I Went a Week Without Apologizing

Okay, ladies, we’ve all done it. Girls are constantly apologizing for things that we don’t really have to be sorry for.  You do it to strangers when you feel like you’re in the way, to a cashier when you’re taking too long to get exact change out of your wallet, to your roommate when you just can’t find time to do the dishes. We’re constantly apologizing – for our faults, for our mistakes, and for ourselves. For some reason, women are afraid to take up too much space. We don’t want to overstep or say the wrong thing so badly that we apologize, even when we don’t regret what we’ve actually done. Why is it like that?

I watch all my girlfriends – my strong, nasty, funny, intelligent friends – and myself included, as they apologize for everything, even their successes and in those moments where they feel larger than life. Sometimes we’re more concerned with the idea of drawing too much attention to ourselves that we ignore the fact that we’ve just crossed the finish line of something really great.

And so I decided to embark on a week long journey. A journey to reclaim the word “sorry.”

I would not apologize for a single thing I did that week. Not when I was taking too long to do something, not when I didn’t know the answer, and certainly not for myself.

The lessons I picked up on are very important, so you’re definitely going to want to listen to this. Here’s what I learned:

 

My sentences became more powerful.

When my sentences didn’t begin with the word “sorry,” not only did I appear more confident in my own words, but I felt more confident in myself. I shouldn’t have to ask for permission all the time and feel like I should apologize when I do or when I over-step. I started to take myself more seriously without apologizing for menial things, and I can only hope that that can translate to others listening to me as well.

Unfortunately, apologies have apparently become the “norm.”

It’s weird – when I was consciously trying not to apologize for things I didn’t actually have to be sorry for, something dawned on me. Very few times am I ever told, “Don’t apologize!” when I am apologizing. I’m an engineering student, so a lot of the time, I’m the only girl in a group project of 3 or 4 guys. I find myself always saying sorry when I feel like I don’t know the information as well as I should or am not contributing enough. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any guy I work with say sorry for submitting something late or forgetting to do their part.

There are definitely times where you should say sorry.

I’ll be honest and say that I do not see well driving at night. I try to be extra cautious when I’m driving around campus as I’m literally begging myself not to miss anyone who might be using the crosswalk. Though I will say that I did do this at least once during the week and I waved to mouth sorry for not seeing them. Definitely an appropriate apology.

 

There are plenty of alternatives to the word “sorry.”

Instead of apologizing for being a few minutes late, maybe try, “Thanks for waiting for me," or instead of trying to shuffle by someone and apologizing, just say, “Excuse me," or, “Thanks." These are all very reasonable responses to most situations, and none of them involve you apologizing for taking up space. For existing. Sounds good to me.

To come to terms with myself.

I’m not perfect – and I’m not supposed to be. I skip class when I can’t bear the thought of leaving my bed, I eat too many processed foods, and I literally hate walking up large staircases and try to avoid them at all costs. But none of these imperfections are things that I should have to say sorry for.  You’re already a fully forced and amazing version of yourself – don’t apologize for who you are. Knowing yourself means knowing your demons, too.

So, that’s it collegiettes. My compiled list of what I learned when I stopped apologizing. You should try it too. Don’t apologize for taking up space, or existing, or when you feel like you’re inconvenient. You’re not inconvenient, in fact, you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing and we should never say sorry for that.

 

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