Santa's not sorry. (Although he should be!)
Did Santa ever offer a heartfelt apology to Rudolph for his blatant cruelty and prejudice
against his red nose that wasn't based on the fact that he needed a favor from him on
Christmas Eve? Nope. Did Mrs.Claus apologize to Rudolph to smooth things over?
I think we all know the answer to that. ;)
An article centered on not saying you're sorry may not appear to be in sync with the loving messages of the holiday season. And for that, I'm sorry. HA! Just kidding. Nope. I'm not sorry. This happens to be on my mind and if I wait until January 2nd, it may be lost forever to whatever is lurking in the shroud of mystery that is 2020.
At the risk of sounding full of myself (again, not really sorry), I feel this is a tiny gift from me to womankind and I hope you receive it as such and unwrap it and snuggle up warmly beside the glow of it and let the glory of its message wash over you in an avalanche of sparkly holiday snow and hot cocoa. With extra marshmallows.
In the spirit of giving, and of loving and cherishing ourselves, I'd like to talk about two words: I'm sorry. Actually, three words boiled down to two by way of an apostrophe. And now, let's toss another word into the mix: Women. (Don't get bent out of shape by my focus on women in a "traditional" way...I am aware that there are a wide variety of sexual orientations going on out there and I respect them all, but I am a woman in the traditional DNA sense of the word and this is the perspective I can talk about with certainty!).
And with this on the cookie table, I have one looming question –
What is it in female DNA that causes us, generally speaking, to apologize for every freaking thing?
As women, we are often covertly taught and raised and socialized to be sorry for pretty much everything. You roll your shopping cart over my toes at Trader Joes? "Ooops. Sorry!" You're talking on your phone and bump into me on the street and knock my coffee onto my pale pink cashmere scarf. "Sorry!" You bring me fries with my steak instead of the roasted red potatoes I ordered, and I have to send it back to the kitchen? Oh no. "So sorry! "
What. Is. Wrong. With. The. Above. Scenarios.
Whether we are totally at fault, partially at fault, or not even one gazillioneth of an iota at fault, why is it that we so often automatically feel the need to smooth things over, make things "right" and make everyone else but ourselves feel all sorts of comfy and cozy and not responsible?
I mean, you would think we'd expect someone else, the party responsible for the other 50%, (or 60 or 70 or 80 or 90 or 99 or 99.99 percent) to apologize. But no, in order to avoid the discomfort of conflict, in order to make someone else feel better and off the proverbial hook, in order to bring peace to the situation, we offer up those two often completely unwarranted words – "I'm sorry"– with no purpose other than to end the discomfort.
It's a boatload of (insert expletive here _____ ) and we, as women, need to stop doing it right now.
I've become increasingly aware of the extent to which I've been conditioned to do this for many years now and have made a concerted effort to stop. And I've made great progress, for the most part. But socialization is a tough nut to annihilate. It's not like changing your brand of mascara. I've felt like I've been making some real progress, especially in the wake of my son's death (trauma and grief is a great force for lowering a woman's BS tolerance!), but earlier in this holiday season there was an incident where I blurted the "I'm sorry" thing a handful of times, even though the incident in question didn't warrant it. And I left the scene of the crime feeling battered and bewildered. Mostly, I felt angry at MYSELF for having stood there oozing I'm sorries, feeling like a four-year-old who was just scolded by father, and was left wondering, "Why the hell did I keep saying I'm sorry???!!!" A question that led to the Googling of an assortment of YouTube videos answering the question, "Why do women apologize so (insert another expletive here _____ ) much when it's not necessary or when we're not even in the wrong?"
And I stumbled upon a number of answers, including a great Mel Robbins (strong-willed Boston business woman and motivational speaker) video where she addressed this very topic and I felt so empowered and also so finally and forever done with the whole "apologizing out of habit" thing.
Women: stop apologizing. Of course, if you've done something heinous or feel truly terrible about something you've done or said, by all means, apologize. Profusely, if necessary. But STOP taking the blame for things that aren't your fault. And STOP demeaning yourself by feeling like it's your job to smooth everything over and make everyone else feel all okee-dokee.
Because I have a news flash: It's NOT in the job description. When we come out of the womb, we don't look up at our mother and say, "I'm sorry dear mother for the three days of labor and your now unrecognizable vagina." "Oh, and I also apologize in advance for the unbelievable amount of horrendously stinky poop I'll be producing for the next two years or so. Which I will expect you to wipe from my precious bottom without complaint. Because I'm so adorable."
Babies don't apologize for something that warrants no apology. Santa doesn't apologize even for something that does warrant an apology. Although I bet when Santa loses his temper with one of the elves, Mrs. Claus is the first one to apologize and deliver a big plate of make-up cookies to those pointy-eared cuties up there at the North Pole. So she doesn't look bad by virtue of her association with Santa.
"But Santa, I don't want to make toys. I want to be a...a...a dentist. I'm sorry!"
(Hermey is shown here offering up an unwarranted apology. But then again,
he's an animated cartoon elf of unknown biological sexual orientation and we're
not certain of the societal conditioning at the North Pole.)
It's unhealthy and hurts our self-esteem. And even worse, it's just silly. Yes. Silly. How does that word make you feel? Strong? Powerful? In charge of your life? Ummmm...nope.
How many men do you know who fall all over themselves, apologizing for everything? Zero. Ok, maybe one. And that one man generally doesn't have much self-esteem. And probably isn't getting laid. Ironically, it is men who have the Y chromosome. Y. The last letter in sorry. Women are XX. The word sorry doesn't even contain the letter X, last time I checked in with Merriam Webster.
So let's get over ourselves and stop taking the blame for everything wrong in the world. Or in other people's lives. Or with our overpriced yet still incorrect omelette order.
Apologize when your heart tells you to...not when you have no other words to say. Or are afraid of looking like a b*tch. (And yes, please embrace the B word. It means you're not the D word – doormat. A word infinitely more tragic than the B word!). Or of standing your ground. Or maybe, just maybe, leaving space for someone else to step up and say a fully warranted "I'm sorry."
I read an article last summer that posed the question to women, in particular, "What are you NOT sorry for?"
I found it a fascinating question.
"Not sorry for," as in, what have you done or said or whatever that society or your family or your boss or the PTA members perhaps frowned upon in general...but of which you are absolutely thrilled with your kick-ass self for doing or saying.
It's a great question and the answers it yields can tell you a lot about what you value and what makes you feel great about yourself and proudly, wildly authentic. I highly recommend spending a bit of time pondering this yourself.
Meanwhile, for the love of all that is holy (and we, sister dear, are holy!) please stop with all of the habitual I'm sorry stuff. It is demeaning and wreaks of the dreaded people-pleasing gene (which I'm pretty sure is also typically not part of the XY combination, but definitely often part of the XX combo ) and doesn't showcase our best selves.
It's a bad habit "nice" girls are taught and it stays with us for far too many years. Sometimes, a lifetime. And by the way, may I add here that nice is not the aspiration of empowered women. Nice is the equivalent of boiled rice. It blends in and can be drowned in any kind of bad sauce and absorbs it all without making a fuss.
Kind is the thing to be. Kind is completely different than nice. But that's a topic for another day.
I'm pretty sure the Dalai Lama and a number of others might disagree with me on the "I'm sorry" thing, and if anyone wants to apologize to me for disagreeing with me, I will most certainly make time to listen over a cup of cocoa. Because, after all, 'tis the holiday season and I'm a kind person. ;)
Keep those bells a' jinglin' and I hope your Sunday is filled with love, peace and cocoa.