Day to day I find myself apologizing for things that I really shouldn’t have to apologize for. This seems to be a trend for women—we are constantly taught that certain things are our fault, and that we should preface any interjection, critique, or question with “I’m sorry.” This perpetuates a feeling that we are supposed to feel bad about who we are, and that we need to qualify our opinions with an apology to avoid coming across too strong. The inherent flaw in this is that we should be proud of who we are, we should feel confident enough to state what we thinking, and we should never have guilt about what we are feeling.
So I started to take a good, long look at everything I apologize for on a daily basis, and I came up with a list of everything that I really don’t need to feel sorry about. Disclaimer: I am not sorry for not being sorry about anything below.
I really don’t understand when apathy became the cool new trend. My entire life I’ve been taught to be passionate about everything I do, to put 110% in and to not stop until I’ve done my absolute best. This goes into my school, my work, my extracurriculars, and especially my relationships.
If you’re uncomfortable by how much I care about doing my best on an essay, raising money for a deserving cause, or making sure the people in my life know how important they are to me, then that’s your problem. I don’t think apathy is cool. I think caring deeply about every aspect of your life is cool, admirable, and inspiring. I’m not going to apologize because you think that I’m “catching feelings” or that I “care too much.” In fact, I take that as a compliment.
2. Being a “Bitch”
I’m sarcastic and sassy by nature. I understand that this isn’t what most people expect from women. Society tells us that we’re supposed to be kind and motherly and nurturing. So when I come at someone with a snarky remark, they immediately react by telling me I’m a bitch.
Here’s the kicker: sarcasm and kindness are not mutually exclusive. If you think I’m actually a bitch, that means you haven’t taken the time to get to know the real me. That, my friend, is your problem and your loss, not mine.
3. Saying No
It seems like women are always expected to satisfy the needs of others without taking into consideration their own needs. Sometimes I can’t get lunch because I have to finish an assignment. Sometimes I can’t stay out late because I have work in the morning. All of the times I can’t go on a fancy spring break trip because I need to save for trivial things like food and housing. I shouldn’t have to feel bad about saying no and feel the need to apologize for it. No one is going to criticize a man for taking care of his needs first, so why should I get criticism for it?
4. Being Right
I get it, nobody likes a know-it-all. But correcting someone for something that is offensive, potentially damaging, or embarrassing is a completely legitimate thing to do. I shouldn’t feel the need to preface a correction with “I’m sorry but…” I also shouldn’t feel the need to apologize for standing by my opinion when I genuinely feel as if I’m right. Apologizing beforehand makes me appear and feel less confident, and there is no reason for that.
5. Having My Period
Guys will never understand the feeling of waking up with menstrual cramps that are so debilitating that you can’t get out of bed without feeling as if you’re going to throw up or pass out. They will never understand that your period makes you feel gross and bloated to the point where you just want to curl up in bed.
I by no means fault men for their lack of a uterus, but I do fault them for making us feel bad because of the side effects of our period. To quote my friend the other day, “My body is temple,” and we’re not going to apologize because our reproductive system is inconvenient for you.
6. Asking a Question
So often in class when a female student asks a question, she will preface it with “I’m sorry but…” I am guilty of this too. It’s easy to feel a little shameful that you have to ask for clarification. Then again, how are we ever supposed to learn if we don’t ask questions? Why should we be apologizing for trying to make sure we understood everything correctly so we don’t make any mistakes? The simple answer is we shouldn’t.
7. The Way I Look
This one is much easier said than done, I get that. It is extremely difficult to come to peace with your body. I’ve found myself way too often apologizing to someone because I look younger, because my breasts are small, because I don’t have a thigh gap, because of any random critique that I or someone else comes up with.
What doesn’t make sense is that I don’t have problems with these parts of who I am. I know that even if I don’t love every single characteristic of my body, it is what makes me, me. I am never going to apologize for who I am, so why do I let other people convince me that I need to apologize to them for who I am?
8. Standing Up for What I Believe In
As we already covered, I am a passionate person. I am not going to stand idly by without voicing my opinion. If my posts on social media about what an abomination it is that obtaining a gun is astronomically easier than obtaining an abortion makes you uncomfortable, then you can unfriend me. If my retweets of key policy positions of a candidate who I strongly support offends you, unfollow me. I’m not apologizing for what I believe in, and I’m not asking you to apologize for what you believe in either.
If you are so opposed to seeing views that might conflict with what you have believed your entire life, then just know that you’re living in a filter bubble and you are never going to grow intellectually. I am open to listening to all viewpoints that are well founded and not hateful, and I would never make someone apologize for voicing that viewpoint. Thus, I am not going to apologize for mine either.
9. My Success
Yeah, I’ve accomplished a lot in my life that I am proud of, as have many women. Yet for some reason we are taught to be humble, to downplay our successes, to not be proud of what we’ve accomplished. I have no idea why this is. If I work hard for something that I really want, I have the right to be proud of it. I shouldn’t feel the need to apologize.
10. Making Mistakes
Everyone is allowed to make mistakes. How else would we ever learn? I’ve been known to obsessively focus on even the smallest mistake I may make and apologize for it over and over again. This is counterproductive because when I’m apologizing, I’m not learning. I’m just focusing on the mistake itself and not on how it can be prevented in the future.
11. Having Fun
I’m young. I don’t have much longer to continue being young. I’m going to take advantage of it as much as possible. I don’t need a lecture on morals, on responsibility, on anything. I am 100% entitled to go out and have fun and enjoy my life. I am perfectly capable of handling myself, knowing my limits, and making sure I’ve taken care of all of my responsibilities before going out. If I’m not harming anyone (or harming myself) there is no reason for anyone to try to make me feel bad or make me feel as if I need to apologizing for enjoying my life.
I am in no way advocating for women to walk around without any regard for how their actions affect other people. There are certain things that merit an apology. I’m simply saying that we are taught to apologize for things that really do not deserve an apology. It has gotten to the point where the words “I’m sorry” are almost meaningless.
The next time you find yourself apologizing, question whether you really truly are sorry. More importantly, question whether you deserve to feel sorry. Most of the time the answer is going to be no.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.