I apologize for everything. I think a lot of women do. I apologize for legitimate things like stepping on someones toes (literally and figuratively), forgetting a birthday, and hurting someone’s feelings. I also apologize for needing a towel when I visit my mom, for my house being a bit messy when I get unexpected visitors, or when my guests have to walk upstairs to use the bathroom.
The first time I realized how much I apologized was about a decade ago when my mom, who was very annoyed by it, kept telling me, “No apology necessary.” She also said, “If you apologize one more time I really am going to be mad.” I think all this apologizing comes because I am a people pleaser. I want everyone to be happy and comfortable when they are around me. I don’t want people to think poorly of me or my family, and I generally don’t want to feel like I am inconveniencing anyone.
I was at the orthopedist today for a check-in about a torn meniscus in my knee. Last night I realized I would have to pull my pant legs up at one point during the appointment and I hadn’t shaved my legs. We’re not talking Sasquatch hairy, but it was definitely noticeable and prickly. I was so tired, I just decided to not worry about it and apologize instead. So I am sitting on the table in the exam room and my doctor asks me to pull up my pant leg. I was all ready to start in with my excuses and apologies when it hit me—why should I have to apologize? It’s hair, not poison ivy. I choked back my ‘I’m so sorry I didn’t shave. Sorry,’ and instead said, “You’re going to have to deal with hair, I didn’t have time to shave.” That wasn’t exactly a non-apology either. It was just me trying to be tough and then explain myself. I shouldn’t have said a thing. I should have owned it, like a strong woman who doesn’t need to explain her hygiene routine to anyone.
It’s so hard to let people see you in a vulnerable state and not offer excuses. It’s hard to know that some people don’t like you, or are mad at you. It’s hard to be a mother who doesn’t apologize when your kid is just being a kid. It’s hard to feel like what you do is good enough. It’s hard to be a woman (I’m sure it’s hard to be a man too, but I am a woman, so I can’t really speak to the whole man emotions). Damn, but it’s just plain hard some days.
I am working on using ‘I’m sorry’ at appropriate times, so until then,
please excuse me. I might finish each ‘I’m sorry’ with an ‘Or am I?’ Would that be too weird?