Pre-warning: I use the word dickhead a lot in this piece. Sorry not sorry.
There has been something I’ve been wanting to get off my chest for a little while. It’s something about me that you may have already realised but to others this may come as a total surprise. It’s something that I’ve suffered with as soon as I could talk, sometimes it goes away for a while and other times it completely takes over and the only thing I can say is “sorry” because I am a serial apologiser. Yep. There it is. The thing that looms over my head with every conversation I have or decision I make. The reason I stumble over my words and continually check in with people just incase since we last spoke they haven’t realised how annoying I am and no longer want to be my friend. The source of bedtime anxiety as I run through every conversation I’ve had that day just to make sure I wasn’t too abrasive, opinionated or loud. Doesn’t this all sound fun?! The pattern goes something like this: Guilt, overthink, apologise, repeat. Now, I’m not saying that saying sorry is an inherently bad thing. In fact, saying sorry when you’ve been a prize dickhead is 100% a GOOD THING. But feeling the need to back up everything you do with an apology, excuse or pre-planned explanation is, in my opinion, ridiculous, and I can say that because I am a serial apologiser and I say sorry for everything I do and it’s the truth.
Last night I had a dream where I was at a hen party with various people from my life and we were in New York. It definitely wasn’t my hen party but there were different women from my childhood, school life, University pals and work colleagues all together to celebrate. Throughout the dream I felt guilty. The dream me had a horrible knotted feeling in her stomach like I’d done something horrific wrong. This feeling was with me whilst we went to a theme part, wandered around times square and during a dinner party which is the most vivid part of my dream (Side note: I love how decadent this dream hen party was). Everyone was chatting, but for some reason I felt like I was being ignored and not involved in the conversation. I was desperately trying to figure out what I’d done to warrant this attitude and just as I was mustering up the courage to ask what was going on, I blurted out a huge great big apology. My mouth wouldn’t stop and I was spewing out sorry after sorry despite having NO IDEA what I had done wrong in the first place. I was apologising for arriving too early to the airport, for being bossy during group activities, for talking too much, for being irritating. I started apologising for things I’d thought I’d done wrong but this evolved into a garbled speech of making excuses for my personality and who I am. I had made a presumption that everyone was angry with me which lead to guilt which lead to other thinking which lead to apologising and it turned out that no-one was angry at me in the first place and I’d made up this whole scenario which had completely plagued my experience of the hen party and what potentially could have been a v.enjoyable dream – THANKS 4 NOTHING BRAIN. When I woke-up, I felt the sweet relief that the whole thing was a dream but also the shattering realisation that this isn’t such a far fetched situation from my normal life after all and being able to watch the dream me going through this scenario, meant I could see it objectively and finally realise how fucked up the whole thing is. It’s exhausting and unnecessary and a complete waste of brain space, time and energy and it’s because of this very dream that I’ve made a decision:
I’ve decided to give up saying sorry.
When not wanting to go to a social event I am going to communicate this by being 100% honest. eg. Texts that are sent last minute along the lines of “Hey, I’m so so so soooooooo sorry but I’m not going to make it tonight because I’m a terrible person and I’m so tired, like absolutely exhausted because work has been so hectic and if I come I’ll be awful company and I just need to have a night to myself and please please don’t hate me and text me back within 5 minutes so I know you’re not angry with me and I’ll make it up to you I promise” will be replaced with “Hey, I’m not going to be able to make it to the party tomorrow, I’m really tired and need to have an early night. Hope you have a great night”. The key thing here is to be honest without being a dickhead. This means communicating the information as soon as you know, telling the truth, being nice about it, and then moving on with your day without feeling any guilt what-so-ever. You never need to feel shame about prioritising yourself over a social occasion because:
- Good friends will completely understand if you don’t want to do something and as long as you are honest there is no need to feel guilty
- If they do try to make you feel guilty for prioritising yourself over a social event then you need to ask whether they are good friends after all
- Although we might think that our friends will spend the whole time wondering why we’re not there and being angry about it, generally people are more concerned with having a good time and if they do act in this way then refer back to point number 2
Here are some over things I’m going to stop saying sorry for and/or making excuses for:
- Ordering the food I want to eat in a restaurant e.g. no more excuses as to why I’m choosing what I’m choosing and giving the waiter a play by play recall of everything I’ve eaten that week which therefore warrants my choice
- Delayed responses to messages via text, WhatsApp, one of the other million platforms we’re expected to keep up with
- Not being up to date on everyone’s blog posts/social media posts
- Looking tired
- Deciding not to wear make-up
- Being loud
- Being affectionate
- Giving my opinion e.g. not starting a sentence with “I’m sorry but”
- Taking up space – mentally & physically
- Being opinionated
- Being in my pyjamas when answering the door to a postman/woman
- Not being able to keep in touch with every friend I’ve ever made, all the time
- Prioritising my mental health
- Prioritising rest
- Prioritising time to be alone
- ANY OF MY CHOICES (UNLESS I’M BEING A DICKHEAD)
Not only am I going to give up saying sorry. I’m also going to give up feeling guilty for making these decisions and putting my own needs above the needs of others. It is not selfish to prioritise yourself and we should be able to live this way, unapologetically.. unless we’re being a dickhead. Because if it warrants an apology, we should make one, a sincere one, a timely one and then we should move on.
Embracing who we are and prioritising our joy should never need to be excused or followed by an apology because in doing this, you are doing nothing wrong. Also! If you’re someone who wants to cancel on me, I’ll never actively try to make you feel guilty and I’ll never shame you for being who you are are.
Just don’t be a dickhead 😉