just fine. You don’t owe them an apology — a lesson I know many of us could take to heart. Don’t be sorry for someone else’s circumstances you didn’t cause and can’t do anything about.
If the former case is true, work within whatever boundaries you have already established. Ask to talk to them at a time when you know they will be in a decent headspace to receive feedback. Let’s say a close friend keeps asking you for rides and never offering gas money. Don’t let your frustration bubble and spring it on them when you can’t take it any longer. Ask them to sit and talk to you, and clearly articulate the problem and how you feel about it.
You could say: “When you ask for rides and never offer to pay me gas money, you aren’t considering that I have places to be and how expensive gas is. That makes me feel like you care more about what I can do for you than just spending time with me.”
A good friend will be receptive to feedback and although their perspective may be different, they will be willing to work toward common ground with you. A bad friend will turn around with more accusations and try to pin the guilt on you. Stick to your gut. If this person is not remotely receptive to your request, maybe you should stop spending time with them.
When you have these conversations, DON’T BE MANIPULATIVE — be clear and straightforward. Don’t guilt them into changing their behavior. Be honest and grounded, but flexible. Your feelings are valid, but so are theirs. Tell them what you feel, give them a chance to respond and be willing to work toward a common goal that will support you both.
Best of luck,
Dear Miss Informed,
How do I stop sleeping in? I set a few alarms every morning, but I can’t help but fall into my same routine.
Dear Sleepy Student,
This is a tough one! I know I struggle with it.
So much of a healthy sleep schedule involves listening to your body. Some people are more productive at night, and some are more productive during the day. I have found that when my body feels the healthiest, I tend to wake up naturally around 7 a.m., but I enjoy late nights, too!
According to Cornell Health, traditionally aged college students need “seven to nine hours of sleep in order to avoid daytime drowsiness (inability to concentrate or remember and slowed reaction time), altered mood states (anxiety, irritability, and depression), weight gain, poor health, and low energy.”
Early risers need to go to bed earlier, and night owls need to wake up later. Eventually, you can train your body around what it needs already, and your schedule will work for you.
Think about this as you register for classes. If it’s possible to avoid a 9:25 a.m. class, do it. If not, do everything you can to go to bed earlier. Let’s say class is in Columbine, and you live in a dorm right next door.
You need about five minutes to get to the building, and let’s say another five to get to the classroom, get water, use the restroom or just collect yourself. That means you need to leave your room at about 9:15 a.m. Depending on your morning routine, you may need to wake up at 8:30 a.m. That gives you 45 minutes to get oriented.
If you want to wake up at 8:30 a.m., the latest you should be going to bed is 1:30 a.m., and realistically, you should be aiming for 11:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. That’s eight and a half to nine hours of sleep.
There’s also a phenomenon called Revenge Bedtime Procrastination, which the Sleep Foundation describes as “the decision to sacrifice sleep for leisure time that is driven by a daily schedule lacking in free time.” I’m certainly guilty of this, and one thing that has helped me to shift that perspective is considering the benefit of things I do during the day.
For instance, I take classes for my own gain and go to work to make money. These are things that, while I require them for my life and future success, I do because I choose to. I can be angry that the world requires them of me and put off my own health in irritation, or I can remember that I will enjoy work and school so much more if I’m not acting like a sleep-deprived bear the entire time I have them.
If you can take advantage of the privilege of sleep, do it. Your mind, body and soul will thank you, and so will the people around you. A healthy sleep schedule will have you waking up with your alarm instead of silencing it.
Oh also, EAT BREAKFAST! Your body needs energy so badly when you wake up. You will be so much less sleepy if you supplement the energy you just gained from resting with food.