I say sorry too much. Just the other day, I was helping a friend film a project and I kept apologising for my unnatural movements, lack of acting ability and unintuitive responses to her directions. Eventually, she finally said “Angie, stop apologising for existing!” And she was right. The discussion that followed made us think why people (particularly girls) say sorry too much.
Apologies are often expressions of remorse designed to acknowledge wrongdoing and help heal hurt done unto others. However, it’s as though apologising has evolved into an excuse to avoid approaching scenarios with confidence. Today, we start questions with apologies by means to seek approval before we even express an idea that requires approval. For example:
“I’m sorry Miss, but what if governments chose to accept asylum seekers in a different way?”
“Excuse me Sir, but can negative numbers have a square root?”
“Apologies for interrupting, but surely Indigenous cultures house a plethora of medicinal knowledge?”
Instead of celebrating the beauty of asking questions and being confident with our ideas, we start off on the wrong foot by apologising for even daring to think! This infers that curiosity is entirely a wrongdoing that always incites hurt. Surely this is tragic and dangerous?
It implies us that asking questions is an offense, not an opportunity. That initiating discussion is a pain and not constructive. That assertively approaching risks is a cost without a benefit. So we apologise for having confidence in order to avoid embarrassment, hurt and even rejection.
Too often have I seen girls feel too intimidated to ask questions, or guys not apologise for something a girl would have. In men, assertiveness can be seen as admirable and attractive. In the same scenarios, women can be labelled as polarising and even disrespectful.
And yet, nowadays, us women can afford to be vulnerable and be curious. We realise there’s little benefit when conforming to a timid and obedient stereotype in challenging situations. Innate human resilience deems us all well equipped to take critique and offer it too. Furthermore, we’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t commit ourselves to expressing a unique perspective that could indeed, add immeasurable value to any situation.
Always offer questions kindly and with sensitivity; that’s a no brainer. But never apologise for having a brain that can think and see things differently. The bravest and best never have. From Malala Yousafzai and Princess Diana, to even Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen. These women, real or not, would have needed to whip out an apology when necessary. But never would that have ever apologised for believing in a difference that resulted in positive change. Same goes for you and me.
I reckon it’ll come with practice, but I think I can save my apologies for when I really need them. That way, my apologies will retain the meaning they were designed to embody. So until it’s actually required, you and I should try and remember that there really is, no need to apologise.