Don’t. Don’t apologize. Just stop it. Stop it now.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve apologized in the last two weeks. “I’m sorry, but” and “I’m so sorry to say this” and “I’m just really sorry.” And this weekend, I had an incident where I naturally started to apologize – again. As I was crafting my self-deprecating apology, I realized I did nothing wrong.
And the more that I centered around that, the more that I enveloped my fragile ego with the stout truth of my truly NOT being in the wrong, I realized that I was angry about it. I was angry that my natural response was to apologize. Blanket apologies. I’m the Oprah of unwarranted apologies. And YOU get an apology! (Sorry!) And YOU get an apology! (Sorry!) APOLOGIES FOR EVERYONNNNNEEE!
Don’t apologize anymore. If you were truly in the wrong, yes: apologize. Apologize and correct the error. But if something just went wrong, or something you could’ve fixed went haywire (but you weren’t asked to fix it), or you’re just in the line of fire – STOP APOLOGIZING.
Bryan came to my office and had lunch with me last week. It was a gorgeous day, so we grabbed lunch from the visiting food truck and sat outside in the sunshine. It was the day that I had suffered a mild Facebook breakdown* about the #BanBossy campaign.
*it was mild in both MY meltdown measuring system and mild for a meltdown to have occurred on Facebook. Man, Facebook is sometimes a trainwreck of Miley Cyrus proportions, am I right? God bless Zuckerberg.
My issue with the term “bossy” is not specific to women being labeled as bossy. I honestly think that the campaign should’ve been called “Ban Bitchy”, but let’s just acknowledge that the greater Facebook community is not ready for those bumperstickers just yet. Bitch, I take issue with. It’s been a long while since I’ve been called a bitch, but be aware that I have. Many times. Yet most folks who work with me – and most of my immediate coworkers are male – would never list “bitch” in the adjectives to describe me. But I have ovaries, so “bitch” comes with the territory. Especially when I’m asking a male coworker to do something he may not necessarily want to do.
While waxing poetic on the campaign, I mentioned that someone in my program once remarked to me that we still have a gender equality issue within our midst. I told him this surprised me because I honestly don’t see that. But she mentioned that every time she gave an answer – and she’s a female engineer – it has to be validated by a male peer before it’s considered “correct.”
“How do we raise our boys to be smarter than that?” I asked Bryan.
“I hope they won’t see the gender line at all,” he answered.
“They will,” I said, hopeless. “It’s there. Of course they will.”
“They know their mom is incredibly smart. Hopefully that’s enough. They see you working – hard – and hopefully that’s enough. You’re building the next great rocket, for heaven’s sake.”
So stop apologizing. Stop apologizing because your kids go to daycare or because you can’t make the class party or when you can’t make a late meeting because you have to pick up your kids. Do you know what happens when MEN in the industry leave early to pick up kids? They’re LAUDED. PRAISED FOR THEIR COMMITMENT TO THEIR FAMILY. What a great dad! they all say.
STOP APOLOGIZING. You are doing the best that you can. And I know that you’re like me: you work overtime like an insane person, picking up the slack of others so that you feel like you’ve proven yourself; you rush from work to pick up your kids, angry that you’ll have to slapdash dinner together again, wondering how badly your screwing up your kids; your weekends are no luxury, filled with a million chores and loads of laundry and soccer games and grocery lists, and there’s not enough hours in there to even sit down. You are like me. You have no time for yourself. You see pictures of yourself years ago, pining for the body you felt was too fat at the time and for the free time you thought was so scarce back then. You feel like asking for help is admitting defeat, and on the rare occasion that you do ask, it may be denied and you reel. You are like me. It doesn’t matter the industry, the wage, the career path.. you are like me.
I need to stop apologizing. I have never shied from accepting blame, and I will continue to do so – when it’s valid. But there is no reason to apologize as an opening or closing statement anymore.
You are like me – you love your kids more than the breath in your lungs, and you wonder every single morning if you’re doing irreparable harm to them by trudging off to a cube or a desk or a counter. You would take any harm or illness or downfall for your children. You second guess every single decision you make in parenting – and then second guess your second guessing. The sleepless nights of infancy simply morph into the sleepless nights of teenage angst and then the sleepless nights of missed curfews. You are like me, and I’m like you.
Don’t apologize to anyone who doesn’t deserve it anymore.
I am so, so proud of you and what you’re doing.