This New Years, I set a few goals for myself. Right at the top, I wrote “Say ‘sorry’ less”. I had noticed myself consistently apologizing for everything- for making mistakes, for being late, even as a vocal tick before I raised my voice to give any input I had. Slowly, this habit had worn on me until, each time I said the “s-word”, my insides winced a little. So! I decided 2014 would be the year of no more “sorrys”! I would be rid of the word altogether and continue my life as a strong, opinionated, human of the world!
Yeah, that didn’t exactly happen as I had planned. Rather than be rid of my apologetic attitude, I would say “sorry” unnecessarily, inside-cringe, emotional spiral, and guilt-trip. Not exactly positive attitude alteration I was aiming for in the New Year.
And yet- I’m still dedicated to making this change in my life. Why? Well I’m glad you asked, my own imagination.
First and foremost: I want to stop saying “sorry” as a personal reaction to every woman I hear in a boardroom, or on a business call, or in a classroom discussion who begins her opinion with an apology, or tails up at the end of a thought as if it’s a question. I couldn’t say for sure why this is a trend. Whether this vocal phenomenon is the product The Patriarchy forcing us over the span of thousands of years to question our own minds and ask forgiveness for our own strengths, or if it’s merely a cultural voice trend as with the word “like” in the 90s and beyond. Either way, the result of this apologetic tone is a group of smart and strong individuals with the audio quality of meandering chickens. It’s a type of group I would neither want to be a part of, nor would I want to represent.
Secondly, I want to stop saying “sorry” to protect its power. I’m a writer and a huge admirer of language in general. I LOVE that words have meanings and those meanings have juice. A single word, depending on the context, sayer, say-ee, timing, emphasis, and place can be completely unique and powerful. That being said- the more I said “sorry”, the less “juice” my actual “sorrys” felt when I said them. When I had actually fucked up, saying “sorry” seemed absolutely petty and non-reflective of my feelings. Especially if I had just apologized for bumping my own toe into the wall. I want to protect what “sorry” is to me. When I need to apologize, I want to be able to use the appropriate word with the power and intention it deserves. For every other moment, I need to find better words to express what I want to say.
Finally, I want to stop saying “sorry” so as to take better responsibility for myself. Generationally, I’ve found my peers (the ever-illusive “millennial” generation) using “sorry” as a way to distance themselves from responsibility of their words or actions. I don’t generally have a poor opinion of Millennials. As one, I believe we’re doing the best we can with what we’ve been given and people need to shut up about it already. However, I can’t tolerate people who lack accountability. Sure, modern technology and THE INTERNET have created a culture where one can completely ignore another person, flake-out on a responsibility, and otherwise ignore the rest of the world. Similarly, I’ve noticed that people my age use the word “sorry” to mean “I’ve taken care of the damage of this event and you should be over it now”. “Sorry” doesn’t take away whatever you’ve done, and honestly- saying “sorry” doesn’t make you actually sorry. Instead of railing on this point and pointing fingers at the world in the comfort of my own tumblr- I’m instead going to turn the onus on myself. Instead of saying “sorry” to placate an angry friend, or smooth over an uncomfortable mistake, I want to think about: 1- Am I actually sorry? 2- Is saying “sorry” just the easiest way to make this go away? And hopefully, I’ll find that “sorry” isn’t enough. Hopefully, I’ll think more before I act and take ownership of that action. Hopefully, I’ll find that in some scenarios I’m not actually sorry at all! And then I can go through the emotional spiral of “am I a monster” or “should I move to Mexico”- but only when I truly truly need to go through that emotional spiral.
So, hopefully by writing this and putting it somewhere, I’ll reinvest in my plight to stop saying “sorry”. Not in the hopes that I’ll stop taking risks or that I’ll stop making mistakes, and certainly not in the hopes that I’ll live with no regret and feel the need to apologize to no one. Rather, I press on in the hopes that I’ll bring courage back into myself through the words I say. I’ll no longer apologize for my thoughts, I’ll make my real “sorrys” count, and I’ll take ownership for my actions- good or bad.
I mean, at least until I delete this post and apologize for caring at all- am I right?