We often say “I’m sorry” for mishaps and wrongdoings which we feel we’re at fault. However, I have come to realize that women (myself included) apologize too much – especially for things we have no real reason to apologize for.
As a child, I was taught to say “I’m sorry” not just when I was at fault but whenever I asked something of someone – as if asking for assistance was an inconvenience to the other person. As I grew older, apologizing for pretty much everything I asked for and did not do became second nature; an expression of “politeness”. I would often catch myself saying:
I’m sorry but can you please help me? Sorry, can you please stop? I’m sorry, but may I ask a question?
A 2010 study shows that women tend to apologize more than men because we have a lower threshold for determining what is considered offensive behavior. Interestingly, while men will apologize just as much as women do when they believe they have conducted wrong doing, the reason why they apologize less is because they are more likely to believe they did not do anything wrong to warrant apology.
How did “I’m sorry” become such a normalized catch-all phrase that women tend to say even when unnecessary? That’s a good question I wish I knew how to firmly answer. I can say this is just one more thing that cultural expectations added to its long list of gender bias.
In order to break free of these expected gender roles, and to never second guess who you are as a person, here’s my list of things you should not apologize for:
1. Asking a question
There’s no such thing as a stupid question. We shouldn’t be sorry for wanting to gain more knowledge and clarity on a concept, idea or product in order to make a more informed decision about the topic at hand. Whether you are asking a question to the professor, your supervisor or the store associate, they will be there to answer your question to the best of their ability.
2. Reminding someone to complete a task
I found myself embarrassed when reminding someone to complete a task because I was hoping they would remember to do so on their own. You’re not at fault for someone else’s forgetfulness. They should be thankful that you reminded to complete a task that could have potentially got them fired if you were not around to save the day.
3. Being a slow runner
Some people don’t even run (or exercise) at all. There will always be someone faster than you yet who will also think they are too slow. A never ending cycle of self bashing.
4. Asking for a raise
I know the money talk can be awkward and sometimes intimating but quite frankly, you would not ask for a raise if you didn’t think you deserve it. I am willing to bet you are hard working, great at what you do and have a damn good reason to make you boss see the same.
5. Quitting your job
According to a recent 2014 study 47.7% of people are happy with their jobs. So f*ck it and do what makes you happy. A job at the end of the day is a job. There are plenty more out there to choose from that will be a better fit for your needs, goals and passion.
6. Not having children
It seems a lot of women get backlash for this yet people tend to forget it take two to tango – rarely do I encounter men being asked this question. Quite frankly, man or woman, if you don’t want kids, you don’t have to. Everyone has different goals in life and just because someone expects something of you never means it is required of you.
7. Taking shameless selfies
Everyone was hating on Kim Kardashian’s naked selfie on Instagram. Who cares? First of all, while people can hate, she still looks great at the end of the day. If a girl has a slamming body and feels beautiful inside and out why hate on their right to express her love of self? Let’s stop the slut shaming please. So you take those shameless selfies and feel empowered to express your body in the way you choose.
8. Driving the speed limit
I admit I am guilty of occasionally speeding. but the fact you are not only following the law but maintaining the safety of yourself and others around you is something that should not be frowned upon.
9. Poor service
As a customer, you have the right to demand good service, and services done correctly, especially if you are paying for it. If someone messes up on your order, kindly let them know and ask them to correct it. No need to say sorry for something you are not pleased with.
10. Wearing make up
Wearing make up is such a double- edged sword; apparently people expect us to wear just enough to enhance our natural beauty but if we wear too much, we look “fake.” Choose to wear make up not because you are insecure with how you look but because you simply love make up and you do it for yourself.
11. Not wearing make up
On the days I don’t wear make-up, people automatically think I look tired. (How rude). Perhaps you love the skin your in. Or you refuse to wear make-up because of harmful chemicals that can be found in certain products. You don’t need to justify why you don’t wear it. We were all born au naturel so not sure why this would surprise people.
12. Being over-dressed
I really hate when people say “You look fancy. Are you going anywhere?” Um, excuse me I love wearing stilettos with jeans, slacks because they are so chic and blazers because they look cool thank you very much. There is no such thing as being over-dressed. Plus, there’s something so satisfying about being (or believing) you are the best dressed person in the room.
13. Your beliefs
While not every one will share your beliefs, they are what makes you, YOU. If you believe in something you are passionate about, stand your ground and don’t let anyone shake you. Your opinion whether right or wrong, common or unpopular is what allows you to make informed decisions. As the saying goes “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
14. For saying no
I was always afraid to say no to my friends when they asked me to go out for fear of missing out or even to my coworkers when they needed something because I did not want to disappoint anyone. I soon realized that people would rather you be honest and up front instead of you saying something you don’t mean or promising something you can’t deliver. You have every right to decide what’s best for you and to decide what’s worth your time. Maybe you don’t want to take on that extra project your bossed asked of you because you are feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you want to stay at home and binge on Netflicks instead of going out. Don’t feel guilt-tripped into allowing someone else to make decisions for you.
15. Being yourself
Gay. Straight. Cisgender. Buddist. Young. Old. Silly. Serious. There is only one you in the world and you’re the best person for the job. Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are – not apologize because people may not like what you’re about.
16. Following your dreams
As a military brat, (with a long generation of military soldiers in my family), it was nerve racking for me to tell my father I would not be joining the Navy after I graduated college because I wanted to pursue my dream career in social media management and editorial. While he was not pleased with my decisions, (and I finally got over it), I could not live with myself following a dream that was not mine. Remember, you have only one life – make sure it’s the one you want.