Today a fairly large, husky looking man bumped into me at school. He was rushing past me in a semi-narrow walkway and bumped my shoulder. So you, reader, can get a better picture of how this went down: I’m about 5’3 and he was easily 5’10-11. And like I said, husky. I almost lost my balance from an innocent shoulder bump. That’s not what this is about, though. He bumped into me and I apologized. He bumped into me and I apologized. He wasn’t rude or anything; he quickly mumbled a “no, really it was my fault. I’m sorry.” and walked away.
As I continued to make my way to my car, I remembered that Pantene ad (the shampoo, yes) where all of the women are apologizing for stupid things and then they stop apologizing and they sound powerful and assertive. I don’t really know how that has anything to do with shampoo, but it’s a good ad and I’ll link it below. Anyway, it dawned on me how often I apologize for things that are not my fault, or I’m really not sorry for. When I don’t understand something, I say “I’m sorry, what?” or if I fall asleep mid-text conversation, I’ll respond the next morning with an “I’m sorry I fell asleep last night”. What? No, I’m actually not. I lost interest in our small talk and decided that dreaming was probably more riveting. Or, I was actually tired (If I’ve ever fallen asleep on you mid-text convo, let’s go with the latter). I’m not sure how somewhere along the line, apologizing became an act of politeness instead of an acknowledgement of offense. I’ve somehow started using “I’m sorry” as a synonym for “excuse me”. That ends here; I’m sorry.
Fair warning to any self-proclaimed “meninists” out there (oh, yeah, that’s apparently a thing now) this is about to get feminist-y.
Not long ago, I rejected a guy who wanted to take me out for coffee. I not only lied and told him that I couldn’t go because I had a boyfriend (I’m as single as single gets) but I also apologized for it. In a lengthier way I said something along the lines of “Sorry, can’t. Taken.” I’m SO mad at myself for it. First of all, I just didn’t want to go out with a guy who thought because he was nice to me, I owed him a date. Ladies: you don’t owe a man anything for being a decent human. I did not owe him a date. ALSO, he thought I didn’t notice it when he copied off of my tests in class. I noticed, homie. I noticed. Point is, in case you needed an, as Oprah dubbed it “ah-ha” moment like I did, here it is: you don’t have to feel sorry for not doing something you don’t want to do. And you certainly don’t have to lie about it. Because if you wanted to grab coffee with a guy and you’re happily in a relationship, you can do that. And if you don’t, then don’t. Don’t ever use another person as justification for why you can’t do something.
Unless that person is your parent. Because who hasn’t lied to a friend and said that they can’t go out because mom said no? You know you’ve done it.
Be free from the meaningless sorry, friends.
Let go of the oppressive lady crutch.