It'd be rare to meet a woman who doesn’t go through an entire day without saying sorry at least twice.
Yes, being apologetic can be a great attribute because we all know "sorry seems to be the hardest word" and it's a basic necessity of survival in this big, bad world. But women must stop apologizing for things that they truly don’t need to apologize for. Here are a few examples taken from my own life because I am guilty as sin when it comes to over-apologizing.
Speaking up when you’re with a group of men
How many times have you been in a situation where you have something to say when you’re with a group of men, or where the majority are men, and you start your conversation by saying “Sorry, but I think …” or “Sorry, can I just jump in here?” Own your words and realise that you have the right to speak just as everybody else does. Unless you are interrupting somebody, then there is no need to apologise for joining in on a conversation and telling your story.
Having messy hair or looking less than perfect
“Sorry, I look dreadful today!” or “Sorry, I ran out of time to do my makeup!’ A friend of mine I hadn’t seen in six months once said, “Sorry I’ve really put on weight since we last met.” In my opinion she looked as fabulous as she always has, but even if she had put on weight, why apologise about it? It’s not like she was in the running for swimwear shoot for Sports Illustrated. There is no need to ever apologise about your appearance unless you turn up somewhere in your pyjamas with a clay face mask on and, even then, a comical explanation will definitely be required (sans apology).
My friend Hannah and I had a disagreement about a mutual friend who was allowing her nine-year-old on social media, even though he was already dealing with bullies at his school. Hannah said “I’m sorry, I really disagree with you,” and proceeded to outline her reasons. There was no need for her to apologise for disagreeing with me (I suggested the 9 year old not be allowed on social media nor was there any reason he needed a smartphone). I’ve found so many times in both social and work situations that women will open almost any debate with an apology. Next time you find yourself doing this, catch yourself out and try to cut it out. There is no need to apologise for having an opinion, even if you’re the only person in the world who holds that particular view.
Your kids behaving like kids
Time and time again we hear mothers apologising for their children’s behaviour and, unless they’re hurting somebody, damaging property or being downright obnoxious, there is no need to apologise. Once my youngest son was playing on a slippery slide and instead of sliding down, he decided to crawl up which is something kids ‘just do.’ I remember apologising to anybody in earshot about holding up the queue at the other end and quickly took him off the slide only for another kid to attempt the exact same thing. Ditto when he picked up a stick and starting whacking it against a rubbish bin, making an annoying noise: I apologised to the nearby mothers for the racket he was making (they’d barely noticed anyway). Again, it wasn’t something to be sorry about. If I had my time over, I’d just smile and move my boy onto another activity.
Saying no to something you don’t want to do
We’ve all got that demanding friend or relative who often asks you to go out of your way to meet up with them. My friend ‘Anika’ doesn’t like turning up anywhere in public on her own so, when we arranged to meet for a drink, she insisted I come to collect her. The problem was that she lives about 40 minutes’ drive away from me. There was no way I was going that far out of my way, not when I’d booked a babysitter to mind the kids. I apologized profusely and then reeled off all the reasons why I couldn’t ferry her around. When we met up, I apologized yet again and when we left, I apologized for not driving her home. You shouldn’t have to apologise for something that you said ‘No’ to for good reason.
So the next time you find yourself over-apologizing, please remind yourself of the situations that demand an apology, such as hurting someone’s feelings or letting somebody down, and the situations that don’t call for you to say, “I’m sorry.”
And, if you find yourself in a room filled with men, sit back and listen for a while – count the number of times the men will preface any conversation with, “I’m sorry.” Let’s call it the ‘not sorry’ experiment and perhaps it’ll help you change your own behaviour. (Sorry not sorry.)
Copyright Libby-Jane Charleston