My first semester at BYU-Idaho, I only had two great friends here who I knew from back home. This fueled my eagerness to create as many friendships as I could and be the best student, driving me to do everything I possibly could.

Seventeen credits? No biggie. Join the newspaper? Of course. Attend each and every party and social gathering my roommates and I received invites to? Absolutely yes.

My first semesters, while definitely memorable, wore me out. As I continue with my education and college experiences, I have come to realize the best thing in my life isn’t quantity of friends or classes I have, but quality.

Cheesy and revolutionary, I know.

This concept really came through one spring semester. I am awarded an academic scholarship that requires a minimum of 14 credits a semester, and at the time, I had a new position at Scroll.

Between work and school, I told a particular group of friends that I couldn’t spend as much time just hanging out every day, but I still loved them; I just have a scholarship to keep and bills to pay.

While I made an effort to keep in contact and in the circle as much as I could, I quickly found out many of them no longer felt the need to have me around as their friend.

Mixed feelings of anger and sadness seeped in. I thought these people actually cared and wouldn’t let my full semester and some time apart result in me being completely alienated.

My roommate Olivia reminded me how much I loved my new job, how well my classes were going and that she was there for me. Olivia is a quality friend. While I lost nearly an entire friend group, I discovered that numbers absolutely didn’t matter.

After that semester, I found myself putting time into relationships that motivated me and classes that inspired me. I found passion in creating work that made me proud. My friends rooted for me and took an interest in the things that kept me busy.

I didn’t go to parties which held no interest to me, and I avoided hanging out with people that didn’t benefit me or push me to be my best. I loved it.

Ah, the beauty of the word ‘no.’ I saw a tweet that said: “If yo (sic) circle doesn’t inspire you, you don’t have a circle. You have a cage.”

Y’all! Don’t get trapped in a cage. Saying ‘no’ to things that no longer serve you isn’t selfish, it’s smart and healthy. College is the perfect time to find your group, your niche and your passion. We don’t have time to try and be something that holds us back.

So take my advice and by all means, make ‘no’ your new favorite word.