On Apologizing: Sorry, I’m Not Sorry

I have always felt the need to apologize for everything. It’s practically an instinct, an automatic response to everything I say and do. For whatever reason, I’ve always felt obligated to give a personal disclaimer, no matter what’s on my mind, regardless of considering whether it is worth being sorry for or not. So I have to ask myself: Why am I sorry?

Where did this urge of apologizing before I speak derive from? Is it really better to be safe than sorry, or are the personal disclaimers I throw around only leaving me safe and sorry? I have always been taught to think before I speak—but where do I draw the line between speaking carefully and speaking too cautiously?

I should also speak what I think. If I keep apologizing before the start of any sentence or thought, I may lose sight of what I wanted to say in the first place. Not only do my thoughts lose their significance, but so does my apology.

I wonder if the apologies are a guard, a wall, to protect myself against a fight that hasn’t even begun. But isn’t anticipating a fight practically a fight in itself? I have always felt the need to keep my guard up; I barely trust anyone at all. But is that really fair—not just to the other party, but to myself?

For instance, take my love life: my never-ending apology. Let’s say a guy shows even the slightest interest in me… how do I react? I give them the whole spiel about being careful with me, aka a not-so-disguised apology in advance. Which cues the vicious cycle of unnecessary sorrow to spin over what has not even happened and may not ever be destined to happen.

But I said sorry, so that means everything must be okay—right?

Whether I am running off of apologies for days over being sorry for the experiences of my past, or whether I am apologizing to anyone and/or anything that arrives in my future… no one awaited an apology. Yet, I keep giving them anyway. And even if they’re apologies that are accepted, should I accept myself to give them in the first place?

Maybe we find ourselves building up our guards with apologies as a defense mechanism against any rejection or hurt. But here’s the thing: no apology can negate the fact that we can’t control everything, especially not our thoughts. Yet I always justify apologizing for everything by saying I want to be mentally prepared to take the blame, to accept future mistakes—because I already beat myself up about it.

It’s easier said than done to say what you mean and mean what you say. And even if we struggle with doing that, let’s decide this: Let’s not be sorry.

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