“Don’t apologize: for taking up space, for living your life, for being you.”
Have you ever started paying careful attention to the way you speak to others and realized that you apologize ALL THE TIME? I read an article several years ago that focused on women having a tendency to apologize even when there was absolutely no reason for them to feel or say they were sorry and it opened my eyes. This article discussed another way we speak, to and about ourselves, that is hard to change. I’m a woman, a people pleaser, and a “highly sensitive person” so I think the tendency for me to apologize is multiplied even more. I can’t remember the exact article now, but it resonated deeply with me. I fit into the categories I just listed, having these qualities, and this article has come back again now that I’m trying to adjust to my “new reality” of living with chronic conditions that are not well known. Just now when I tried to google “article on women and apologizing” to see if a familiar one came up the search results showed tons of articles on the same topic. So as a society we’re somewhat aware of this trend, the knowledge is out there, but do people take notice, care, or consider the consequences?
I remember the story I told already in this blog, the one that sticks out particularly clearly in my mind as one of my first and most striking memories from childhood; me being about 3 or 4 running into the family room from a quick trip to the bathroom to make sure I didn’t miss a second of my favorite show Kids Incorporated (GO 1980’s!). I was wearing the hot pink wig from my dress up chest. I was confident and had a huge imagination even that young. But when I tripped on the steps and smacked my forehead on our little (but HEAVY) play table, I looked up stunned and didn’t even cry from the pain. As a big red lump began forming on my forehead with tears in my eyes I immediately apologized to my family. I felt terrible because I thought I ruined the night for everyone by falling and hurting myself. That memory sticks out so vividly in my mind; it confuses me and makes me extremely sad because even at such a young adage I felt like I had to say-
Do you ever pay attention to the way you ask for help with something in a store? If you’re like me, and the women these google articles are referencing, you start your question with a gentle “I’m sorry” to the person working before you ask your question or for help. Why though? What are you (and I) sorry for? Having a question? Needing help finding something? Isn’t that what the employees are there for? Why do we say “I’m sorry” instead of “excuse me” or “I have a question”? I’ve had people tell me many times to stop apologizing so much. And ask me “what are you sorry for?” My instinct is to apologize for apologizing too much! And I’ve done it before too! Then I laugh and try to brush it off, change the subject. Anything not to upset, anger, or offend anyone. Why do I feel so unworthy? Like my existence is a problem, a burden? I can’t answer those questions and struggle to understand why. I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, the way society teaches us, from a young age to behave. Or if it’s a combination of factors. Having Raynaud’s and DSPD make me even more painfully aware of how I feel like I’m not enough, I’m a burden. While these conditions aren’t life threatening on their own, they’re a part of me and I can’t change them or “fix” them. They make me quirky to be nice about it, or a pain if I’m being hard on myself for them. I didn’t ask for them, don’t want them, but I have to deal with them. And if I don’t take care of myself and manage them it could mean serious consequences for my quality of life and even my well being and health. I feel guilty and unworthy, I want people to like me and want to be around me so I apologize.
Until next Friday,