Editorial – The Policies of Starting Over: Stop apologizing

(Photo from Unsplash)

How many times a day do you apologize? I am not talking about when you actually feel as if you did something wrong either. I am asking, how many times a day are you apologizing for things that do not actually require one? 

For instance, you are in line checking out with your groceries and you see broken eggs, the cashier sees them as well and goes to grab another carton for you. Do you apologize to the people in line behind you because it is taking a little longer? What about at the office where you approach the receptionist and say, “I am sorry to bother you, I have a question.” The truth is, these are nothing more than wrinkles that occur in our day-to-day lives. It’s almost as if you are apologizing for existing, for needing a moment, or anything at all. 

Often, we have our own individual reasons for why we feel compelled to apologize for everything. Sometimes, it can be from the need to please everyone around you; to be perceived as kind and caring, someone who is considerate of others. However, if we begin to sink too deeply into peoples’ opinion of us and despise the idea of upsetting or disappointing someone, it will do much more harm than good. 

These feelings can stem from low self-esteem. If we hold a poor image of ourselves and view others’ interactions with us as a burden, the mind can often become preoccupied in believing we are doing something wrong, being too difficult, causing inconvenience to others, being unreasonable or simply asking for too much. Don’t be fooled. You are allowed to exist, and experience need, and as a result, you do not owe a soul an apology. 

Another reason we may over-apologize is allowing ourselves to feel responsible for someone else’s mistakes or inappropriate behavior. In relationships, one person might find themselves apologizing for the actions of their partner to others. When you do this, you are taking responsibility for the actions of another person—actions that you personally have zero control over. Just because you are married to or dating someone does not make you their keeper. When you take ownership of those actions, you are enabling their inappropriate behavior by letting them off the hook. 

It can be all too easy to armor your every action and word in an apology, to be sorry for merely existing in a way that upsets others. If you have been apologizing for everything for so long that you cannot remember when it started, it’s probably become a reflex. In these cases, over-apologizing is just a bad habit to break, but one that needs to be broken, no matter how difficult. 

I wanted to write this one for you, whoever you are. Whatever brought you here to read this, it is for you and all the moments you told yourself you were not good enough to speak or ask a question without being sorry for making noise. It is for the ways you undermine yourself before you have even allowed yourself room to finish a thought. It is for the times that you forgot that you are allowed to take up space. You deserve to feel confident in yourself and the actions you take throughout your life. You are a riddle wrapped in an enigma, encased in stars and you deserve to live unapologetically.  

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