This is a call to stop saying sorry for things you do not need to apologise for.
Because I’ve lost count how many times I’ve said the word “sorry,” for something that did not need an apology.
“Sorry,” when I popped in to a clothing store to have a quick look; ended up in there for no more than five minutes, but felt guilty that my partner was patiently waiting outside for me.
“Sorry,” when I didn’t have time to unload the dishwasher that morning.
“Sorry,” when we were out walking someplace and I really needed to pee; so we had to find a toilet.
“Sorry,” when sex was getting too sore so we stopped, but he hadn’t come yet.
I find myself apologising for the fact that I exist; that I’m human, and that I have needs.
My partner has picked me up on it a few times now; because he’s not interested in being with a woman who believes she is there to please someone else.
And I’ve witnessed other women do this, too. Never men, though.
Why is it that we have learned to feel sorry for simply existing in this world? For the space our body occupies; for the sound that escapes our mouth.
I have a few ideas why. Thousands of years of conditioning; of being taught that we are the inferior sex, and that we don’t matter. And we’ve grown up watching the women in our life apologise for the same damn things we now do. Our mum, her mum, and hers.
It’s as though women all subconsciously have a picture of what the perfect woman should be like. What she should do, and say, and not do, and say. And there’s no margin for the slightest of error. So when, inevitably, we fall short of perfection, we rush to apologise.
Sorry. When you haven’t managed to get to that task your manager sent you yesterday, because you’re still dealing with the ten other tasks still weighing on your shoulders.
Sorry. When you collide in the street with a stranger, even though it was him who wasn’t looking where he was going.
Sorry. When you slice the cheese in your son’s sandwiches, instead of grating it the way he likes because you forgot; and he comes home after school whining.
Sorry. When you’re having sex with someone new for the first time, and you feel the need to apologise for the way your body looks.
Sorry. When your husband’s white socks come out the wash a lovely shade of pastel pink, because something red ended up in there by mistake; and he’s pissed.
Sorry. When you’re running late because you had a million other things you had to do for other people, before you gave yourself permission to start getting ready to go out.
Sorry. When a group of people are standing in the middle of the street, obliviously blocking your way through, and you need to ask them to move.
Sorry. When you spend hours trying out a new recipe, and it doesn’t go down well with the family.
Sorry for not being a perfect woman, with a perfect body; and for not meeting everyone else’s expectations of perfection.
Because that’s why we feel the need to apologise, isn’t it? We think we’re failing as women, when we are unable to meet the impossible demands that other people place on us.
We’re not really sorry that we made a shitty dinner, or for the fact that you have to wear pink socks tomorrow and feel like a fool; or that our breasts don’t quite fill out a B-cup. No. We find ourselves saying sorry because we think—or we know—you expect more. You expect better. You expect perfect.
And of course, we’ll never get there. We’ll never be perfect. Because as anyone who has ever been in pursuit of perfection knows, it is merely an illusion.
So we say sorry. Sorry for not being able to reach the perfection bar that has been placed so high up in the sky that we cannot even see it. We’ll try and do better; we’ll try and be better.
And we spend the rest of our lives trying, and failing, to meet everyone else’s idea of perfect. And the rest of our lives apologising for falling short.
Stop. Stop saying sorry for things you do not need to apologise for.
Quit apologising for being imperfect. For making mistakes, and for failing sometimes. Because we all do. And we’re supposed to.
Stop saying sorry for taking up space in this world. For the way your body looks naked, for the way you love to dress, and for the thoughts and opinions in your mind.
Stop saying sorry for being selfish, and putting your own wants and needs above everyone else’s sometimes. Because, you may not realise this, but you matter.
Stop saying sorry for not being who they want you to be. Because you don’t owe them a dime.