Why Can't I Stop Saying "Sorry"?

As I uttered my fifth “oh, sorry” of the day, I couldn’t help but wonder why I’d fallen back into the pattern of apologizing way too frequently. Whether it's in communicating in the workplace, working in group projects, or talking with friends, I’ve noticed my need to constantly apologize for everything. Coincidentally, I’ve noticed my male counterparts lacking the urge to apologize at all. So, why can’t I stop saying “sorry”?

Surrounding myself with friends who lacked confidence: While I’ve grown to realize the importance of surrounding myself with positive influences, during my early years of high school, I didn’t know how big an impact my friends could have on my own habits. One of my closest relationships was with someone who apologized excessively for every little thing. Over time, I noticed that I too had begun to apologize for things that I wouldn’t ordinarily apologize for, such as sharing a strong or unpopular opinion. Having the confidence to assert yourself stems in part from the confidence of those around you and, unfortunately, I most certainly felt myself shrinking in surrounding myself with certain peers during this time. 

A subconscious compulsion to shrink myself: Having grown up without a clear understanding of the power of my own opinions, I often struggle with having the confidence to stand by them without having to apologize. Contrary to my male counterparts who never seemed to feel the need to apologize for being assertive in their thoughts and actions, I sometimes fear that being too confident in what I want to say or do will be perceived as pushy or arrogant. Thus, I throw in a “sorry” in order to make the people around me feel more comfortable.

As a junior in college, I’ve been able to use all of the things that I experienced in high school and college experiences to work towards being my own person, letting my confidence shine through, and not feeling the need to apologize for my thoughts, opinions, or actions unless necessary. While I will admit it is a challenge to shake the bad habit-- given how it’s so ingrained in me-- I’m comforted in knowing that I’m nowhere near as bad as I once was and that one day I can finally stop saying “sorry” so much.