I’m always apologising. Is it because I’m just an apologetic person? Is it just because I am British? Or is it because I’m a woman?
Dear Present Me, stop apologising
Bump into somebody on the street “I’m so sorry”.
Try to get past someone on the train “sorry, can I, sorry, thank you’.
Is it because I’m just an apologetic person? Is it just because I am British? Or is it because I’m a woman?
Very few men have ever apologised to me when passing or bumping into me and yet I am always apologising. Once I had this as a theory I began to notice it all the time. I can’t help but apologise constantly. Men so rarely apologise to me.
When I’m out with my boyfriend if he doesn’t apologise in a similar bumping situation he is often shouted at in a hyper masculine way until he says sorry. He often won’t apologise to prove a point. This makes me think that the person saying sorry is the person backing down, submitting. Why else would the man who receives the apology always walk away so satisfied? Does this explain why I always feel the need to apologise? Because as a woman it’s a given that I submit? Do I become aggressive and rude (and less feminine) if I don’t say sorry even if they bumped into me?
I also find myself saying sorry in less obvious situations. For example, if I take a second counting change when paying for a coffee or if I don’t buy something in a shop. It’s like I owe the world something. I think it’s because of the pressure on women to be friendly, social and well-liked. It’s the same expectation that leads to women being constantly told to ‘smile’. This is a struggle found by female politicians in particular as they battle being likeable in a masculine arena. I feel the need to please even if the person doesn’t deserve it. I feel the need to be liked even by a person who I dislike.
Men, on the other hand, can be disliked as long as they have power. It is much more acceptable for a male politician to be serious without being critiqued. Men can be ruthless and it seems natural. Ruthless women immediately are ‘bitches’. Men, upon bumping into my boyfriend are happy for him to think they are rude as long as they receive an apology.
This could just be me being a people-pleaser, could be just that brits always are awkwardly apologising but just on the chance that gender is involved (which I personally believe it often is) I now vow that I will attempt to stop apologising. (Unless I genuinely have messed up).
If you also find yourself always apologising, ask yourself why. Have you actually done something wrong? Should the other person also apologise?