If you haven’t seen this video already, watch it before you read on.
No, really. Go ahead. It’s about a minute. I’ll wait. I want you to have context for what I’m about to write.
After thinking about being “not sorry” the last few days, I’ve been noticing how much I apologize for things I’m not really sorry for. My ten-year-old daughter has been listening to herself too.
I seem to be the one to move in hallway stand-offs. “Sorry.”
I apologize for facts. “I’m sorry, but I have a commitment that day.”
I say “sorry” for winning games. Which is funny since one of those games is actually called Sorry.
I even apologize for my needs. “Sorry about this, but that pizza isn’t gluten free like I ordered.”
And here’s the funny thing–I didn’t think I said it that much. Is it possible that “sorry” for me has become a habitual response like “fine” after someone asks, “How are you?”
I’m not a meek, submissive or passive person. I speak my truth and stand up for what I believe. My friend Dixie recently said, “You may be tiny, but I wouldn’t want to scare you in a dark alley.” So perhaps I’ve used the word sorry when I really meant something else. Maybe it’s been the stand-in for “excuse me” or “thank you” or silence. Lately I’m noticing I can just be silent instead of saying sorry because I want sorry to mean something. I want it to be as powerful as the word love in my life, because I have many legitimate apologies.
“I’m sorry I forgot the tent pole–the gold one that holds up the entire frame.” (Yes, it happened.)
“I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings. That was never my intention.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you fully when you had something important to say.”
These are the statements worthy of my sorries.
This summer I am considering my sorry state in my personal life and next fall I’m going to see how that transfers to my professional one. The truth is, I’m not sorry we bumped into each other in hall. We have bodies. Those things happen. I’m not sorry that I have plans and can’t attend a candle party. (I’m also not sorry that there are fifty million other things I’d rather be doing than attending a candle party. That’s just me.) I’m not sorry I beat you at Monopoly or Wii Just Dance and I’m especially not sorry about Sorry because you kicked me back to the start one too many times. And I’m not sorry when my needs impact other people. That’s what happens in a community when we are all trying to make it work.
My daughter Ahna and I are catching each other when we use sorry. She told me a story of how she made cupcakes for her sewing camp friends and one girl told her she didn’t like them. “I said sorry,” Ahna admitted. “But then I realized I didn’t mean it. At all.”
Apologizing is a pure and powerful gift for all parties involved. I don’t want to be the girl-who-called-sorry too many times. I’ll be saving my sorries for when I need them.