I Apologize For Everything

I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve always spent a lot of time saying, “I’m sorry.” In fact, it’s become such a habit that I don’t even realize I’m doing it anymore.

Today, the wonderful Miss Amanda Chatel and I were chatting about how much we love our jobs. (Seriously, Jen, that’s what we were talking about!) She mentioned a computer bug that was giving her some problems. My initial response was to say, “Sorry I didn’t notice that, I couldn’t helped you out.” I meant it, I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t picked up on the issue and helped take care of it quicker. Was it my job to do so? Not so much. But I still felt sorry.

Immediately, Amanda responded the way she often does when I apologize for things completely beyond my control. “Stop saying you’re sorry!”

Later on the day, I was giving her a head’s up that a piece was taking longer than expected. I didn’t want her to think I’d vanished or decided to take a nap. I am wearing yoga pants today, and there’s nothing more tempting than napping in yoga pants in the middle of the day. “Sorry I’m a little behind, this piece is taking me a while,” I messaged.

“DON’T YOU DARE APOLOGIZE TO ME, WOMAN,” Amanda yelled at me. No joke, she used all caps. But she pointed out something that I don’t notice much anymore. I say a lot of apologies.

It’s weird, because I’m a pretty opinionated person. I like to think I have a little confidence in those opinions. It would be hard to share them with the internet everyday if I wasn’t. Saying that you’re sorry all the time sounds like such a weak and insecure thing to do. That’s not how I like to picture myself at all.

And yet, there I am, saying I’m sorry all day long. Obviously, my perception of myself can be different than the one that other people have. This apology question has suddenly made me worry just how timid I seem to those around me, those I work with.

I don’t want to be seen as insecure. I’m a grown-up. I have my shit together. I have a successful career and a happy family. There isn’t much to make me question my choices and my decisions. And yet I always feel like I probably should be doing more. And then I apologize for not doing it.

Today has made me realize that I need to keep an eye on my apologies. Of course I want to give them when they’re merited. I’m not above admitting my mistakes and taking responsibility for them. But I think that I’ve reached a point in my life when I need to consider that apologies when used too often don’t just sound polite, they sound insincere. They sound unsure. That’s not the type of woman I really want to be.

I’m wondering if I’m the only one who has this problem. Does anyone else find themselves continually saying, “I’m sorry,” for things that are outside of their control completely? Do you think it makes people seem weak or lacking confidence? And do you agree to hold me to my new, more self-assured tone? I could use everyone’s help. And I’m not even going to apologize for the inconvenience.

(Photo: JStaley401/Shutterstock)

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    • KateS

      I do this ALL of the time. I’m fully aware of it, too. People have been telling me my whole life to stop it and I can’t. I (and my old therapist) feel that it has to do with my horrid mother from when I was a child, however I’m way past that now and I still can’t stop saying it. My friends actually GET MAD at me!! If you figure out a way to stop, please let me know!

    • Eileen

      I do, too. I’ve read before that this is something that women are socialized to do, so it’s not entirely your fault! But yeah, it’s not necessary to apologize for not being omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Nor is it necessary to apologize for having opinions that are different from your friends’, as long as you do your best to be polite and respectful about it. It just takes away from the times when you really have fucked up and owe someone a sincere apology.

    • Jenn

      I do this as well and like you feel it is a weird contradiction to my personality. In some cases when I say it though I mean it in a – sorry for you – kind of way, not really that I feel it is my fault. However, because I do say it a lot as a reflexive in the other way, I think people do think I am apologizing for things that have nothing to do with me. Which of course I fear makes them think of me as a doormat even more but I cannot stop myself! If that makes sense… My boyfriend tells me often to stop saying sorry and I actually think it stresses him out a bit, to which of course I say sorry. No I’m not kidding, I actually apologized for apologizing…

    • Jenn

      I do this as well and like you I feel it is a bit of a contradiction to my personality. In some cases though I say it in a – sorry for you – kind of way rather than feeling responsible for whatever is in question. However, because I also say it aso often reflexively in the other way, I think people do take it as me apologizing for things way beyond my control and I fear they look at me as a bit of a doormat. If that all makes sense… My boyfriend tells me all the time to stop saying sorry and I think it actually stresses him out a bit, to which of course I say sorry. I am not kidding, my reaction to being told to stop saying sorry is to say sorry… Yet despite all this I think I am a confident and secure person, I am really not sure where this quirk comes from!

      • Jenn

        Please excuse the two posts, something weird happened when I went to post the first time and my browser crashed so I wrote it again but then after I posted the second one the first one showed up! SORRY ;-)

      • http://www.facebook.com/lindsaychartman Lindsay Cross

        Hehe. No need to say sorry on this one. Though I promise not to get angry with you for saying sorry either.

        And thanks for letting me know that I’m not alone!

    • Mcnicholas smith
    • Emily

      I apologize all the time for things beyond my control. I’ve had family and friends ask me to stop and for a while my mom was telling me to stop apologizing all the time. I just feel a need to apologize for anything bad happening to some people…I can’t help myself.

    • Tania

      Are you Canadian? It’s one of our stereotypes. Best shown by a scene in Canadian Bacon where John Candy is pushing through a crowd of Canadians, elbowing them and everything, and everyone apologizes as he shoves them around.

      There is a book called “How to Be Canadian (Even if You Already Are One)” that has a whole chapter dedicated to the different kinds of apologies Canadians make.

      By which I mean, no one in Canada would probably even notice you apologize a lot. :D

    • Southerngirl

      I also am guilty of apologizing for everything. After many years of experience I have found that some people are more than willing and happy to let me assume responsibility for something that is in no way my fault. I try not to apologize, but I still find myself doing it. I hate that I make myself appear weak.

    • Sarah

      ALL THE TIME. Then people get genuinely irritated and you find yourself apologizing for apologizing…. the endless circle.

    • Amanda Chatel

      The next time Lindsay Cross apologies to me for something, I’m heading to her house to give her “what for!” Got that, Cross?

      • http://www.facebook.com/lindsaychartman Lindsay Cross

        I’m going to start apologizing even more just so you will come to Indiana.

      • Amanda Chatel

        I’m assuming that’s a state… and it’s near Ohio, right?

    • pattya

      yes! i do this too. just the other weekend i was laying on the couch with a terrible stomach ache, my best friend was in the kitchen i was apologizing that i didnt feel well and couldnt go to the pool. i received no verbal response but a text that said “today is no apology saturday.”

      i am trying to make everyday a “no apology day” it is hard but like other commenters i too am a pretty smart and quick lady, it is like my way of apologizing for that. i am really sorry but i really need to stop.