I made a new friend this past winter, and as I got to know her, I noticed there was something different about her that I really loved. I couldn’t put my finger on it for the longest time — I just kept referring to it as refreshing — and then I realized: she doesn’t make excuses, and she isn’t constantly apologizing.
For example, recently, we made tentative plans to get together for drinks. The day of, she sent me a text asking for a raincheck. Her reason? She just felt blah, a little under the weather, and wanted to stay cuddled up at home. If the tables were turned, I would have concocted an excuse for the same reason, and then apologized like, ten times, simply because I would have felt so bad about potentially letting someone down, or coming across as bitchy. The reality though, was that I appreciated her reason, wasn’t mad, and totally got it. It’s so nice to be around someone who is so unapologetically straight, and who, despite all that, is also SO sweet and genuine.
It’s been really eye opening to see in my own life how frequently I feel the need to apologize or excuse something. Just the other day, a woman I used to regularly babysit for called last minute asking if I could come over that afternoon to spend some time with her kiddos. I was busy that day, with a deadline, and I had plans to make carbonara for dinner — I had been looking forward to it all day. I stumbled over my words as I declined and ended up profusely apologizing multiple times, and I even said I had plans to go out, which wasn’t true. It felt weird to simply say, “I’m not available tonight but I really hope you find someone!” — even though that would have been completely legit, right?
My mom has said, “You don’t always have to explain yourself” and I think she has a great point. Do you find yourself apologizing a lot? One interesting thing: I lived in Denmark my junior year of college, and in Danish, there’s really no direct translation for “sorry” — the closest word translates as “excuse me.” It made me realize how frequently I felt the need to apologize as I went about my day.
When a woman opens her window at 3 a.m. on a weeknight and shouts to her neighbor, “I’m sorry, but can you turn the music down?” the “sorry” is not an attempt at unobtrusiveness. It’s not even good manners. It’s a poor translation for a string of expletives. These sorrys are actually assertive. Unfortunately, for both addresser and addressee alike, the “assertive apology” is too indirect, obscuring the point. It comes off as passive-aggressive — the easiest of the aggressions to dismiss.