We as women are constantly apologizing. I recently had a friend point out my constant need to preface my thoughts with “I’m sorry”. This stopped me in my tracks. I started to ask myself if in those moments I am actually sorry. There is a real difference between habitually apologizing for vocalizing my opinion or thoughts, and apologizing because I am remorseful for something I have said or done.
Why am I apologizing then? It is me trying to make myself smaller. The feelings of being too big, too opinionated, too strong-willed, too confident! Why are we as women continually trying to make ourselves smaller? Molding our personalities, our bodies, our belief systems, our parenting styles, and stuffing them into some roll or vision we never even created ourselves. This is certainly not a new thing, women have been trying to “fit in” for lifetimes. What is new, is the instant access to digitally filtered lives of so-called perfection. Whether that is in a photograph or someone’s words. It is in our faces 24/7.
We need to allow ourselves the space to be who we want to be. To stop apologizing for liking what we like. For looking the way we look. For parenting the way we feel is best. To feel comfortable being confident in ourselves. The freedom that comes with letting go of the idea that any particular person has it all figured out. There is no one else on this earth that is you! Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of the fact that our differences are a gift! We each have so much to offer each other. We lost the ability to listen to each other. To embrace someone else’s perspective. To hold space for people to just be where there are and who they are. The need to be right has super seeded our ability to be nonjudgmental.
This got me thinking about how I also feel the need to explain myself in addition to apologizing. I do this without even thinking. “I’m sorry I can’t make to __, I have……” I go on to a detailed explanation. This is not to say that there are not times where details are important, or that it is courteous to give more information. What is bugging me is that it is second nature. That it is uncomfortable to just respond with a ” No, I can not make it” or simply state my opinion or belief and leave it at that. I’ve been working on this but like all habits, it’s difficult to break.
I read a quote that said “The first rule of mental health: Learn to distinguish who deserves an explanation. Who deserves only one answer, and who deserves absolutely nothing.” I paused and read it again. Why was I giving so many people so much information all the time? I just kept reading that over and over. I was thinking about just how exhausting it is to feel the need to apologize or explain everything. Then I asked myself why I was giving so much of myself to so many conversations or situations? The giving of ourselves without boundaries…..
There it was, boundaries! That is my take away from that quote. Loving yourself enough to set healthy boundaries. Are there people who deserve your explanations and apologies? Absolutely! We also should feel confident in our abilities to distinguish those moments. To feel secure in knowing we can not just always be giving of our time, words, or presence. We need to set boundaries. To be unavailable sometimes. To not explain our needs all the time. Healthy boundaries are more than just speaking our truth, it can also be loving from a distance. There may be people you love, that are important to you. Those people may also be so engulfed in their trauma or pain they are unable to respect your boundaries. These are what I refer to as energy vampires. They are takers. Most of them are not doing so maliciously, but never the less are depleting your energy. You know if you have one in your life because you will feel completely drained when you leave them. It’s ok to say ” I love you, but I can’t be responsible for your happiness.” It is not our responsibility to take on other peoples burdens.
I am heading into the new year working hard to break old habits. I hope you’ll join me in getting to know who we are at our core. To unlearn what we’ve been taught about “fitting in”. Let’s stand out! Spend some time with yourself. Get to know what is important to YOU! Not what some articles, shows or books told you is important. We don’t know when our time is up. Why don’t we stop living out our clocks for other people?