I apologize. A lot. For everything. For nothing.
I bump into the wall, "I'm sorry."
I brush against your arm as I walk by, "I'm sorry."
I forgot to take out the trash, "I'm sorry."
The music was too loud when we got into my car, "I'm sorry."
And the list goes on. I've always known I apologize more than I should, but I didn't realize exactly how much until this past week while I spent time with my mom. Every time I apologized she told me to stop. And eventually before the words would come out of my mouth, I'd stop abruptly "I'm s- nevermind."
I wonder why I do this. The feminist in me says that it's because I feel like I have to make myself small around men, that I must apologize for being in their way or in their presence. That seems a little blame-y to me. (sorry!)
Sometimes I think I do it out of politeness, of not wanting to overstep. Or maybe it's because I'm a people pleaser, and when I don't please you, I want you to know that I wish I had.
Whatever the reason, I wonder if it takes away from the real "I'm sorrys" to apologize so much. Does it mean anything less the next time I apologize if I've done it thirty times in a week? Will you believe me, or think it's just a habit I've formed, meaningless and ritualistic?
I've seen so many things about what to say instead of I'm sorry. Most of them turn the situation from focusing on yourself to focusing on others. For instance:
"I'm sorry I'm late" turns into "Thank you so much for your patience."
This works twofold - it stops you from apologizing (which I have learned can be super annoying!) and it allows you to point out something good in someone else. In the above example, the person who waited for me when I was late deserves to be complimented for being a good friend.
I think we spend so much time focusing on ourselves and our flaws that we forget to look up and see other people sometimes. It's just as important to thank people for sticking around and letting us be flawed humans as it is to apologize for those flaws. Not all flaws are so terrible that we need constant forgiveness for them. So instead of putting yourself down today, lift someone else up.