When my roommate apologized for sneezing yesterday, I knew it was time write this post. Unlike my roommate, Julia Child once said, “Never apologize.” This may have been preceded by “no matter what happens in the kitchen,” but I’d like to think she applied this philosophy to all parts of her life.
I used to be the kind of person who apologized for everything. It was like a weird reflex or regurgitation. I didn’t mean to constantly spout out “I’m sorry’s”, they just happened. It got to the point that I was annoying others and annoying myself for constantly feeling at fault.
So I decided to stop.
Would I apologize for asking someone to scoot over on the couch? No! Would I start my questions off with “I’m sorry, but…”? Absolutely not! I would say I’m sorry when I really meant it and never any time else.
Too often society romanticizes delicate women. We’re getting better at this as a whole, but it’s still implied that women are more emotional than men. This comes, I think, from women constantly apologizing. Women are using “I’m sorry” as a means to not offend, as a space-filler, and as a prop. Women, we can ask a question without feeling bad about them or stating, “I’m sorry, this is a dumb question, but…” We shouldn’t be afraid to speak our minds and believe in what we’re advocating. This isn’t to say men don’t apologize, but in my personal experience, my girlfriends seem to apologize more than my guyfriends.
Because of this, I stopped mindlessly saying sorry, and you should too.
I’m not saying we should never apologize. If you genuinely feel bad about something, then say you’re sorry. But that time you apologized for tripping? Stop that. Remember when you said sorry for wanting to go to Target or using two paper towels instead of one? Quit it!
Let’s break it down. Did you really feel bad about that little, teeny-tiny, miniscule, not-important-in-the-scheme-of-your-life thing you did that you apologized for but really had no reason to say you’re sorry about? Probably not. Your mouth disobeyed your brain and puked out an “I’m sorry.” But did you feel bad for making a friend sad or eating the last bagel when your mom was saving it for breakfast tomorrow? Probably. These are the times your apologies mean the most.
Let’s say you’re only allowed to apologize for one of these instances:
A. You promised a friend you would meet them for coffee, but had to cancel at the last minute.
B. Someone in a hurry rudely bumped into you. You had nothing to do with the interaction
besides innocently standing there.
C. Something in your geometry class didn’t make sense to you, so you asked a question about it.
Which do you choose? I hope your answer was the first. We shouldn’t apologize for something completely out of our control (letter B) or not understanding something (letter C). Wait for an apology from the rude person in the situation. Don’t apologize for their actions. Ask questions with conviction, not regret.
This isn’t a process that I perfected overnight. I still find myself saying sorry for the dumbest things. But it’s something I’m working on every day. I want to live my life not idly saying sorry, but instead really meaning my apologies. I want to live my life like Julia Child. Because, let’s be honest, she never would have apologized for sneezing.