Je suis désolée

“No thanks, I'm good.” 
“This might be a stupid question, but…” 
“I think you already told me this, so forgive me, but…” 
“I have this idea, it might be silly, but…” 
“I don’t think I can make it, but I’ll try…”
“I'm sorry”
“I'm sorry”
“I'm sorry” and...
“I'm sorry.”

Any of these sound familiar?

My friends and I are a group of funny, smart, confident, strong women and yet...I've noticed that either bluntly or subtly, most of our conversation contains some form of apology. I'm sure there have been studies about this pattern of women apologizing more than men and it fascinates me, especially when I catch myself do it. Why am I apologizing for not remembering the friend of a friend’s brother’s name? Why can’t I just say a firm but polite “no” instead of, “Nahh I'm good”?
Why do we do this?

I'm not saying all women do this. I'm relieved not all women do this. I wonder if it’s just a matter of being in a position of power. I suppose it makes sense if at work or on a job interview you have an apologetic tone (whereas the person interviewing you does not) because you don’t want to step on toes and admit it, you just want to be liked. (Again, I know, not all women share this thought, and that’s great too.) Is it our generation? Are we so used to texting and email that we've viewed the phone and “real-life” conversation as something uncomfortable? Once our computers are taken away from us, does our confidence go with it? The more I think about it, the more instances I find. The time I asked a question in a gathering with friends and prefaced it with, “This is going to maybe sound like an insult but I swear I don’t mean it that way, I just have a question…” or when my drink is made incorrectly at the local cafe and I practically fall over myself apologizing explaining that this wasn't what I ordered and can you please remake it, I'm so sorry. Like it’s my fault you made me a hot chai latte even though I asked for iced. And it’s not a big deal, that’s not my point. The big deal is that I feel like it’s my fault.

Be honest with yourself...is this something that you do? Really think about it. If someone asks you to attend something that you really don’t want to attend, do you hesitate, put on a happy face and say something like, “I don’t know, I’ll have to check my schedule, but it really sounds like fun, I hope I can make it, I'm sorry I just don’t know yet!”? I'm not saying you should reply, “Your party sounds lame, shag off” but there’s a polite yet firm way to say no. I hate when people say, “I wish I could be there.” There’s no wishing. If you want to be there, be there. You don’t need a genie in a bottle, you just need your car keys.

Let’s make a conscious effort not to apologize for things that we have no need to apologize for. Don’t say “I should have”, “My bad”, “Is that okay with you?”, or any other form of apology unless it is absolutely necessary.

There are too many people who didn't deserve my apologies and I just gave it to them anyway.


Sorry I'm not Sorry card by Jam Card via Etsy

Comments

  1. yes! I'm a serial-apologizer... I swear sometimes I bump into my dog and say I'm sorry!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is a really good observation. I'm definitely in the over-apologizer camp. Now that you've pointed it out, maybe I'll be more conscious of it in the future and stop doing it when it's really not warranted.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, I do this ALL the time. I realized it for the first time when I was volunteering in Vietnam. One of my friends was a girl from Belgium who spoke fluent English. I think she waited two or so weeks before asking me why the hell (I added the hell, but it was implied lol) I apologized all the time. She actually pointed out how unnecessary it was in each individual scenario! Anyway, I made a conscious effort to stop, but I still do it. The only difference is that I hear it now, too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ahhhh, I do this soo often. Especially in he "iced coffee situation" you wrote of. When I was younger I even would go as far as not telling the waitress she totally got my order wrong. If I ordered spaghetti and got a plate or turds, I would totally eat the turds and not tell her. Hahaha!

    ReplyDelete

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