I’m tired of apologizing when I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m tired of apologizing as habit, as a social courtesy, as a societal expectation, as a knee-jerk reaction. I’ve been in the habit of doing so all my life, having grown up in a radically-conservative household where fostering feelings of guilt, insufficiency, and (for women) humility and meekness were closely-held principles. Well, I’ve made the decision to consciously work on not doing that anymore. Apologizing for things in which I have no fault doesn’t come from a good place. It comes from lack of self-esteem and misplaced feelings of inferiority. It can also potentially be a liability. In some instances, apologizing can be seen as admission of guilt. So let’s examine when I’m most likely to engage in this self-defeating behavior.
I do it when it’s a tense situation. The other party is unhappy with circumstances. Generally, they’ve been inconvenienced in some way. The tension becomes too much for me. I’m not able to offer them a solution to their problems (which don’t have anything to do with me in the first place), and so I seek to abate the situation by offering an apology.
I do it when I feel bad for the other party. The other party is in a tough situation. Perhaps they’re dealing with something traumatic like a terminally-ill loved one. I want to show empathy. I often do so by apologizing, because, again, I feel helpless to improve their circumstances. My apology is a concession.
I do it when I’m involved in any way, even when I did nothing wrong, couldn’t have changed the situation, and might even be a victim in the situation. For example, the other day, I wasn’t able to log into my computer system for work. There was a company-wide outage due to a recent computer update and most people were not able to gain access. I did not have the phone number of the manager I was helping that week so couldn’t inform him I wasn’t able to log in. I asked two other higher-ups (whose phone numbers I had, and who were in contact with him) to please reach out to him and let him know what was going on. When I was finally able to log in much later that day, he advised me no one had reached out to him. I apologized for the inconvenience. However, in reality, I had done nothing wrong and in fact did everything in my power to reach him. The others who never got a hold of him with my message should have been the ones apologizing.
I could be swallowed by a sinkhole while on someone else’s property doing community service, and I’d end up apologizing to the rescue personnel simply for having existed and taken up space as a form of matter that ended up in a sinkhole for them to have to recover. From today on, I will be much more stingy with my “I’m sorries”. Giving them out falsely makes me feel small, cheap, and belittling of myself. Does this resonate with anyone else?