Apologizing. It’s a nasty habit I developed at a young age. I’m not saying that apologizing for something you’ve done wrong is horrible, but I literally apologize for everything. I will text someone a question, then immediately say, “Sorry to bother you,” or I will make dinner for my family then say, “Sorry if it’s not great… I really tried.” I tend to apologize for my own existence, for the air I breathe and for the space I occupy. Eventually, a friend of mine decided it was time to go nuclear on attempting to break this habit.
“I dare you to go an entire week without apologizing to us!”
I have a love-hate relationship with competition, mostly because I am a perfectionist who loves to win. Therefore, I avoid any form of competition that I feel I may not win. I accepted this particular dare anyway, knowing in the deepest portions of my heart that I would fail miserably.
Spoiler alert: It only took 24 hours for me to apologize.
My friend, fiercely stubborn and dedicated to improving my bad habit, allowed this competition to continue for several days with no success. I have yet to go an entire week without apologizing, but I have managed to start apologizing less. The massive takeaway from this challenge has been the awareness of just how many parts of me that I do not owe anyone an apology.
Nobody needs to apologize for being themselves, including me.
Therefore, here are six parts of the human existence for which I will no longer be apologizing.
1) I will not apologize for my body.
Being brutally honest, I don’t love my body. That does not mean that I need to apologize for it. I am obese, but my weight does not require me to plead guilty. If you are thin, you do not need to apologize for that, either. I am short, but I’m not saying I’m sorry for it, and if you are tall, you don’t have to tell short people “sorry” for your height, either. I’m also not apologizing for my acne, my self-harm scars, my feet, or my lopsided chest. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for any aspects of your body.
2) Hell no, I will not apologize for my f*cking use of profanity (unless it is in the presence of children).
I have a mild “potty mouth,” but that doesn’t make me a terrible person. I will no longer tell you that I’m sorry when I shout “Asshole!” while I’m driving in traffic or for saying “F*ck!” when I smash my finger in something. You never need to offer reparations for swearing in my presence either… unless my daughters are there.
3) I will not apologize for my intelligence.
I’ve always felt that my expansive vocabulary and exceptional math skills required an expansive mea culpa when less intelligent people are present. I worked hard to educate myself in high school and college, and I continue to educate myself daily even as an adult. My work ethic doesn’t warrant penance, and neither does my extensive knowledge that my hard work fostered. Don’t apologize for being smart, folks.
4) I will not apologize for my religious or political viewpoints.
Our world has become highly polarized, and my fear of conflict has always made me feel obligated to apologize for my personal views. I must stop apologizing for my deepest convictions. It is okay to disagree with someone, and when we take the time to listen and share, disagreement can lead to learning opportunities for both sides. So, I will no longer apologize to my conservative, Protestant friends for my thoughts about the world, though I will gladly listen and accept their perspectives’ validity.
5) I will not apologize for my sexuality.
Since I came out as bisexual, I have genuinely felt a greater comfort with being myself. I am married to a man and have children with him, but I still see incredibly sexy women constantly. I am no longer ashamed of those feelings towards women, just like most men aren’t ashamed of checking out a woman with a spectacular body. You do not have to like that I’m open about my bisexuality, but I also don’t owe you an apology for it. Nobody ever needs to apologize for being true to themselves and their feelings.
6) I will not apologize for my mental illness.
I have come to terms with the extent of my mental illness. However, I have felt that my condition (and the behaviors my illness causes me to exhibit) required me to lurk in the shadows of shame, offering excuses and attempting to constantly make amends for anything anyone could possibly link to my disorder. The reality is this: Mental illness is just like physical illness, meaning that it does not require anyone to apologize. Nobody says, “I’m sorry; it’s just that I have cancer;” therefore, we shouldn’t feel an obligation to apologize for our anxiety, depression, or other mental disorders. You cannot help your brain’s wiring.
I am still working on trying to go an entire week without apologizing to my dear friend, but I’ve accepted that she won the dare. I am so thankful that she initiated the challenge, though. Without the opportunity to challenge myself to stop apologizing, I wouldn’t have discovered what I really need to change. I’m done apologizing for being myself, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to apologize for who you are, either.
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