My name is Erika, and I am a serial apologizer.
For example: Many "empaths" have a strong startle response, and I'm definitely one of them. (And by empath, I mean someone who is highly sensitive and empathetic, rather than the paranormal kind. I'm not discounting their existence as a possibility, there's just nothing paranormal about me.) Just last week, I opened the door to go into my apartment building and someone was on their way out. It startled me. I jumped a little and gasped, and before I knew it, "Sorry!" had already escaped my lips. Yes, I apologized because I was startled. Wasn't the first time, probably won't be the last.
If I almost run into someone at the store? Apology. If someone almost runs into ME at the store? Apology. If I think I've caused any kind of upset or annoyance? Apology. If I think you're mad at me, even if there's no reason for you to be? Apology. If I step on my dog because she's walking underneath me? Apology. If I think I've made an assumption or too bold a claim? Apology. FFS, I've been known to apologize for sneezing. "Sorry" might be the word I use the most in everyday life.
It's not all about saying sorry, though. It comes in many forms. Backpedaling from a confident-sounding statement because now I'm suddenly unsure how true it is or whether I'm putting words in someone else's mouth. Backing down from an argument because I never meant to upset anyone in the first place.
I used to write a lot of it off as politeness (after all, I am just trying to make everyone happy and be the least inconvenient I possibly can be), but the unfortunate truth is that it more often comes from a place of deep-rooted insecurity and self-esteem issues. My ex was the first to point out to me that when I pass someone in an aisle at the grocery store, I don't just say 'excuse me' (which, BTW, there's nothing wrong with), but I also drop my head, physically lowering myself as if my presence is what I'm excusing (which, BTW, there definitely is something wrong with). So that's fun!
I shouldn't be apologizing for being... well, me. And the rational part of me is well aware of that. But a lifetime of anxiety, depression, and low self-image takes its toll; when your internal narrative has been negatively focused for so long, you can't just change it at will. It's not like some switch you flip from "pessimistic self-loathing" to "confident self-assuredness." It takes time and effort. It takes practice. It takes strength. And it is a challenge.
|Tell 'em, Demi!|
This week, I'm going to really try (keyword, folks - TRY) to be unapologetically me. And it might be a lot for some people to handle. You think I post a lot on social media now? Imagine what I'll share if I'm not worrying whether it's too much or if anyone cares. Think I'm too emotional? Phew, I got news for y'all... most of you ain't seen nothin' yet.
I am goofy. I am passionate. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I find humor and happiness in strange things. I love to share with people. I am nerdy. I am sweet. I am fierce. I am cute AF. I am fun. I love to be lazy. I have strength even I didn't know I had. I am weird by some's standards and too normal by others'. I am easily excited. I care deeply. And I love even more deeply. Basically, I'm pretty awesome.
And for this week, I'm not going to be sorry for any of it. Starting... now.