I stopped saying sorry for a week and this is what I learned
In the immortal words of Beyonce, ‘Sorry? I ain’t sorry’
by Megan Ward
It is repeatedly reported that women say sorry way more than men do. We apologise for everything, from entering a room, to speaking up, to messaging someone. Now, I am usually the kind of feminist who thinks that rather than women becoming more like men, we need to start recognising traditionally female behaviour as equally strong but different. Being polite and nice isn’t a bad thing and maybe men need to take a leaf out of our book and start actually saying sorry at all. I know plenty of men I am owed many ‘sorrys’ off, just saying. Yes, shade intended.
But the problem with us saying sorry all the time, is we are apologising for actions which are perfectly reasonable – so then we enter what should be an equally weighted discussion from the starting point of us being in the wrong. By apologising for all of our basic actions we are basically apologising for our own existence and that’s something we should never do. Firstly for our own self esteem and secondly so it doesn’t subconsciously reinforce the idea that we are in the wrong to others.
So, I decided to set myself a challenge and stop apologising for a week. Here’s what I learned.
Oh my god it’s so hard I apologise way more than I thought
When I decided to do this, I knew I said sorry a lot, but wow I did not realise how much of an apologising doormat I was. Punch me in the face, I’ll probably apologise to you, that’s how bad I was.
Before I started this experiment, I was about to tweet ‘I’m doing an article and I can’t apologise for a week, so sorry if I come across as rude this week, I don’t mean it’. Seriously. I typed that all out, (with a kissy face emoji on the end, to keep it casual, I get social media) and then realised I was about to apologise for not apologising. That is insane. Pre-apologising just in case people thought I was being rude, before I even knew if they would notice. I deleted the tweet, but honestly, I still felt anxious.
Then in the actual experiment week, I had to stop myself so many times. I lightly bumped into my friend and we said sorry back and forth to each other four times. She’d done absolutely nothing and I had done basically nothing. By around day three/four I managed to break the automatic habit but I still felt a vague sense of guilt that I might be being rude to people that I still can’t shake. Eh, it will probably pass when I’m dead.
You should never apologise for having emotions and feelings
This seems obvious, but I began to notice apology patterns in myself and my friends. We would come to each other with problems and issues and then apologise for sharing this. We feel like a burden for sharing our issues and it’s not okay.
Here’s the thing, if you’re my friend, I’m happy to sit up all night with you and talk about your problems, hopes, dreams and fears and you should never apologise because I signed on for this. I want to be there for my friends in any possible way I can because I love them and I’m happy that instead of bottling things up inside they’ve got someone to share with.
You are human, you will have shitty emotions and sharing them with friends is to be welcomed, not apologised for. You are never a burden.
People don’t actually think you’re being rude
Or if they do, they keep it to themselves. Overall, people responded in the same way as they had before. When I started I thought people were going to think I was a bitch. Now, I don’t actually give a fuck about people thinking I’m being a bitch because at least that’s better than being an apologising doormat but the point is people aren’t going to think you’re a bitch just because you aren’t apologising. They’re more likely to just respect you a bit more.
If you’re a sweet, nice girl who does care about being thought of as a bitch removing the word ‘sorry’ from your vocabulary won’t change that. You will still be you and that’s great. It will just get you a bit more respect.
It makes you question your own behaviour for the better
The biggest change wasn’t from other people, it was from myself. Every time I go to apologise now, I think ‘hang on do I need to be apologising here’ and the large proportion of the time, I don’t. Not apologising for my basic actions made me feel about 10 times more confident and assertive within myself. It is empowering to begin a conversation believing that I am 100 per cent in the right, and not start from a place of doubt and insecurity.
This doesn’t mean that sometimes I’m not completely in the wrong and do need to apologise. For example, this week I got too drunk and I puked on the kitchen floor. That’s the kind of thing you definitely should apologise for. But opinions, thoughts and feelings? Not in the same genre as floor puke.
Removing the word sorry from your vocab for a week is something I 100 per cent recommend. It made me feel confident and a bit more respected, which is nice. We are still in a patriarchy though, so let’s be real, I may never truly know what respect feels like.
Tbh, the only problem is it makes pre drinks a nightmare
Honestly fuck you JBeibs and Beyonce for both releasing bangers called ‘Sorry’ this year. Couldn’t sing along to either. Wankers.