In the list of phrases I say without really giving it a second thought, “sorry” ranks among the top. Of course, I employ it as a genuine apology, but more often than not, I use “I’m sorry” as a stand-in for what I’m really trying to say: “Hello,” “Excuse me,” “Please move,” “It won’t happen again,” “You’re being very loud,” and so many others. It comes out automatically.
And I don’t think I’m alone.
So many of us, especially women, are conditioned to think that “rude” is the worst thing we can be, and we tailor our language to fit. Starting any conversation with “I’m sorry” is a way to deflect, or possibly even negate, the confrontation or perceived coarseness in a difficult interaction. We mean well. And in the grand scheme of things, “I’m sorry” seems at best polite, and at worst innocuous.
But what does constantly apologizing do to our self-worth? As we perpetually minimize ourselves, we are deprived of the space necessary to be assertive, stand up and dispel excessive guilt we’ve burdened ourselves with for the sole benefit of others.
It’s revolutionary to say, but hear me out: Women don’t need to feel bad all the time. Yet, by saying “I’m sorry” and admitting guilt when we have nothing to feel guilty about, we normalize the idea that we should. And I’m tired of it.
Refusing to over-apologize doesn’t make me rude; it makes me confident, like all the most inspiring women are. To take a page from Beyonce’s book: “I’m not sorry.”