12 Things No Woman Should Apologize For
Like many women, I'm a (recovering) compulsive over-apologizer — right now, I'm actively striving to reduce the number of times per day that I say "I'm sorry." And I have a lot of work with — I've said "I'm sorry" for turning down a date, reminding colleagues that they're woefully late in getting me something I desperately need, not being "dressed up enough" at a casual happy hour, and saying "no" to completely unreasonable requests. I'm far from alone — the Scientific American reports that women apologize more frequently than men. This information probably doesn't shock anyone — but the more interesting finding is that women actually feel they commit more transgressions than men, which is the real reason we apologize more.
My takeaway from this study is that it is a good idea to think long and hard about whether a certain situation truly warrants an apology. Yes, we're all imperfect human beings, and everyone makes mistakes. We sometimes say unkind things during an argument, hurt a loved one's feelings, or drop the ball in a major way at work. In situations like this, it's appropriate and mature to express a sincere apology — and then learn from our mistake and move on.
But we don't have to throw around the phrase "I'm sorry" in a way that implies our accomplishments, choices, and existence are something to apologize for. So if you're looking to cut down on your "sorry"s, too, here are twelve things that definitely do not warrant an apology:
1. What We Choose To Eat
Our diets are our business and no one else's. If you're at table full of women ordering salads and you happen to be craving a burger, go for it — no apology or explanation needed. Some people love kale smoothies, but plenty of us don't (*raises my hand*) and life's too short to feel bad about our choices or worry what others might think about the foods we eat.
2. Turning Down A Date
No one enjoys hurting other people's feelings, and it often feels awkward when a perfectly nice person asks you out and you're just not interested in them. But don't apologize for not being attracted to someone. It's 100 percent possible to turn them down in a polite, respectful manner, so you don't need to feel guilty or apologize.
3. Being Ambitious
Being ambitious is something to be proud of. But since opportunities don't simply fall into our laps, we often have to be go-getters and talk to our bosses about the things we want, like raises and promotions.
Again, these conversations can be respectful and cordial. If you feel you've earned a raise or promotion, you can calmly and rationally lay out your case — there's no need to preface it with an apologetic statement like, "I'm sorry, but I can't live off this current salary." Instead, you can focus on explaining that you deserve it because of what you've accomplished over the past year. It's your right to expect to be rewarded for excelling at your job.
4. Putting Yourself First
If you don't make your health and happiness a priority, you're doing a huge disservice to yourself and your loved ones. It's not selfish to make decisions based on what will make you feel happy and fulfilled, and we're better friends, family members, and significant others when we look out for ourselves. So don't feel like you have to say "sorry" when you need to turn down social plans because you're exhausted, overwhelmed, or just don't feel like it.
5. Saying No
It's more than OK to say "no" to things that make you uncomfortable and requests that are simply not feasible at the moment. Saying "no" doesn't require an apology. End of story.
6. Expressing Our Emotions
It's not healthy to force ourselves to hide our emotions — and know that people who are consistently stoic are not any stronger or better than those of us who need the occasional sobfest. Don't be ashamed of your tears or feel like you need to apologize profusely to anyone who had to witness them. Showing your vulnerabilities actually takes courage.
The same goes for anger — while screaming and yelling often aren't appropriate, it's OK to tell someone you're angry and explain why. Emotions are perfectly natural and they're not something we should need to apologize for.
7. Having (And Voicing) Strong Opinions
We should never feel like we have to apologize for our opinions and beliefs. There are always going to be people who disagree with us, and that's OK — a healthy, respectful debate is a good thing. And if someone thinks that an opinionated woman should apologize for caring about what's going on in the world, then they're definitely not worth your time.
So don't feel like you have to apologize for having a different opinion than a friend, family member, or significant other. We can respectfully disagree with people without prefacing our viewpoint with an apology.
8. Ending A Toxic Friendship
Sometimes, friendships turn toxic. If you have a friend who mistreats you through actions, words, or both, there's no need to apologize for ending the friendship. You deserve pals who treat you respectfully, and you don't need to say "I'm sorry" when you're cutting off an unhealthy friendship. You're taking care of yourself — and that never requires an apology.
9. Asking For Help
Seeking help and support is nothing to be sorry about — and there's no shame in occasionally feeling overwhelmed, lost, and unsure about what your next step should be. It's a sign of strength and humility to admit that you're in over your head.
10. The Way We're Dressed
We all know it's probably not a great idea to show up to a wedding or a workplace dressed in sweatpants or short shorts. But as long as you're not violating any dress codes, wear whatever the heck you want — no apologies necessary. If you don't feel like putting on make-up before a party and you prefer to attend Sunday brunch in your sweats, go for it. Is it hurting anyone? Nope — so saying "I'm sorry" doesn't make much sense.
11. Expressing Our Needs
If your needs aren't being met at work, at home, or in a relationship, speaking up is the best thing you can do. This doesn't mean that we should expect our bosses, partners, or family members to jump in and fix things for us while we sit back and relax. But expressing our needs is the crucial first step to working together on a game plan that'll allow you to thrive and feel fulfilled — which definitely does not warrant an apology.
12. Being Proud Of Our Accomplishments
Taking pride in our accomplishments is healthy and it definitely doesn't make us arrogant. Sure, no one needs to constantly brag about all they've achieved — but when we've worked hard for a promotion or a strong GPA, we shouldn't brush off these accomplishments by bashfully chalking them up to "good luck." We achieve our goals through competence and work ethic. When we're good at something and we work hard at it, we shouldn't apologize for being proud of ourselves.
So, what do you say? Consider joining me in the challenge to reduce the number of times we apologize for things that don't warrant an apology. After all, you have nothing to lose except a few dozen "sorry"s.
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