Sorry, Not Sorry

Do you ever say sorry then stop and ask yourself, “why did I just say that?” Apologies are good things, and sometimes saying sorry is necessary—not a form of weakness. Recognizing when you did something wrong and being able to admit to it is mature. However, women especially tend to say sorry for trivial things they cannot control throughout the day. Realizing this, I wanted to reserve how I used “sorry” to only necessary occasions. This week went pretty well….


Three occasions—not bad.  First, I forgot to complete a task in lab. While this did not itself trigger a lab inspection, we were targeted for an inspection the following day due to other lab protocols.  Second, I promised someone I’d bring ibuprofen to class, thinking I had some in my backpack. When I arrived at class I searched the entire bag only to find some pennies and old paper. Apologized to the person I promised ibuprofen to via text. Third, in a weekly report for work, a coworker shared some unfortunate news. I apologized about hearing this news via email.


I heard a lab subject died during a virus injection, and I apologized about this news to my boss. Also in lab, a coworker could not find a thermometer, so I said, “sorry, I haven’t seen it.” Weekly Count: 5.


Two occasions. I was using a work computer, but had to step away to talk to my boss. We lost track of time, and I forgot someone else was supposed to work at the computer desk in 30 minutes. They were waiting for 5 minutes, so I apologized for the delay. An administrator yelled at me for this overlap. When I reconvened with my boss and the office director, they said not to worry about the other administrator (they are particularly difficult to deal with, and I was in the clear). Second, I apologized to a professor for missing office hours. They anticipated my attendance to review an exam, however, we arranged another time, and I saw my answer sheet (to my luck there was a mistake, and I received 1 point back!). Weekly Count: 7.


I worked out with a friend and made them wait in my apartment while I changed clothes. I told them it would take five minutes, but I had to brush my teeth. This led to them waiting ten minutes. I restrained myself from saying sorry when someone left the bathroom as I entered—the classic side-step dance. They said sorry, and I said, “no need to say sorry.” Weekly Count: 8.


Sleep-deprived and over-worked, I apologetically had to cancel a standing morning meeting to sleep instead. I then proceeded to be thirty minutes past the time I said I was available to work in the lab. I felt bad for keeping someone else waiting due to my sleep-deprivation, leading to a "sorry." At night, I restrained myself from apologizing at work. Someone lost a personal item and I withheld a “sorry” instead saying, “haven’t seen it, I hope you find it.” Weekly Count: 10.


When your direct action negatively impacts others: it’s okay to apologize.

When you hear about something that negatively impacted others, yet you had no control over: it’s unnecessary to apologize.

When you need time to put your health first: ask for understanding, don’t immediately apologize.

Just breathe, you got this. #sorrynotsorry