“Sorry, it’s just that I think that…” No. No. No. No. Do not apologise for the way that you think, the opinions that you have, the person that you are, the baby that you love, your trip to the gym, the love that you feel for a person or the rant that you want to have. We apologise way too much.
As an arts facilitator who mostly works with young people, it’s my job to make people feel safe to take creative risks. To put them in situations where they push themselves creatively. What comes most often with creativity and vulnerability though is apologies. People preemptively justifying for the space that they’re about to take up.
Taking creative risks is scary…
What if people don’t like it? Or me? What if I did it wrong? What if I suck? What if it’s awful and they’ll be too scared to tell me it’s awful? What if I have booger up my nose that I don’t know about it and me doing this right now is going to expose my face, and the booger, and that group of boys are going to laugh at me? That last one actually happened to me. In Grade Nine. It was a fucking torturous moment.
When we begin sentences with, “I’m sorry I just…” we undermine our very presence on the planet. We apologise for being a human, for feeling vulnerable, for feeling anything, for taking a risk, for thinking things in our human brains. Which we seem to forget is what they’re designed to do. Think and feel.
We’ve been taught it’s unladylike or pretentious or egotistical or selfish to take up too much space. That it’s not okay to be too noisy, to feel right or proud or boast. But that’s such bullshit. We’ve been taught that the better kind of people are unabashedly humble and quiet, fobbing off their successes and remaining small. Grace, after all, is proclaimed as the most vital virtue. But, have you ever had a moment when you’ve listened to someone speak openly, nerdily, excitedly gushing about something that they love? Passion is the sexiest thing in the world. That’s because passion comes from the most authentic place.
I wonder also if our propensity for apologising is connected to our fear of being authentic.
I posted Brene Brown’s incredible response to this article in the New York Times on Facebook today and it’s such a beautiful response about what authenticity actually means compared to how it’s often misconstrued. Why is it so frightening to simply ‘be ourselves?’
And let it be known I think there’s a definite distinction between being yourself, being authentic, and acting like an asshole. It’s important to read social cues and use your manners and essentially not be a dick. Being authentic and being an asshole are not one and the same as the first article would lead you to believe.
Is our fear of authenticity connected to the overwhelming fact that we aren’t empowered in ways to love ourselves? Even mentioning the phrase ‘self love’ is enough for some peoples eyes to roll and their rectums to tighten so hard they make self righteous diamonds. But, I find that if we don’t talk about it, then we don’t know about it, and if we don’t know about it then we can’t formulate an opinion about it. Kind of like how the Americans think that only teaching young people about abstinence will stop kids from having sex. Um?
It’s okay to feel proud, and passionate, and gush, it’s okay to speak from the heart, to voice an opinion to be vulnerable. We need more of it. If we collectively got over ourselves and all the fake bullshit and we’re happy to take up space exactly as we are then I think we’d be surprised by how the world would change. I get it, it takes guts and self awareness and the grandest amount of self love there is. And we’re just not taught how to do it. But I think it’s worth it. It’s got to be because the alternative is what we’ve got. And what we’ve got is people apologsing for the silly things like a post of about how happy they are and not for the actual things that are worthy of apologies like years of racial discrimination, genocide, misogyny, bullying, self hatred and farting and blaming it on someone else, among others.
You’re bloody awesome. Don’t forget it.