… a reflection from a reformed over-apologiser.
How many times a day do you apologise? I recently realized that over half my emails start with the words ‘I’m sorry’. Especially during the first year of the pandemic! I was always apologising for letting people wait a few days before I responded. Why was my style so apologetic? Do yourself a favour and run a quick search of your sent emails for the words ‘I’m sorry’. Are you like me? A chronic apologiser? And how many times do you really feel you have been in error? How many times was your apology required? I recently started to exercise my ‘I’m a great person, and I’ve done nothing I need to apologise for’ muscle, and while I may have made up the muscle, I promise you, it feels good to exercise it.
Things I will no longer apologise for
I’ve stopped apologising for my feelings, my appearance, and not dropping everything to reply to your email or text message, just to name a few. I can’t believe I ever felt the need to apologise to someone because I looked tired, had a feeling, or chose to wear a particular outfit. Where was my self-compassion? Where is yours? We do not owe the world an apology for anything to do with our appearance or feelings.
As to the way we spend our time, it took a while to internalise, but my time is valuable too. I am allowed to spend it how I will and I do not have to meet anyone elses unrealistic expectations of an immediate response in this digital world.
So now instead of apologising for not dropping everything to reply in detail to an email or text, I’m practising quick template responses like ‘I’m still working on your answer’ or ‘I haven’t forgotten about you, I’m just a bit slammed here’. It lets people know I have their communication, but without the suggestion that I am guilty of something because I can’t or didn’t reply immediately.
Of course, I’ll say Sorry if I’m in the wrong
Apologies are super important. Please do not misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting we stop apologising when we are wrong. On the contrary, apologies are a necessary step in repairing the social fabric that keeps us connected, but only when we’ve clearly hurt someone, violated a rule or done something we know to be wrong! If I bump into you with my trolley in the supermarket, I will apologise. Likewise, if I am rude to you because my temper is high over other things, or if I forget you emailed me and only realise three weeks later when you mention it. It’s the unnecessary and even insincere apologies we need to give up because all this excessive apologising makes us appear lacking in confidence and competence (Deborah Tannen, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation). Worse yet, they make the words seem less meaningful when they are truly necessary. It’s an over apologetic style we women are often guilty of and it’s time to stop. We are confident, competent, and prepared to apologise, but only when we have done something wrong.
Have a fabulous style - not an apologetic one.
As to my email experiment, my own reduction in apologies, I feel great. Way more relaxed about my inbox. I’ve stopped dreading responding to ’overdue’ emails. And other people? They don’t care! No one has mentioned anything. My guess is that they don’t even consider my responses slow. So next time you feel the urge to apologise, pause, take a breath and ask yourself if you are really to blame or in the wrong. Remember, your time is important, your style is permissible and your life is your own. Never feel the need to apologise for who you are or how you choose to spend your time! You are worth so much more than that! ’Sorry not sorry’ is a personal reflection on how we can all give ourselves permission to own a style that better suits us, minus the guilt. It’s my own life’s wisdom as I grow into a personal style that is more me, in fashion, but most importantly, in life. xoxo