If you're a woman, a gender-nonconforming person, or pretty much anyone who isn't in the most privileged position, you might be familiar with the feeling that you need to apologize merely for existing. There are so many things women shouldn't have to apologize for, but often feel like they do because they've been taught they exist to please other people. But the truth is, everyone deserves to be who they are as long as they're not hurting anyone, and nobody should ever have to apologize for that.
One area where women and other feminine-presenting people may especially feel the need to apologize is in the workplace. Our work tends to be devalued, which can be reflected in myriad ways: In the wage gap, in how often we're overlooked for promotions, in the fact that our clothing and language are policed to the point of absurdity, and more. Amidst all this, it can become easy to forget what our rights are at work — because we do have rights, and we are absolutely allowed to exercise them without needing to apologize for it.
No matter your gender, your race, or anything else about you, here are some things you're always allowed to do in the workplace, no apologies necessary.
1. Stating Your Limitations
Your only obligation at work is to do your job to the best of your ability. If your boss requests something you're not capable of, you have the right to tell them you don't think the expectation is realistic. As long as you're giving it your all, you have nothing to feel guilty about.
2. Asking For Money
Once, I was about to ask a potential client, "May I ask what you pay?" Then, a mentor told me to just say, "What do you pay?" Being compensated for work is a basic right, not a privilege, so we shouldn't tiptoe around requesting it.
3. Taking Time Off
When workplaces offer sick and vacation time, they expect you to use it. But often, people — women especially — feel like they're letting their companies down by not showing up as much as humanly possible. This problem gets especially prevalent when companies provide unlimited vacation. But taking time off is necessary for physical and mental health and shouldn't be a cause for concern as long as you're following your employer's policies.
4. Advocating For Yourself
If you don't assert your qualifications for a job or assignment or promotion, someone else who advocates for themselves will get it, so tooting your own horn is sometimes necessary and never wrong.
5. Voicing Your Opinion
Since we're more often interrupted and spoken over and less confident on average than men, it may be harder for women to believe our opinions are worth hearing. Men feel bad about voicing their opinions far less often, so we shouldn't feel so bad either.
6. Complaining About Mistreatment
If you are harassed, discriminated against, or otherwise mistreated at work, your priority should be to take care of yourself, not to protect the perpetrator from getting in trouble. Though reporting is a personal choice, you always have the right to talk to HR or a coworker you trust. You should never have to apologize for taking care of yourself.