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Sophie Jo Local Author - February/March 23

Coventry Author Releases Novel For Teens: The Nicest Girl

Kind was when I meant it. Nice was when I didn’t mean it but wasn’t sure I had the right to say so.”

Local author Sophie Jo’s debut teen fiction novel follows Anna, a 17-year-old self-professed people-pleaser. Anna’s the kind of girl who says yes to everything. The kind of girl who keeps her own feelings buried inside because everyone else comes first. But deep down, Anna's sick of being the nice girl. So now she's going to do something about it...

“Lots of us are exhausted from spreading ourselves too thin and never saying no – and as a teenager I found it even harder to prioritise myself,” says Sophie Jo. “People don’t really talk about how difficult it can be to balance your own feelings alongside everyone else’s at that age, so I wanted to explore it and delve into the complexities of setting boundaries with the people closest to you.”

Boundary-setting: What you need to know

Always griping about the “voluntary” overtime you’re guilt-tripped into taking on at work? Or maybe you’re at your wits end with a friend who spends hours venting about their problems without ever listening to yours?

Sounds like it’s time to start setting some boundaries.

For those not in the know, setting boundaries means identifying and communicating your own needs so that you can have the best possible relationships and interactions with other people. Here are some examples:

  • “I feel anxious when people drop round out of the blue – next time, please text first.”
  • “I won’t be checking my email after I finish work at 5.30pm anymore.”
  • “No thanks, I don’t drink alcohol.”
  • “I want to catch up, but I’m exhausted tonight, and I need time to relax. Can I call you back tomorrow at a time that works for us both?”

Beginning to set boundaries in your life can be tough, especially if you’ve never dipped a toe in the pool before. Here’s what you need to know:

The areas you complain about the most are often where you need to set better boundaries

Maybe you’re sick of being given overbearing, unwanted advice by your mum. Or you’re secretly resentful of your friend, who always seems to be the one calling the shots. Often, that anger is springing up because you feel someone is overstepping a line – and impinging on your boundaries.

Use ‘I’ Statements

Here’s a scenario: your disorganised friend asks last-minute if you’ll feed her cat again while she’s out of town – and you don’t want to. You tell her, “No, I won’t be around to take care of Mr Whiskers this weekend. I love your cat, but I need more notice. It’s important to me that my time is respected.”

Notice the lack of you statements, eg. “You always do this!” / “You need to plan better.” These can leave people feeling attacked and defensive. By using I statements, you’re taking responsibility for your own feelings, and you’re more likely to get the response you’re looking for.

You can’t control how someone responds to your boundary

The scariest part of stating a boundary is waiting to see how it’ll land with the people around you. Will they understand? Will they be offended? But remember, the way they respond is up to them. As long as your explanation has been respectful, their anger or disappointment is not on you to fix. Learning to sit with that discomfort is difficult, but helpful long-term.

Boundaries aren’t about keeping people out. They’re about keeping them in!

People don’t set boundaries because they want to end their relationship with another person. They set them because that relationship is important to them, and they want it to be healthy and resentment-free. The more you can remember this, the easier it’ll be to respond positively to other people’s boundaries – and stick to your own.

The Nicest Girl by Sophie Jo is available to purchase now (Amazon, WH Smith, Waterstones and independent bookshops) please visit sophiejowrites.com for more information.