Whenever I meet someone new, this is always one of the first things they tell me: ”You say you’re sorry too much.” And then I’ll laugh and try not to apologize again, but I’ve never been able to do much about it.
Trust me, I tried. It’s been a New Year’s resolution, a Lenten sacrifice, and more. One time someone even suggested I snap a rubber band on my wrist every time I said it. Several welts later, I tossed the rubber band.
See, I’ve been sorry for nothing for the past 11 years.
As a kid, I was definitely not sorry for being me. Kids are never sorry for splashing in puddles or making a big mess playing dress up in the closet or hosing down the babysitter. If I couldn’t find it in me to be sorry for running away to my best friend’s house to play or splashing my little sister in the pool, I certainly couldn’t fathom ever being sorry for the books I liked to read, the dance classes I wanted to take, or the choker necklaces I wanted to wear. Why would I ever apologize for being me?
Fast forward through a move to a new school and high school, and I found myself a college graduate apologizing for everything. “Sorry” came to be used for everything from “excuse me” to my personal favorite “thank you.” Even compliments suddenly became a whole new opportunity to self-deprecate (“Thanks, but actually I hate the way this looks on me. The sleeves on this top are really annoying”).
Seven-year-old me would have been so displeased with twenty-year-old me. She wouldn’t have understood how anyone could ever make you second guess yourself. Honestly, she would have essentially told me to suck it up. She would have told most of us to suck it up, because in reality this problem is far bigger than me. We’ve become a society where to be humble people often feel the need to self-deprecate.
But here we are today, and the messy adolescent moments aside, I have to agree with seven-year-old me. I don’t see any reason at all to be sorry for being me.
If you don’t like how loudly I speak or the things I like to do or my sense of humor, well, quite frankly, that is not my problem. No one wants to be rejected, no one wants to step on toes. So we apologize, we over-explain ourselves, we share every highlight of our lives in pictures and 150 words—we find our own ways to stave off rejection.
The thing is, people will pass in and out of our lives no matter what we do. There will be people we connect with, and there will be people who will dislike us on no grounds at all, who will hate us just for being ourselves (and no amount of apologizing will fix this).
So I apologize once more, but I simply can’t be sorry for being me anymore.