I guess it’s time to admit it. I need to go to AA — Apologizers Anonymous. I’m Elizabeth, and I’m addicted to saying sorry. (Insert a half-hearted choir of “Hi Elizabeth”s here).
Leading up to dances, I flood my group chat with “I feel so bad he has to go with me” texts, and while I avoid apologizing to my date for my presence (because that would be super freaking weird) the words “I’m sorry” are at the tip of my tongue at all times.
If I make a mess when babysitting, I feel awful for being bad at my job and apologize to the toddlers who only know about apologies from Sesame Street.
When I used to ask people to sign up for a Visa in my cashier days, I would feel so badly because of the 19% interest on the card. I was required to ask, but that wouldn’t ease the guilt of being a pawn in accumulating the American debt crisis.
Maybe my apologetic nature stems from my childhood days of being bullied by my imaginary friend Okey-Dokey-O to the point where I would give a meek apology to my imagination (I wish I was lying about this). But here I am, 18 years old, and still unable to end a sentence or start a conversation without adding a quick “sorry.”
To me, sorry is empathetic and helps resolve the burning guilt I feel when I knock over lifeless backpacks, mouth breathe or even just for daring to be in the same vicinity as someone. Everyone from my friends to the Hen House cashier just wants to shake my shoulders and scream, “Stop saying sorry!!” But if a little over apologizing helps me clear my conscience, then what’s the big deal?
I’m a somewhat rational gal (except for my dramatically high squealing when encountering bugs) and I see the point of view that my incessant “sorrys” come off as me being anxious and awkward. But the “sorrys” are an extension of my slightly (or overtly depending on who you ask) anxious and awkward personality. I’m fighting a losing battle defending my over apologizing habit, but I feel massive amounts of misplaced guilt — let’s blame that guilt on Catholic school, my go-to scapegoat.
Here’s my confession: I’m not that sorry for saying “I’m sorry.” It’s annoying — my friends have made that quite clear — but it’s a reflex. Sorry I’m empathetic, do you want me to be a psychopath? (Sorry that was sassy, you didn’t do anything to me, you’re the reader.)
While I may have apologized to my dance date for having accidentally messed up my nail polish because I thought he would be embarrassed by me, I have never apologized for who I am and my opinions. Almost every opinion I have is an unpopular opinion — I hate Pam failed-art-school-for-a-reason Beasley from “the Office” and think Seth Rogen is hot — and I’ll happily shout my ramblings across the room in English. Even for less trivial opinions, like sanctuary cities and the PayDay Loans scandal, I’ll stand firm and give my take without even considering dropping a “sorry.”
My apology habit may make me come off as a wishy-washy person, but I’m not ashamed of who I am — I just don’t want a micro action of mine to damper someone’s day. Maybe I’m just rationalizing my actions to feel less low-self esteem-y. I get the constant “I’m sorrys” make me seem guilty to others and creates an unexplainable internal guilt complex, but when I say I’m sorry, I mean it, even if it’s for something as small as dropping my own phone and instinctively saying sorry.
The meaning is what makes the apology, and if you look into my perpetual-pre-panic attack-mode eyes, you’ll know that I’m sorry. As a compassionate person who can even scrounge up some pity “awhs” for the murderers on “Law and Order,” apologizing is something everyone should do more often. Dodging responsibility and adding a huffy “but” after sorry happens all too often. Give into the guilt, say you’re sorry and mean it.
I’ve gone through the 12 steps and this will be my last meeting at Apologizers Anonymous — something I’m not sorry about (no promises on relapsing though).