I am a 9th grade English teacher, and I see over 800 freshman daily. Some are confident, others are insecure. Some are trying to blend in; others are trying to stand out. But there are an overwhelming number of sweet children that start every sentence with an apology, and it breaks my heart.
I have a sweet girl who sits front and center in my class, and every time she has a question she starts with, “Mrs. Heberling, I’m sorry, but can you help me?” I let it slide the first few times, but when I noticed the pattern of her leading with “I’m sorry,” I pulled her aside for a chat.
I asked her why she felt the need to say she was sorry even though it is my job to help her understand what I’m teaching her. She replied with, “I feel like I am bothering you”.
So I asked her if I ever was short with her for asking a question and/or needing help. She said no. So I then asked if I had ever given her the impression that her presence in my room was a burden. Again, she said no.
So then I just gave her a hug and told her that her voice, opinion, and education are priceless. And she never needs to apologize for it.
She shyly smiled and sat back down. She still leads with “I’m sorry” often, but she catches herself and timidly continues with her dialogue.
This student taught me more than she will ever know…
We as women are conditioned to apologize for merely existing, and it is a travesty.
Women are taught to loathe and apologize for our bodies’ natural state. We are taught to take the blame for other’s actions because we are the “temptress” and “boys will be boys.” And we take the blame for the family being late when there was a fully capable human being only worrying about himself as the mother took care of everyone else plus herself.
I could get on my soap box and rant all day long on the topic, but I will go the problem solver route and give some practical advice for all us women.
Sorry -> thank you
Ladies, we need to stop apologizing for things. Instead, we can replace “sorry” with “thank you.”
Here are some examples:
- “I’m sorry we are late.” turns to “Thank you so much for understanding why we are late. Getting all the kids out the door plus myself is no easy task.”
- “I’m sorry I’m so hormonal!” becomes “Thank you for taking the highs with the lows of hormones. I’m so blessed to be a woman and have these ups and downs that some are not able to experience.”
- “I’m sorry to bother you.” evolves into “Thank you so much for taking the time to help me. I really appreciate it!”
- “I’m sorry I cannot make it tonight.” changes to “Thank you for allowing me to cancel. I needed that grace today.”
Simple shift, big results
It may seem simple, but the simple concept can shift your feelings of shame and burden to gratitude and worth.
And remember, we’re all human. Sometimes saying sorry is needed. When appropriate, the words “I’m sorry” can be as freeing for the person saying it as the person on the receiving end. However, this phrase doesn’t need to be used unnecessarily.
Be stingy with your apologies and gracious with your gratitude.
Society puts enough pressure on us to be perfect. It’s time to take back the “I’m sorry” and replace it with “thank you.” It’s a start!