When “I’m Sorry” Fails (Because It’s Stupid)

“Now say you’re sorry…” is a common direction given to young children as they learn to navigate the world and how to interact with others. However, as an adult woman, I find myself saying “I’m sorry” more often and for things I am actually not sorry for in the slightest. The world doesn’t see it this way, and The New York Times published a wonderful article by Sloane Crosley on this subject last summer. There is a science to female “sorry” and the word’s persistent presence in our vocabulary. I have become tired of saying “I’m sorry.”

The world wants me to be sorry. So, here you are world. I have written you a letter, because I am exceedingly polite, for which I am not sorry.

Dear World:

I am not sorry. I know you think I should be, and I know I say I am quite often. But the truth is, I am not sorry. “They” say that I often take things too personally, but I don’t. And if I do, it’s because I am a person. I am not a robot.

I was not designed by Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. I wasn’t engineered by Boeing. My body wasn’t molded as though I were a Gibson. I am not a Fender. I don’t have a serial number, and I wasn’t given a warranty.  Computer chips don’t run me, and I am not the woman of steel.

So world, here are a few things for which I am not sorry:

I am not sorry for feeling, having feelings, and expressing feelings. I am not sorry for taking offense to comments I find rude, insulting, snotty, hateful, or generally condescending.  I am not sorry for failing to see ridicule or belittlement of me as humorous. I am not sorry for not getting the joke. I am not sorry for not laughing.

I am not sorry for coping an attitude when I am pissed off. I am not sorry for fighting, screaming, pouting, or any other variant. I am not sorry for expressing negative emotions. I am not sorry for not being the woman that sits with her mouth shut and doesn’t defend herself. I am not sorry for not being built (pun intended) that way. I am not sorry for not bottling up my feelings. I am not sorry for not crying myself to sleep.

I am not sorry for wanting quiet recognition. I am not sorry for being smart and talented, and I am not sorry for needing to matter.

I am also not sorry for having a dissenting opinion amongst family, writing off bad friends, cutting off people that hurt me, being self-aware, having insecurities, failing to adult, bad parking, stinking at math, being short, knowing my shit, losing my shit, overdressing, ordering salad, overthinking, changing my mind, reading fluffy books in the summer, not understanding Derrida, and running like a duck.

Frankly, I am not sorry. Unless I have wronged you, and I acknowledged it, in some way. For that, I am truly sorry and I humbly ask for your forgiveness as well.

Thank you world, for your attention.

I find myself saying “sorry” and will be making a conscious effort to actually mean it. Apologizing means something. It is an act of remorse. And I am not sorry for the things that make me who I am.

If we begin apologizing for the very things that make us who we are, does that not suggest that we’re sorry for being a person? For existing?

I am definitely not sorry for that.

I want my words to mean something, and more than anything, I know that words carry meaning beyond simply what is on the surface.

“I’m sorry” are two of those words. They do imply an act of reflection. How does one realize remorse until after looking back on the event?

My life is about words and using them to create meaning. “I’m sorry” need to mean more than the simplistic value that they have taken.

I will need to take conscious effort to stop saying “I’m sorry” as frequently. I don’t even realize I’m doing it sometimes.

“I’m sorry.” But am I? And for what?

If I can’t answer that, I am not sorry. I am living, and I’m doing intentionally, out loud.  I think a better response would be “I meant that” or “on purpose.” I will have to ponder that because “I’m sorry” just won’t work for me anymore.


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