Everyone has a bad habit. There are habits that are hazardous to your health, like smoking and drinking. There are also those habits that are just annoying like cracking your knuckles. My habit is unfortunately both hazardous and annoying. Saying sorry far too often for my own good. Maybe I’m just your stereotypical Canadian who says they are sorry when they bump into inanimate objects. Or perhaps I was socialized to say I’m sorry because of my female gender. Whatever the case may be it is certainly not benefiting anyone, especially me.
This habit was only really brought to my consciousness recently when I was amongst a group of people I had just met. One person told me after I continually apologized for x, y and z reasons, that I have a place in this world, my space and my opinions and I don’t have to be sorry for that.
After that incident, I thought back to all the times I said I was sorry. I remembered I apologized for barley bumping into someone in the elevator. Or the time I apologized for asking the heat in my apartment to be fixed. I even apologized to someone who hurt my feelings, who dare I say it, should apologize to me.
It happened again this past weekend, while I had guests over at my apartment. We were discussing a touchy Canadian issue. Instead of just articulating my opinion and saying what I thought, I first apologized. For what reason, I’m not sure. Maybe to ensure I would not offend anyone or maybe to ensure even if I have a different view than others, my guests will still value me and like me.
Maybe this whole apologizing for every single thing is just a safety net to make sure that whatever the situation is the other person will still value me, even if I have a different view or a different opinion. To ensure even if I say or do something accidentally wrong they can’t dislike me, I said I was sorry. Ironically enough, the opposite seems to happen the more and more I apologize.
Maybe this is a gender issue. I was told to be a nice girl. Nice girls say they are sorry even when they don’t have to. Apparently it should be said to make everything better and to smooth out the bumps concerning any issue in any relationship that I have. I should always be the bigger person and say I am sorry first. There is even a Pantene Pro-V commercial about incessant female apologizing.
It certainly feels like people like me are ruining the value of the phrase, “I’m sorry.” No longer is it a phrase of deep remorse or a sign of compassion. I am obviously not sorry I think the things I think and the things I feel, but for whatever reasons I excessively apologize for feeling and thinking. I cheapened the phrase the second I started apologizing to the broccoli in the vegetable aisle. Worst of all, I cheapened myself. By not wanting to hurt anyone, ever by anything I say, I hurt myself. I devalue my own beliefs before anyone else has a chance to.
It is not a matter of being a stronger person. It is a matter of realizing the worth of my words. So what if I say something slightly unorthodox. If I do slightly hurt someone else’s feelings, it is clear it is not intentional. I need to be more conscious of when to say, “I’m sorry.” I wish an unapologetic attitude came more easily to me. I want to say how I feel without apologizing for it. I have a place in this world, my space and my opinions and I don’t have to be sorry for that. Sorry, I’m not sorry.