“It doesn’t matter what they say
In the jealous games people play
Our lips are sealed
Pay no mind to what they say
It doesn’t matter anyway
Our lips are sealed”
~Our Lips are Sealed, The GoGos~
Ever notice that women feel the need to constantly apologize to others, for well, things they need not apologize for? We apologize for being too late when we overbook and over volunteer ourselves. We apologize if we do not think we communicated in our own “perfection” time frame with emails to colleagues, before publically speaking if we feel not 100% prepared, for sending out Christmas cards in (gasp) the “correct time frame.” We apologize too much for being overbooked, busy, and imperfect human beings. By apologizing, we all ourselves to be instantly judged right off the bat. I never judge a late card in the mail, I’m grateful for the gesture. I have given my best public speeches on the fly and the audience had no clue how little or copious my time was preparing. I have to admit that I have fallen victim to what I will refer to as “the woman shame sorry trap.” I have been overcommitted and apologized for being late to an event I volunteered for. I have started professional emails with apologies for timeliness, length of necessary information, and what I was imploring I need from colleagues. I’ve given out gifts later than birthdays and apologized when giving a dear friend something I have carefully selected. I’ve apologized when I’ve run into others in public not dressed up, fresh from a run, without make up on, sick and getting medication etc.
I’ve been the I’m sorry woman and while inviting instant judgment of others; painfully judged myself in the process.
I had an a’ha moment this past week with another woman (a past friend, coworker) in a public place. I stood at the entrance of a local Meijer practically still dripping with sweat from the gym, loaded with groceries and my huge gym bag, hair literally in a banana clip, not wanting to be seen while waiting to be picked up. In walks this woman and we instantly make eye contact. Mind you, it was brought to my attention by a mutual friend that this person has said some horrible and untrue things about me. This woman was someone I had once invited into my home when she had recently moved and offered up dinner and wine. This woman was spiteful and did not wish me well-at all-with very hurtful actions. This was probably the very last person I wanted to run into, much less in my current state. I felt a slight twinge of pain and then started to overcome with guilt for my current state of how I was going to “run into her.”
My a’ha moment came from making eye contact, smiling, and simply saying hello. Not trying to hide, not apologizing for being a hot sweaty mess in public, not a fake apology to try to figure out her exact intentions. I did not hurl accusations or even mutter bitch under my breath. I did not allow myself to be judged, judge her, apologize for being human, imperfect and easy to “kick while down.” I treated her the exact way I would want to be treated-straight forward, polite, without malice, and guilt free. By not allowing her to judge me further, I dropped the “I’m sorry shame” and moved forward with my day.
A few years ago, hell even a few months ago, I would’ve stammered out an apology for my appearance and tried to use that shame to correct a situation I had no control over. I would’ve left feel dejected, ashamed, embarrassed, and judging myself in second by second playbacks of the interaction. Ever notice how much more enjoyable life is when we drop our shields of imperfection and can finally genuinely connect with another person?
This was a meniscal interaction in the scheme of lives. People are going to think what they want and put their own judgments on others (possible projections) regardless of what you do. Women will sadly tear each other down (Entire other blog topic.) Women will continue to overapologize for being imperfect. The cycle will continue. Its important to “own your shit” when you need to be an accountable. Its just as important to “disown your shit” when needed. Knowing the difference is an evaluation of priorities. Understanding this is not allowing any of that to percolate into our own assessments and judgments. Stop apologizing for being your authentic self. Stop opening the door for extra judgment right off the bat. Stop apologizing for things that do not matter and reserve the apologies for when its genuinely, sincerely needed t o be stated.
I challenge you all to “disown your own personal shit” and just BE! Rock the banana clip, go out in public after the gym, take a sweaty selfie, be polite, treat others as you want to be treated, understand friendships change, be kind to yourself, and for God’s sake–STOP saying you are sorry!