Nine Things We Don’t Owe Anybody

Nine things we don't owe anyone

I often see inspirational blog posts, memes and quotes that focus on the idea of teaching the younger generation about life. Lots of these appear to have the same message: nobody owes you anything. What you gain from life will be achieved by the hard work and effort that you put into it. While it isn’t strictly true (and I have seen and read countless examples of evidence to show that luck, being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people can sometimes play a part in success), I like the sentiment.

However, what doesn’t appear to be as widely discussed is what we don’t owe to anyone else. In life we surround ourselves with those that matter to us the most, and it often seems like these people have an opinion on what we do and how we do it, leading us to falsely believe that we owe them certain behaviours and justifications. In truth, here are the things that in fact we don’t owe anyone.

1. We don’t owe anyone a favour. It’s one of my biggest annoyances – wanting to help someone should come from kindness, not obligation.

2. We don’t owe apologies if they are not genuine. An apology given when we are not ready to move on will only temporarily heal the wounds – anger towards someone will usually resurface and will usually cause greater harm in the long term. Apologies should be given when the issue has been resolved in our own minds.

3. We don’t owe somebody a romantic relationship or friendship. It took me a long time to realise that these cannot be simply based around the ideas of familiarity and the fact that you may have known each other for a long time. People change, their priorities and outlook on life change and, as sad as it may seem, time spent with somebody who isn’t the person that you used to know is time that is wasted.


4. We don’t owe somebody our time just because they have requested it. This sounds incredibly harsh, and obviously doesn’t apply to the workplace (can you imagine the response you’d get if you said this to your boss?!) but in your personal life you don’t have to see or spend time with somebody if you don’t wish to. You don’t have to accept a date just because you have been asked. Similarly, if you have been on a date and have decided that you don’t wish to see the person again, you have every right to politely and gently let them down without feeling guilty and worrying about repercussions. If the person reacts in an hostile manner, you clearly made the right choice in the first place.

5. On a darker note, we don’t owe anyone a physical relationship. There are no circumstances  that can justify becoming involved physically with somebody if you don’t want to. They may be the nicest, sweetest person in the world and they may have helped you, consoled you, guided you and listened to you, but the answer is always the same. You don’t owe anyone a physical relationship at any time, for any reason.

6. We don’t owe anyone a new experience. My friends and I know each others likes and dislikes, and we don’t get offended when one of us responds with ‘it’s not really my thing, but thanks anyway!’  Of course, this doesn’t apply if a friend asks you to support them in something that they are doing personally – I’ve seen friends perform in comedy clubs, ice hockey matches and fashion shows – but you don’t have to attend events that your friends are ‘trying out’ if you know that it is something you aren’t going to be interested in.

image7. We don’t owe anyone ‘just one more…’ or ‘just try this…’ or ‘yes.’ One of my biggest annoyances is when I have decided that I have had enough to drink and there is always that one person who wants me to have just one more. I used to give in after several pleas and have another one just to shut them up, but now I politely decline until they give up. This doesn’t just apply to drinking – it can be in every aspect of life and covers both big or small issues (a rather silly memory that I have is being hassled for nearly two hours at a party to try food that I knew I wouldn’t like as I’ve had it before – I eventually gave in, tried it and hated it, and was then annoyed at both her and myself for allowing myself to be pressured into doing something, however trivial, that I didn’t want to do) – that one more anything shouldn’t have to be forced upon you and you don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do, especially if you know that you’ve had enough.

8. We don’t owe anyone the perfectly groomed version of ourselves. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the only opinion on the way that we look that should matter is our own. We shouldn’t have to dress in a certain way, wear the popular labels, be a certain size and present ourselves for the benefit of our friends and partners. At the weekends I spend my time make-up free and wearing hooded sweaters and jeans. Several of my friends are flawless and immaculate at all times. We have never explained ourselves for this, it is just accepted without question.

9. We don’t owe anyone our life story or our secrets. If you don’t want to talk about something personal, you don’t have to, even if a friend has asked. And, to be fair, a genuine friend would not push you to if you weren’t comfortable.

When it comes to life and relationships it is always important to be kind, supportive and genuine. Help others, be there for others, but do so because you want to, not because you feel that you owe them something. And when life requires an explanation, one that should be offered a little more is simply this, offered by the late, great Maya Angelou:

‘You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove’

What about you? Have you ever been made to feel that you ‘owe’ somebody?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to visit my Facebook page and give it a cheeky ‘like.’

211 thoughts on “Nine Things We Don’t Owe Anybody

  1. Pingback: Blogs To Watch In 2015 - North & South NomadsNorth & South Nomads

  2. Such a thoughtful post, and on a topic I think of often in recent years. We should never apologize for being who we are — that’s my main takeaway from so much thinking. 🙂 Fun to find your blog!

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  4. Love this! I have spent too much time in the past trying to please others somehow and often felt I owed people an explanation for even the smallest thing. Not anymore! I live my life on my terms and to hell with anyone who disagrees or criticizes.

  5. I may print it out and give it to my parents, who still expect me to justify every single one of my choices that doesn’t fit in with their expectations… and I’m no spring chicken!

  6. Very insightful post! Especially regarding apologies, I apologize only for wrongs I have truly committed. When you apologize for something you didn’t really do “just to keep the peace” then you drift into a territory of reinforcing others’ insecurities at the expense of your own principles. These soul-sucking people are then conditioned into a cycle of seeking affirmation by guilt-tripping everyone around them. One additional item that could be on your list is “It’s not someone else’s job to soothe all your disappointments by accepting blame for them.”

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  8. This post really speaks to me, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot in recent years. It’s an important idea and I think women especially are under a lot of pressure to be a “nice lady” and constantly support others, even at our own expense… otherwise we are a “bitch” or “self centred”… rather than “self-caring”.
    Thanks for writing this!

  9. I love this so much! I completely agree with #8 and I’m working on #1. Luckily, I am able to stop myself before I start explaining nowadays.

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  12. that is a powerful blog post, well done! I could not agree with you more, and sometimes it just needs to be spelled out what “You don’t owe anything anything” means. I love it!

  13. There are some great truths there in that Suzie. That one about about stopping the drinks can be particularly important as the consequences of getting druk can be devastating for both men and women. We’ve just had a case through the courts where a young man who was king hit died and another young man is off to jail. I don’t believe the victim was drunk and it’s quite probable that the perp is an average guy who got carried away and his life has changed forever too.

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  15. Yes 3,5,7,9 especially yes. So much yes I’m tweeting this. Controlling, critical people have no business in our lives. People think I’m mean when I say I’m not interested. I’d be more offended by someone who led me on.

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  17. This whole post is something I’ve only really begun to learn in the last year. It took me so long, but I’m so glad I know now. I think 4 & 5 are so important, personally, I’ve had so many of my male friends demand more than a friendship just because we are close, despite me telling them I’m not interested. I can’t stand the feeling of being pressured into something I want no part in. I also like 6 very much! I’m not always one for trying new experiences so sometimes I feel bad if a friend wants to do something and I don’t, but it’s not really that big a deal and most people are understanding anyway. I love the Maya Angelou quote at the end – very fitting.

    Amanda Jayne | beauty, style, travel, life

  18. I love #3 and #4 – I’ve learned that friendships come and go and that’s okay & I’ve also learned that my time is valuable and if I don’t want to do something then it’s okay to just say “no” and stay home 🙂 Great list Suzie x Leanne @ cresting the hill

  19. YES to all of this! I’ve struggled with many of these, but the older I get the more I realize it is okay to say NO – without justification.

    • Yes to no haha! It took me a long time that you don’t need to justify or explain yourself to anyone – a true friend wouldn’t require an explanation anyway…

  20. I Love this list. The thank you notes and grooming are things I have gotten rid of with glee. If I want to express true appreciation I will, I won’t even be able to stop it. Rote notes without sentiment waste everyone’s time…and I don’t need to give anyone my time if I don’t want to….thank you for this!

  21. Very insightful & well said. On no 7 – I don’t drink at all & people are terrible with that. It really annoys me. People think they have the right to try to pressure you or insult you, and I don’t get what it has to do with anyone or why it matters. Do people really need everyone to be drinking like they are that desperately? Obviously, I never do drink just because people think I should, but it is irritating.

    • It’s so strange how people seem to take offense at those who don’t drink… The Bloke doesn’t drink, and while our friends and family don’t have an issue, I have experienced a reaction from others on a number of occasions

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  24. I love the one about how we don’t owe anybody our time. I learned this just a year or so ago. Time is fleeting, and life precious, I don’t waste my time on people who don’t deserve it anymore. Harsh, but true. (Also, this post definitely doesn’t need that much more love. Damn, mama! You get it! 😚)

  25. This list is so spot on! Especially the one about apologising. When you put your foot down on no apologies, it is sometimes taken for arrogance. There’s so much rules and expectations for you because you are educated. Sigh! I just let Peace reign sometimes even though I know i don’t owe anyone

  26. This is so important to remember – that we owe people nothing. No.7 particularly resonates with me. When I was trying to quit smoking (succeeded in the end) and cut down on my drinking (also managed it!) the people around me were trying to convince me that to have ‘just one more’ was okay. But I found that this was more about their own ‘uncomfortableness’ with me changing. For some people, they need others around them to be doing the things they like doing as a way of justifying that it’s okay, if that makes sense.

    I love the quote from Maya Angelou that we are ‘enough’. it’s so easy to forget that 🙂

  27. Oh that person who bullies you into getting another drink…. and even worse when the people who decided they had also had enough but they starting folding around you and now it’s YOU that’s the only one who is saying NO!

    Hate these idiots

  28. I absolutely agree with all of these Suzie. I’m getting better at no7, but the amount of times in the past has really pissed me off. I never get why someone would want to enforce something on someone…though having said that I may be guilty of persuading people to stay for another drink!

  29. Number 4 shouts out at me, my sister takes my time for granted sometimes and it’s so hard to say no

  30. I honestly think this is my favorite post by you. There are so many people I would love to read this!

    One thing that stuck with me was the “we don’t owe anyone our time” Afreakenmen to that. I have been made to feel guilty about this my crappy ex-friends in my life and I am so glad that you wrote it here. Knowing I’m. It alone in that thought is an awesome feeling.

    Our lives are precious and spending time with people should be for the right reasons. Cheers!

  31. I have felt that constantly. It has taken me a long time to realise that I don’t owe anyone anything!
    I have always been so eager to please that I almost took on the demeanour of a doormat. Getting used and taken advantage of because I was always saying “Yes” and “ok”. It took stepping back and looking at not only myself but my own family to see how we had been brought up with parents who did everything to help and please others. My own parents realised late in their life how their thinking that they owed many people had led to them losing out on so much other quality time with their own kids, that they started to step back, and say no to things. It’s taken my Pops longer, as he has always felt he owed his family a lot, as his parents passed away and he was brought up by his brother. He tried to do everything for his siblings and their families over the years, with little gratitude.
    So now we all chill, look at our immediate family first.
    And I’ve become better at feeling more my own person too.
    Great post Suzie 🙂

  32. Wise words! I agree wholeheartedly with these points and love that you have articulated them so well. Being kind because we want to be not because we feel we should be, is something everyone should aspire to.

  33. Absolutely brilliant. Reading through these (especially point 7) made me realise how much I don’t get on with pushy people – it’s the main personality type that I can’t get along with.

  34. That’s a great summary ! I never understood n°7 though, why would anyone want someone else to drink more ? How does it affect them in any way ? I’m clueless about their motivations.
    I’ve had a similar situation with my old friends though, when they started to take some illegal stuff. I said I did not want to do as them, and they asked when did I became so old. Now I don’t see them that often anymore, for obvious reasons 🙂

    • I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve been pressured into doing drugs, but some of my friends find it difficult to accept it when I say no to another drink…

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