I Left “Sorry” in 2016

I left the word “sorry” in 2016.  I say that word too often. I tend to start sentences with “sorry” as a way to announce myself. I say sorry whenever I’m talking to another person and they emote something other than glee. And I’m the one to apologize every time I’m bumped, pushed, or crowded in this packed city.

Women over-apologizing is both my biggest pet peeve and something I am often guilty of doing. Women, in general, apologize way too damn much. What are we apologizing for? For being heard? For taking up space?

There have been multiple studies that prove men take up a lot more space, but we never hear any remorse from them. Men never feel the need to apologize for dominating conversations and spaces, and yet women will say sorry before they even ask for anything.

Admittedly, the word often bookends most of my sentences:

“Sorry, do you have a minute?”

“Sorry for bothering you.”

“Sorry for whining.”

Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.

I finally realized I had a problem with the word sorry a few weeks ago when I walked into work and someone else was sitting at my desk.

“Oh, by the way, we’ve moved your desk,” a colleague said playfully.

“I can see that,” I said through a pained smile, internally reminding myself how much I enjoy and need my job, and to not look as annoyed as I felt.

The new coworker and I did an embarrassing dance as I tried to maneuver around him and remove my personal items from what was once my desk. “Sorry,” I said as I grab the personal effects I’ve accumulated over the past 3 months. “I’m sorry,” I said as I emptied my snack drawer.

But as I placed my things on my new desk, I realized how fucked it was that I apologized for being inconvenienced. In that moment I finally saw that I, like a lot of women, preemptively apologize even when the fault is not my own. 

I apologize too much for being human.

I’m letting go of the word “sorry” and all of its bullshit gendered hang-ups. From now on, I refuse to apologize for things I shouldn’t be sorry for. I’m not sorry for taking up space. I’m not sorry for speaking my mind. And I’m not sorry for things that are beyond my control. My only regret is that I didn’t leave“sorry” behind sooner.

Feminist, activist, writer, and horror movie aficionada. She’s currently trying to lose her Virginia drawl in NYC. Tweets nice things @JenikaMc