Banishing the Teenage Habits I’ve Long Outgrown

This blog was written by Rachael Heffernan, writer and researcher for The Drawing Board.

I have to give my teenage self a lot of credit. I might have been a furious school-hating punk-kid wannabe, but I made conscious choices, got good grades, saved up a ton of money and cultivated friendships that I still enjoy today.

When I was a teenager I had some of my first opportunities to be real-world independent. I got to drive a car by myself. I had a job. I planned events without telling my parents until a dozen people were standing at the door. It was awesome.

But it also got me into some pretty bad habits. Specifically, it got me saying “no.”

No, I don’t want to go to that party. No, I don’t want to go shopping. No, no, no, no.

It’s not that I never said “yes.” And it’s not that I didn’t say “no” before – any parent of a toddler will tell you that saying “no” doesn’t start when kids turn 13. It’s that when I said “no,” “no” happened. I didn’t go to the party. I didn’t go shopping. I was the master of my own fate. Again, it was awesome.


Awesome, that is, until I found myself sitting on the couch with absolutely nothing that I wanted to do.

I have outgrown the situation where “no” can be said all the time without consequences. I am no longer in an environment where auditioning for a musical and trying out for a sports team take place in the same hallway. I can, if I so choose, spend my hours whittling away in front of a TV without nary a comment from any authority figure. But I don’t want to do that.

Yet I find myself saying “no.” I’m at the point where I can’t even resolve to say “yes” anymore, because if I stand by and wait for opportunities to come my way I’ll die sitting on my couch watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy.


I’m at a place in my life where I need to re-harness the power of my independence – not through saying no, but by rediscovering that joy that came on my first drive by myself. My first cottage weekend without adult supervision. My first kitchen takeover.

I need to go on adventures. I need to pursue projects.

And I need to get up early in the morning so that I can get all that adult stuff done. You know, all the working, dog walking, laundry, grocery, sheet-changing to do lists that I currently space out so that I can spend vast amounts of time doing things I hate in order to procrastinate? Yeah, I need to get that stuff done so that I don’t have a life of “no.” I want a life of “yes,” “on my way,” “can’t wait,” and “let’s go!” – and I’m the only person that’s going to give it to me.

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