I recently read a great article about taking back the word “sorry,” because it’s so often used as a synonym for “excuse me” by women. The article rang true to me in many aspects; I am the type of person who says, “Sorry, I’m in your way” or “Sorry, this might be wrong, but I think…” It makes me wonder how long ago it was drilled into my head that I had to apologise for taking up space or having an idea separate from someone else’s.
I’ve tried to limit my apologies for when they’re actual apologies. I don’t want to be the person who apologies just because I’m standing somewhere. And I certainly don’t want to be that student that apologises for every idea I have, especially now that I’m moving on to graduate school. My ideas are my ideas and I deserve to take up space, just like any other person.
It’s a struggle, though. Especially because “sorry” extends far beyond these examples. I, oftentimes, find myself apologising for the way I feel. I find myself wondering if the emotions I feel are justified or not. I wonder if, perhaps, I should apologise for them, even though I know I’ve done nothing wrong.
Case in point: I recently lost a family member that I was very close to. She was like my second mom; she was the first one to hold me, the first one to take me to Disney world, and the first one to jump at the chance to do something for me. The loss has affected me greatly. It’s not something I’ll be able to move on from for quite some time, though I am dealing.
Someone I know was incredibly insensitive the morning of her burial and I lost it. I made it clear that I had nothing to say to this person unless I received an apology. Because I deserve an apology.
There’s still a part of me that worries my anger needs justification. There’s always a part of me that craves justification for my actions. It’s a need rooted in years of feeling like I had to please everyone around me–that I had to conform to their standards and anything I did that bridged from their desired actions somehow reflected negatively on me. It meant I was a bad person. Every time, I felt the need to apologise. To say I was sorry that I felt I had to go down a different path, that I was sorry I felt a certain way.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more grounded in who I am. I’m more confident in my decisions and in my emotions. I can recognise the times when I’m only apologising as a way of saying “excuse me,” rather than as an actual apology. It doesn’t make not automatically saying I’m “sorry” any easier. It doesn’t mean I still don’t crave that justification or wonder if I’m doing the right thing.
I’ll still stand by how I feel, though. There are some cases when I won’t budge, no matter how much I feel like I should. Like the author of the article, I aim to take back everything I’ve been relinquishing.
If you’re interested in giving the article a read, you can find it here.