Un-Learning the Habit

July 14th, 2018


I've been meaning to write this for a while, but I kept putting it off because I wasn't sure what to write about. I'm absolutely an offender of the “over-apology”. I apologize for everything: for being too considerate of others, for running 30 seconds late, for being in the way when someone else bumps into me. I hear myself blurt out the words, “I’m sorry”, and I cringe. There are so many times I want to stop and say: “Wait, I take it back. That’s a silly thing to be apologetic for.” This is especially so living in NYC, where so many people take advantage without blinking an eye.

I really dislike the power these words have over me. As soon as I say, “I’m sorry,” I'm waiting for the other person to tell me “It’s okay.” Even when I've apologized for something mundane, that other person gains immense power over my state of well-being, as I wait for them to relinquish me from self-inflicted guilt. I say “I’m sorry” and immediately crave the response, “It’s okay.” And sometimes I never hear those words. Sometimes I'm never relinquished from the guilt of my “sin”, and I spiral into a flurry of worry. If they didn’t say it’s okay, then are they mad? Am I rude? Is there an unresolved conflict?

So I'm hoping that writing this down helps me remember. I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry for all the ridiculous things I do that make me who I am. I’m not sorry that sometimes, in a crowded city where you're constantly trying to be forty places at once, I may be standing in your way. I’m not sorry that I have way too much energy and am louder in public than you think is socially acceptable. I’m not sorry my facial expressions clearly give away my emotional state. 

I can't keep apologizing because I can't keep giving everyone power over me, when all I really want is to help people be their best selves. No more waiting for anyone to tell me, “it’s okay”, when I already know it’s okay. Next time you hear me say, “I’m sorry” realize that I’m not sorry. I’m just working on un-learning the habit.

Serena Hunt