It is New Year’s Day.
We are in Auckland, New Zealand and have stumbled across an international tennis tournament. The tournament is not under the radar, but we do not follow the annual tennis schedule so, to us, it feels like a gift. The luxury of no other plans allows us to stroll down, wait in line, buy tickets and take our seats to watch some of the world’s best female tennis players. Such joy.
As we wait for play to begin my mind wanders through the possibilities the coming year holds. I am relaxed, happy, looking forward. It occurs to me; I am in exactly the right place, doing the work I am meant to be doing.
This year I will move forward with confidence.
I determine then and there this will be the year I stop making excuses, this will be the year I stop saying sorry.
This apology habit has been with me a long while.
Through my twenties I became overwhelmed by the busyness and mounting responsibilities in my life. As I felt increasingly overwhelmed my confidence crashed. As I struggled to cope I looked to others to let me know if I was doing okay. I abdicated responsibility and turned to those around me to rubber stamp my life, to deem it a success.
I was scared I was getting it all wrong and letting people down, but I figured if those around me thought I was okay, maybe I was okay. Pleasing people seemed a good route to weighing the odds in my favour. I started to apologise for myself, just incase.
I didn’t want to offend and I didn’t want to be too much. I didn’t want to disagree or cause conflict. I didn’t want your opinion of me to plummet and I didn’t want to look like a failure.
I decided if people liked me I was a success. I excused my behaviour when I feared it was not up to standard. I caveated everything.
Soon almost every sentence began with an apology.
I apologised if you interrupted me, I was probably talking too much.
I apologised if you disagreed with me, I was probably wrong.
I apologised if my kids were too much, I was not a good enough parent.
I apologised before I said what I thought, I was nervous it you might reject me.
I apologised before I asked for a favour, I was sure you were too busy.
I apologised before I shared my work, what if you didn’t like it?
I couched my life in excuses.
I was sorry if you didn’t think I was that great. I was sorry you had to put up with me. I was sorry I was such a burden.
But here is the thing.
This apologising was hurting me. With every unnecessary excuse and apology I was undermining myself. I was carving away another piece of what made me, me.
I was forgetting what I thought and valued. I was burying my opinions.
My work became bland, I became bland.
But I have been working on my confidence. I have been investing in myself.
I have discovered I need to love me first and foremost, before I worry about how anyone else feels about me.
I have rediscovered the person I had been hiding away.
I like who I have found.
I have healed and grown and it has been very good, and yet every now and then I notice this habit returning. This perpetual excusing of myself incase I am too much, too full of opinion, too loud, too confident, too sure.
But this is where it stops.
This is the year I stop apologising.
I will not apologise for taking up space.
I will be apologise for having a difference of opinion.
I will not apologise for my presence.
I will not apologise for my love.
I will nor apologise for my work.
I am brave enough now to say: if you don’t like me, that is okay.
I don’t need you to like me for me to like myself.
This is who I am.
How about you? Do you start each sentence with the word ‘sorry…’.
“sorry but can I just say…”
“sorry do you mind if I…”
Maybe 2019 is the year you take this word out of everyday circulation.
Maybe 2019 is the year you realise you have no reason to apologise for being yourself.
Big love x
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