I apologize. I apologize when I want to ask a difficult question. I apologize when I ask a “quick” question. I apologize for talking too much. I apologize for not saying something when I should have. I apologize for taking my time. I apologize for being too quick. I apologize for something I did three years ago. Sometimes I apologize when I feel that I am apologizing too much. Why? I’m sorry, I don’t know.
When I was around ten years old I was particularly bad about apologizing all the time. I said, “I’m sorry” almost to the extent of it becoming a verbal tick. I remember my dad getting annoyed at constantly hearing a barrage of apologies and telling me “saying sorry doesn’t mean anything when you say it that much.” I, of course, quickly apologized. While my constant need to say sorry lightened up over time, I still find myself apologizing far more than I need to and certainly more than I want to.
In my experience as a twenty-first century woman, society has indirectly taught me that I need to apologize. I feel that I need to say sorry if I raise my voice, if I am wearing clothes that do not match the occasion, or if I ask an impertinent question. I have noticed this particular behavior is not unique to my own circumstances; many of my female friends and acquaintances also over-apologize. I recognize that by over-apologizing I am unintentionally undermining my own thoughts and actions. While some things are certainly worth apologizing for, I have decided that I will no longer apologize for my personality and what I want to do.
Recently, I have promised myself that I will not be sorry for asking my professor a question about lecture, for feeling a certain way, or for not having an answer. Although society often suggests I should, I will not apologize for who I am or who I am not. I have resolved to only say that I am sorry when I mean it, not simply because I am accustomed to putting the words into a sentence as one would put the letter “x” in a formula.
And if I sound “bossy” as a result, so be it. I’m not sorry.
Ohio University Women’s Center Staff