I’m not sorry for speaking up at the table yesterday. The words were uttered in haste, a meek apology for stating my opinion when I worried it might contradict your own.
I’m not sorry for the time I moved my chair to make room for yours next to me. In fairness, I arrived first, and I know it is an act of common courtesy to give you space. Yet the rushed apology comes spilling from my lips all the same.
I’m not sorry for the time I spoke over you on accident, so eager to share my news that we both announced “Guess what?” at the same moment. “Oh, sorry, you go first.” I surrender my enthusiasm to listen to what you have to say.
I’m not sorry for saying exactly what I felt. It was raw, imperfect truth that took bravery to muster. Yet for some reason unbeknownst to either of us, I make my own utterances conditional on their convenience to the lives of others.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
I find myself articulating this phrase more commonly than even I realize. I cannot count the number of times I have hurried to say sorry for occurrences as simple and routine as breathing, moving or stating my thoughts. Though this is not a conscious act, it arises from something deeper, a custom that ever so subtly reminds women that our opinions are “less than” and should be shared only when they do not disrupt the status quo. Since when are we required to apologize simply for existing? We may not notice it in the moment, but it occurs every day, a barely-there reminder that perhaps we do not believe our voices are as valuable as we should.
Here is my challenge for you and for myself this year: stop apologizing for being who you are. The phrase “I’m sorry” exists for moments when a wrong has been committed, not when you have unwittingly intervened in someone else’s life or space. Be bold. Own your opinions. Speak up at the table and speak first when you need to be heard. The best way to combat a culture of “less than” is by embracing an “equal to” sense of spirit and worth.
I said it. I meant it.
And I’m not sorry.