Lately, I have been obsessed. A woman possessed with a mission. ‘A mission’ you say? Yes. A Mission. Not a death defying, James Bond epic mission but a mission none the less. I, Leah, am stopping my non-apologetic ass from saying Sorry. All. The. Time. I don’t know if it is just because it was something that I had gotten into my head so I am very aware of it now, but I feel like I am seeing about this everywhere on social media. I’m sure it’s just those algorithms. (Have you watched The Social Dilemma? Finish this and then pop over to Netflix and check it out. You’ll hate your phone afterwards!)
Let me stop rambling and get to the point. Apologising is, firstly, a very British thing to do. It is such an overused word in our culture. It’s a way we show how polite we are, even when there is nothing to be, in the actual sense of the word, sorry about. Someone walks into us and we say sorry to them. We walk into an inanimate object and we apologise to it. It’s a very British response. In fact, a study from a couple of years ago revealed that as a Brit, we say sorry an average of 4380 times a year and that nearly 90% of us confirm we say sorry as a response to, well, anything, but certainly for things that are not our fault. There is even a BuzzFeed list on ’65 things British people will say sorry for’ so you know it’s ‘a thing’. (My choice in bread means I’m going to get married in a year, in case you were wondering).
Secondly, guess who is more likely to say sorry for things that are not their fault? Oh, you guessed it. Women. We ladies use words like ‘just’ and ‘sorry’ far, far too much. We have been trained to apologise for even speaking. Since the middle age’s women have been penalised for speaking up or putting themselves forward. Whilst we no longer get put in the Scold’s Bridle and paraded around town when we ‘nag’ (ergh, that word can do one as well) our man-folk, we still apologise for anything deemed vaguely assertive, even if it isn’t. Men haven’t been trained in this way. They have a higher threshold of what they deem to be offensive behaviour. They aren’t deemed offensive for simply working and doing their job, for example.
So many times, over the last couple of weeks, I have started typing an email and started to type the dreaded word and had to stop myself. What was I apologising for? Being busy with work so that I couldn’t reply to an email within an hour or so? Not answering a phone call because I was already on the phone? I had nothing to apologise for in any of these instances. Annoyingly, the other day, I was walking through a corridor at work and a man (who we lovingly call Rag n’ Bone man) comes walking around the corner and we do the swerve dance, and out comes that slippery little sucker of a word from my mouth. Sorry! It contributes to our lack of self-confidence, it is self-demeaning and we are as every bit as worthy as the men that we work with. Do they apologise for not being able to take a call? No.
We also need to stop apologising in a social setting. If someone asks us to do something and we don’t have the time, energy, or plain just don’t want to do it, we should be free to say no without apology. We are not wronging someone because we don’t want to go to their dinner party (parties – remember those?) and we shouldn’t apologise if we simply do not feel well enough physically or mentally to help someone with something. Our time is valuable, we need to stop acting as if it’s free to all.
This is why I am on a mission to stop apologising. Instead, I have thanked people for their patience. I haven’t explained myself to someone when there was no need for it. I will not devalue my time, my presence, my being anymore. Let’s stop saying sorry 4380 times a year and stop devaluing us, and the word to boot.
Sorry, not sorry.