For most of my life, I’ve had a sorry problem.
- Sorry I didn’t live up to an expectation.
- Sorry if I was too loud or too much.
- Sorry if I was the center of attention for a night.
- Sorry if I didn’t quite answer the way you wanted me to.
- Sorry if I took the road less traveled and you’ve felt annoyed by it.
- Sorry I’m not gorgeous.
- Sorry I’m not thin enough for your liking.
- Sorry I’m not perfect.
I’ve long apologized for things I’m proud of or confident of because social constructs have told me I shouldn’t make others feel intimidated or less than.
Well meaning ‘friends’: Erin, don’t mention your martial arts background to guys you’re interested in. No guy wants to hear you can kick his ass.
Me: Oops. Oh gosh. You might be right. Sorry!
I’ve stopped saying unnecessary sorries lately. I’ve stopped apologizing for being myself and for taking credit for things that are reasonable for me to take credit for.
For example, recently I was in a conversation with a man who I was explaining a technology to. He acknowledged that I was smart about the topic and when I responded that I was probably smarter than 75% of the people that we associated with, he looked at me in shock. He added that it was a pretty assertive statement to make, to which I said, “Yep. And I’m unapologetic about it.”
From my brains to my bedroom to my inability to tolerate bullsh*t, I do not apologize. I don’t apologize if you feel less than because I’m living my best life. I don’t say sorry for things that I had no control over. If you bump into me in a bar or on a sidewalk, I’m more likely to tell you to watch where you walk…but I won’t say sorry.
Because I’m not sorry. If I didn’t cause the problem, then I’m not apologizing for it.
A lot of advice to women these days is to exchange sorries for thank you’s.
- Instead of Sorry I’m not able to make that meeting, turn that into Thank you for including me, but I won’t be able to attend.
- Instead of Sorry to butt into the conversation, turn that into I couldn’t help but overhear.
That sorry undermines your credibility. If you sorry all over your conversations, then actual remorse loses its impact and meaning. When you say Oops. Sorry! or I’m sorry, but…. You aren’t actually sorry, you just can’t come up with a more creative word or phrase to say.
Do you ever notice yourself doing this? Start taking note of how many times you say sorry in a day and if you actually meant it.
I’ve started paying more attention to the sorries I dispense and then identifying what the actual issue(s) are at hand.
- Did someone interpret my email or text a certain way? Rather than being sorry for how it may have been perceived, let’s talk accountability: “It appears my email/text may have been misconstrued”
- Someone we know was a mansplainer in a conversation? Don’t apologize on his behalf. Recognize his conversation style leaves something to be desired and let’s figure out how to respond.
- Don’t like how I acknowledge certain truths about a situation/personality? Let’s sit down and have a conversation about why.
I used to be petrified to “own” my brain and my body. I’m a smart woman and I love a lot of things about me: my curves, my eyes, my smirk of a smile, and sheer ability to bounce back stronger from most situations. I’m mentally and physically strong and it’s taken years of therapy, self-discovery, and hard work to get to this point.
I’ve lived the majority of my life feeling like I should apologize for things people didn’t like about me, as if the apology would turn them into adoring fans. I used to bite my tongue or hold in my true feelings because I worried it would make people mad. Now? I’ve exchanged apprehension for assertiveness and I’m not sorry about it.
When I’m Truly Sorry
This unapologetic manifesto is not a discourse on my never saying sorry again. Try as I may not to intentionally hurt someone, I’m certain it will happen over time and for that, I will apologize… wholeheartedly and in the truest sense of the word.
- I will be sorry — and say so — if I’ve been the one to bump into you (by accident of course, I’m not a meanie or a bully).
- If I’ve broken a rule that was put in place for good reason — I will apologize and ask for forgiveness.
- If I’ve said something hurtful to you? As a survivor of verbal abuse since childhood, you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be saying I’m sorry.
I try to live by the golden rule and to treat others how I want to be treated so I do my best not to create situations that I’ll need to apologize for.
But the overly apologetic Erin who used to apologize for standing up for herself….She’s gone now. She’s on a No Apologies Tour and she’s not looking back.