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Why Are You So Sorry?

by: Ruthann Mckenzie

"I'm sorry, I'm not sorry." There was a commercial by Pantene about women saying sorry in situations where there was no need to apologize. That made me think, how often do women say sorry when we have no need to be? For instance, if you are in a meeting and a man may interject his point of view at any time he will never apologize for such. Yet, typically if you speak up in a meeting, you may apologize if a person looked like they were about to speak and you cut them off briefly. Or if they spoke at the same time you were about to say something then you may apologize. Why is that? What you need to say may be equally important, yet we as women learn it is rude to speak when someone else is speaking, so we apologize.

I think the biggest thing I've ever apologized for and watered down was my ambition. Being a woman and being overly ambitious seems to be looked down upon. Isn't it possible to be an effective and amazing employee and your home life as a mother not suffer? Why shouldn't we be able to aspire to do it all without apologizing that our goals and standards are high. We have apologized for shooting too high, aiming low, or kinda sorta stay in the middle. However, there should be no sorries given for high ambition. Sorry, I'm not sorry.

Is there a such thing as being overly ambitious? Can a person, more specifically a woman, be too ambitious? And if we are, is that wrong? Do we get labeled differently if we shoot for the stars, moon, and the sun? Are we just to shrink back because the world tells us we should? Sorry, I am not sorry that I love to learn and do as much as I can. My time on this earth is short, why not leave a legacy that will be told through the ages? I am sorry, I am not sorry that I have a goal to do such an ambitious task. 

I do not want to be rude with my lack of apologies, but I will rather properly utilize the word sorry. We all should properly utilize the word sorry.  The definition of sorry means that one is sympathetic of misfortune or in a pitiful state. Most times as women when we say sorry, we are doing it in a way to seek permission to do something. I know I have done this numerous times at work.  I will walk up to a group of men clogging the hall and say sorry as I break up their impromptu hallway meeting.  What do I need to be sorry for? Me walking through was not rude to them, yet it is so natural to apologize as if my presence created an issue. Well you know what, sorry, I am not sorry anymore.

We are not suppose to sit back and never give our input. It is not a terrible thing if we use our voice and speak up. There is nothing wrong with asking questions or providing answers. There is room enough in this world for women to lead and shine without apologizing for it.  Absolutely nothing is wrong with speaking up, being ambitious, learning or asking questions. If you say sorry to seek approval or ask permission, then break that habit. Use the word sorry in appropriate settings.  If you spill someone's drink by accident, say you are sorry once and offer them a new one. That would be an appropriate usage of the word "sorry".  One must question the person, male or female, that is threatened by a lady's presence. That lady should not have to apologize for being where she is intended to be. That would be an example of the wrong thing to be sorry about. 

Apologizing when it is not necessary actually hurts our self esteem. In some way or another we feel we are not good enough, our voice does not matter, and that should warrant an apology.  This should not be the case. Our voice does matter, our confidence rises when we do not apologize for something we did not do wrong.  The more we speak up actually, the stronger our confidence becomes.

So what can you say, "sorry, I am not sorry" about now?  Have you been apologizing because you received a promotion instead of celebrating it? Or perhaps you take care of your children and you did not clean the house so you have been unreasonably hard on yourself? Did you shrink back when you know you should have spoken up? Well today is the day and there is no moment better than now to stop apologizing for things you did not do wrong.  Do not apologize for being a human, and most of all do not apologize because you are a woman.  That Pantene commercial made a great point, there is no need to say sorry if you did no wrong.

Stand with me in no longer being sorry.

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