So, I have this fantastic friend. She’s pretty amazing and I admire a lot of the stuff she does. But she is, as so many people are, pretty insecure about herself, her abilities, her talents, and it manifests in a lot of apologizing for herself and a lot of putting herself down.

This drives me batty. Because I think she’s so fantastic.

And because I used to do a lot of the same thing, a long time ago. We self-denigrate for a lot of reasons: defensive strategy, habit, “modesty.”

Let’s stop that. Today, I dare you not to apologize for yourself.

I mean, obviously, if you accidentally knock someone down the stairs you can apologize for that. But if you’re just hanging out and you feel the words forming in your mouth, especially in any sort of preemptive fashion, bite them back. Don’t let them out.

You do not take up too much space. You are not an inconvenience. You are not a slacker. If it’s the first time you’ve ever done something, you do not have to apologize for not being perfect at it. If you have done something a hundred thousand million times, you still do not have to apologize for not being perfect at it.

Save your apologies for when/if you genuinely injure/harm someone. Go all day without apologizing for yourself and see what it feels like to exist without begging someone’s pardon.

I dare you.


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39 Comments

  1. Posted May 25, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    OK, I’m totally bookmarking this.

    • TR
      Posted May 25, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      It is one of my favorite periodic challenges.

  2. Phoebe
    Posted May 25, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Woah. This is so on point. Sometimes I apologize for being black or a woman, but this just points out how I apologize for being fat. A fat, black woman: that’s who I am. And I am ok, respect-worthy and lovable. That’s who I am.

    • TR
      Posted May 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      It should go without saying but I’ll say it anyway – you don’t have to apologize for being black or a woman either. None of that. We do not have to apologize for who and what we are.

  3. Posted May 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    This…is something that I might have a bit of difficulty doing. I grew up learning that my very existence is something to apologize for.

    I think I’ll do this anyway. This entry put a smile on my face.

    • TR
      Posted May 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      It’s a huge challenge for a lot of people – it can be a really hard thing. Sometimes even just being aware of it is an eye-opener. Good luck with it today!

  4. Nycteris
    Posted May 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    That’s a good challenge for everyone! I definitely say “sorry” too often.

  5. Posted May 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I apologize for a lot of things and I’ve been trying to not do it quite so much. If I haven’t actually hurt anybody I don’t need to spend so much time worrying about being sorry. It’s exhausting.

    Dare accepted!

  6. Posted May 25, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    If it’s the first time you’ve ever done something, you do not have to apologize for not being perfect at it.

    I love you right now. I’ve been kicking my own ass all week over not getting something just right, but I’ve never done this before! If other people have told me it isn’t easy, why the hell did I expect to be perfect at it?

    Walk away, come back later. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

    • Posted May 25, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      I’ve just started a new job, and every time I’ve learnt something new I’ve managed to balls it up. I am PLEASED by this, because now not only do I know how to do it, I know how to fix it the next time I make a mistake.

      This is new – it’s taken me a long long time to stop hiding the fact that I don’t know how to do something, instead of just asking for help. I’m pretty pleased with myself. And I’m NOT apologising for being pleased with myself! So there.

      Next challenge. Get better at accepting compliments, or at least stop trying to talk people out of them. I double dog dare myself.

  7. Katie
    Posted May 25, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I always bash myself for not being perfect at something I’m doing for the first time.

    This really couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I don’t want to go into specifics, but thank you, thank you, thank you for this today.

  8. bellacoker
    Posted May 25, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this!!

    I make books, well, I have made three books in six months and they have been gorgeous and wonderful. But I have developed some kind of block against making more books, even though I love it and am really good at it, because I just *know* that the next one is going to be the one that I nargle massively. I mean eventually one is going to get nargled, and I feel like the more I make without messing up the further I will have to fall when I do mess up and that little bit of failure will just. ruin. everything.

    So, thank you for the cheer-leading, I’m going to go and make a book now. Maybe two. :)

  9. Posted May 25, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    ur awesome.

    thank you.

    <3

  10. Anna
    Posted May 25, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm….

    I need this.

    Challenge accepted!

  11. Naamah
    Posted May 25, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Not even kidding, this was my immediate train of thought:

    “Is she talking about me? I don’t know! OMG have I been complaining about myself too much on LJ? Probably, yes! Am I always coming across as someone with massive self-esteem problems? OH REALLY, DO YOU THINK?!?!

    “O GOD I AM SO SORRY.”

    I CANNOT FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS BUT I CAN MAKE MYSELF LAUGH. I guess that is something. I can be insecure about being insecure.

    Now that that’s out of the way, I will try not to apologize unnecessarily for the next 24 hours.

    • TR
      Posted May 25, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      I love you so much.

      *dead of laughing*

      • Naamah
        Posted May 25, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        Dead of LOL? WELL, I DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR THAT, MA’AM.

        Love you too.

        But seriously, the apologizing thing? That’s hard to break. I used to be a lot worse about it. It took Sargon a while to teach me that apologizing too much is often far more aggravating than whatever I am apologizing for.

        Apologies are a very puppy-like way of trying to stave off disapproval and rejection, and I very much fear disapproval and rejection, so it’s a behavior I often lapse into. What’s funny (or not funny) is that when you are a 32-year-old woman, it doesn’t usually help any.

        I say “I’m sorry” a lot for things that aren’t my fault, as a way of saying “I’m sorry that is happening to you,” which sounds weirdly formal, but is still a necessary sentiment. We need a better phrase for that.

        • Ashbet
          Posted May 26, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink

          Naamah — I do the same thing, from your last paragraph — “I’m sorry” as a means of saying “I regret that this has happened to you.” We really DO need a better phrase.

          My awesome sweetie is pretty good about poking me when I’m in over-apologizing mode — it crops up a lot when I’m anxious, and sometimes having it pointed out makes me reflexively apologize for over-apologizing . . . but then we usually laugh together and it’s a little more okay.

          I have a really big tendency to walk on eggshells and freak out if I think my partner or a close friend is unhappy about something (often nothing to do with me — things like a late plane or a similar inconvenience), and that’s when I get into damage-control mode. Has a lot to do with growing up with an unpredictably rageful mother, and then a series of simmer-seethe-and-explode romantic partners in my past.

          Still working to break old bad patterns, but challenges like this are absolutely worth taking on!!

          *resolves to play “Little Big Planet” with K today and STOP APOLOGIZING FOR BEING SO CLUMSY WITH THE CONTROLLER*

          – A :D

  12. Posted May 25, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    I accept your challenge! I really need to make a concerted effort with this, 31 years of apologizing for living is going to be a hard habit to break but I am now realizing I have NOTHING to be sorry for. For the times when I actually do have something to be sorry for I will apologize, try to fix the situation, but I will NOT punish myself continuously like I used to. Just because I am fat does not mean I have to be over perfect in every other way as to try to over compensate for my “shortcoming.” I am a fat human, I need to stop focusing on the fat part, and remind myself about the human part.

  13. Posted May 26, 2010 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    Great challenge! I just called in sick at work and was apologizing until my boss cut me off and said, “If you’re sick, you’re sick. Stop being sorry, we’ll manage a day without you.” Challenge accepted.

  14. Posted May 26, 2010 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    I’m so tempted to print this out and frame it!

    I’m terrible when it comes to this. I apologise all the time. For no good reason. I’ve even apologised to people because they’ve hurt my feelings! And when my lovely boyfriend tells me not to apologise for things like that, I apologise for apologising. Sometimes I feel like I’m just a great big ball of apologies.

    Not any more! Challenge accepted!

  15. Posted May 26, 2010 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    I have been working on this one for awhile. It’s not easy, not just because we’re so conditioned to do it, but because you instantly get labelled a bitch, or full of yourself, or arrogant, or a million other things for simply liking yourself and not apologising for anything that doesn’t harm anyone.

    But I stopped giving a shit a while back. I have to live my life, I have to face myself in the mirror, and I have to like myself or I’m never going to move forward.

  16. Woozle
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Wow. That’s a tough one. Really really tough.

    But inspiring!

    I do this like crazy; I apologize for what I do, what I say, what I feel, what I am. For not being Better or good enough. I say “I suck” way too much – whether out loud or in my head. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

    I’m gonna try to change it, if only just for today.

    Thanks for the challenge!

  17. flightless
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    This is wonderful. And is going to be hard as hell for me; it appears that large sectors of my psyche really do believe I don’t deserve to take up space or use all this air. (And just look how many electrons I’ve disarranged with this comment!) Anyway, I accept the challenge! Thank you for writing this.

  18. marchioness
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    This used to be absolutely par for the course for me. On the one hand, I apologized for existing (because fatties can’t be shamelessly in existence, jeez) and on the other hand, like Naamah, I couldn’t stand disapproval and rejection. (That couldn’t be related to feeling like I had to constantly justify my existence, could it? Heavens, no!)

    Working on the first one is straightforward, but not easy: basically, “screw you, I’m here, deal with it.” But the second one… I don’t do it so much professionally anymore, but if I screw up and it hurts a friend or family member I sometimes lapse into “incessant apology” mode. When I do it, it feels like I’m putting the burden of my insecurity and guilt on that other person, to absolve me of my sins.

    I also have a low tolerance for this behavior in other people, mostly because I recognize it in myself and I’m trying hard to do away with it. That’s a toughie.

    • marchioness
      Posted May 26, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      ETA: When I say I have a low tolerance, I don’t mean, “get it together already!” What I mean is, I recognize that it’s a hard struggle, one that I’m still in, so when one of my friends does it it’s hard for me to be patient because I’m so impatient with myself.

      Hope that makes sense. The internetz garbles up my meanings.

  19. Christi
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Love, love, love this. Challenge accepted!

    Feel free to call me on it, too, if you want to. :-)

  20. Posted May 26, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I’m English. Don’t you know we apologise for everydamnthing? Seriously, if you went to the Public Records Office, you’d see every one of us has Sorry as our middle name. You run over my foot with your supermarket trolley and I’ll apologise for getting in your way. It’s bred into us from birth.

    @Naamah “I say “I’m sorry” a lot for things that aren’t my fault, as a way of saying “I’m sorry that is happening to you,” which sounds weirdly formal, but is still a necessary sentiment. We need a better phrase for that.”

    I rather like the Irish saying, “I’m sorry for your trouble”, as it doesn’t insinuate the person saying it is responsible for said trouble, merely sympathetic to the plight of the person having to weather it.

  21. bookeater
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    While we’re at it, let’s stop apologizing for eating what we want (yeah, fat people eat) and for being smart. The latter is especially relevant for women, who are trained not to “show off” anything except out bodies.

  22. carly
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    in my undergrad i took a class on feminist theory. the prof was a truly incredible and inspiring woman, and an extremely tough prof. in addition to reading and papers for the class, she gave out life-homework assignments (not for credit) each week. the first one she gave was to not apologize *at all* for one week. in her classroom, for the whole term, no one was allowed to apologize for speaking or asking a question. it was really challenging and interesting.

    (one of the other assignments was to eat 3 meals a day, every day, for one week. i love this woman).

    thanks for posting this! it’s an ongoing battle!

    c.

  23. Posted May 27, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I take this dare.

    I apologize a lot, in general. People often ask me why I am saying “sorry” all the time, and have the time I can’t answer. *shrug*

  24. Posted May 28, 2010 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    While we’re at it, let’s stop apologizing for eating what we want (yeah, fat people eat) and for being smart. The latter is especially relevant for women, who are trained not to “show off” anything except out bodies.

  25. Posted May 29, 2010 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I am guilty of this offense. Whenever I have the need to say it and don’t say it, I usually feel worse. Like, I beat myself up over it. I don’t know. Heh. I can try the dare, but I don’t know if I will succeed!

  26. Posted May 29, 2010 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    This is kind of meaningful to me as we just made a family choice and I’m worried about people being unsupportive and shitty. I know in my heart there is nothing wrong (and all kinds of Right) about our decision, but it turns out I don’t always have the ovaries to not care what other people think. I’m going to have to ruminate on this one…

    So, thanks.

  27. Tracy
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    I love this post. I just realized though that there are other forms of apologizing that I do. When I overtip because I don’t want a waitperson to think that black people are bad tippers, that’s a form of apologizing. When I put up with shit from people and don’t call them out because I feel like I don’t deserve better, that’s a form of apologizing. I need to work on sticking up for myself more.

  28. Posted May 31, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Good post, I agree, I find that this is something so many women struggle with: apologizing for merely existing. There are interesting parallels to be drawn to body size and women’s approaches to their fat.

    I DON’T apologize unless I did something I feel was genuinely offensive. However, I OFTEN find myself wanting to apologize but I don’t. Every little apology that comes out of my mouth when it shouldn’t is like a slap in the face to who I really am and my right to be me.

    By the way, I adore the Fatcast, it’s brilliant. You guys are so funny I was literally laughing aloud in my bedroom alone. Pretty sure my roommates are wondering what the heck is going on.

    Thank you for being you and being a voice for size acceptance. I have found the fat acceptance movement and fat-o-sphere has changed my life.

  29. Posted June 2, 2010 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    It took me a long time to stop apologising for myself or belittling myself, but now i’m in a good place in my life where I don’t feel I need to make excuses for myself. I thought that made me a late bloomer until coming here and learning that so many others still struggle with it!

  30. Posted June 6, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    I am printing this out and putting it everywhere. This is awesome.

  31. Posted June 9, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    Oh, my. I’m not sure whether to blush, cry, or stand up and cheer. Guilty on all counts – I just never really got *why* I do it. Wow. Thank you. *sniffles*

3 Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marianne Kirby and mamaVH, R. R said: I won't apologize for being AWESOME either! RT @TheRotund: Fatties, I Challenge You; In Fact, I Dare You: http://bit.ly/d8UnZt [...]

  2. [...] Rotund, “Fatties, I Challenge You; In Fact, I Dare You” : We self-denigrate for a lot of reasons: defensive strategy, habit, [...]

  3. By Serious Happiness Tip | Rain On My Tirade on June 9, 2010 at 9:21 am

    [...] Serious Happiness Tip Posted on June 9, 2010 by tildathebillder http://www.therotund.com/?p=819 [...]

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