Unapologizing for years of apologizing: Finding freedom from the word “sorry.”

“You say sorry when you pull someone’s hair, Hannah,” Audrey informs me as I gather her mess of sunshine curls to make a high ponytail. Clearly her advisory is a cue for me to apologize for getting a tangle of bright blond strands stuck in my comb. “That’s when you say you are sorry and you mean it,” she tells me again.

I spend my days with a four year old, tracing Disney princesses and beading together friendship bracelets. With each passing day she teaches me new things; from the origins of “raisin fingers” in the hot tub to how to really wear my hair so I can look as beautiful as possible. But more than anything, Audrey shows me that she knows the word “sorry” and where it fits. And she is very proud of that.

As she skips through Target in her cowboy boots and Snow White costume, I think to myself, “Oh, Audrey. It is a very good thing to know how to say you’re sorry, but I hope you never say sorry for who you are. I hope that word never causes you to go back on yourself.

Sometimes I desperately want to sit in the center of Barnes and Nobles and cut the word “sorry” out of every single dictionary in stock. Although there are times when we should say sorry (for instance, when we pull someone’s hair) there are plenty of times when we are apologizing for all the wrong reasons. Apologizing For Who We Are. For What We Believe In. For What Breaks Our Hearts. For How Our Hearts Break. For Our Dreams. For Our Ambitions.

And when we apologize for these kinds of things, the word “sorry” becomes a weapon that we use against our own souls. The S grows sharp and cuts our spirit. The O is rounded but rugged, ripping apart our confidence. The Rs are double-edged and they pierce our happiness and the Y is that final cut that throws us off balance and into a realm of insecurity.

I will be the first to admit: I say it too much. I mean it too much. For several years, it seemed as though every other word from my mouth was an apology. So much that I was apologizing to people for who I chose to be, for what I dreamed to do, for how I lived my life and for ultimately feeling that I was a burden to their life.

But this word, oh this silly little sucker, it draws the life out of us. It causes us to believe that we really should be apologizing for just being ourselves. For wearing cowboy boots in Target. For having curves. For never letting go of childhood dreams. When we carry around a Suitcase Full Of Sorrow and we pass out apologies to anyone willing to hear it then we come back to a mirror at the end of the night to the image of a dissatisfied individual with sad eyes staring back. And we say hurtful things like “not good enough” or “not pretty enough.” We let our apologies to the world suck the life out of us when really we should smooching the ground for those little things that set us apart.

So here it is: my unapologies, to make up for all the years I spent saying sorry for the things that I really should have been thanking the heavens for. Because They Make Me Who I Am. Sorry, but I am not sorry for preferring to sit in with a good book and a cup of tea rather than going out to the bar. Sorry, but I am not sorry for being an overachiever; for waking up at ungodly hours to get a workout in and for doing more things in two hours of my morning than most people do in a whole day. Sorry, but I am not sorry for not being easily wooed by pick up lines or charming looks, I am not sorry that I have decided not to settle for less than I deserve. Sorry, but I am not sorry for taking care of my dreams, for sometimes looking like I was not having fun because I was “working too hard.” Sorry, but I am not sorry for having a heavy heart, for wishing that the world would adore me or still believing that we could all be friends if we just try really hard (I have believed it since preschool and I will not give it up). Sorry, but I am not sorry for anyone coming to me and seeing that my heart is already broken with no hope of it ever being fixed. Broken Over Poverty. Ignorance. Hunger. Oppression. I let my heart lie broken. I think it’s beautiful that way. I am unapologetic about it. Sorry, but I am not sorry for not fitting into a small box or a quiet corner. I was made to be loud, to be fierce, to uncover my limitations only to limbo under them.

And with every unapology (note: this is not a real word, but maybe we can make it one?) we learn to liberate ourselves. We learn to give ourselves the credit we deserve for being thriving, real, passionate and crazy individuals. We stop comparing you to me and me to you and we just stand together. Unapologetic but stronger because of it. Not Sorry. But Satisfied For Once.

What are some of your unapologies?

36 thoughts on “Unapologizing for years of apologizing: Finding freedom from the word “sorry.”

  1. I have the same sickness you have. It’s like we’ve gotten so used to saying ‘sorry’ before there’s anything to apologize for. And even more so on-line because it is so easy to misread a person’s tone.

    Hmm, I’m not sorry for losing sleep either, and not sorry for tough critiques I give, because I long for other writers to succeed, and I’m not sorry for rushing to get off the telephone.

    Great stuff, Hannah.

    1. Thank you! And I like your unapologies, especially the tough critiques one..

      And you are so right, it is so much more difficult to read someone’s tone through the internet.


      Hannah Katy

  2. I think we all apologize too much. I have apologized for some of the decisions I made that positively affected my life. My grandmother always thought every detail of my life should go one way. It came to a head when I transferred colleges and changed majors. I punched a hole through her back door and told her I couldn’t live my life for her. She cried. I’m pretty sure I cried, but she never gave me any grief about it again. I kind of regret having an outburst and showing my temper, but it was effective. I usually can control my feelings, but after years of hearing “what you should do”, I couldn’t take it any more.

    Sorry for rambling… 😉

    1. I think we all have certainly been there. I know there are definitely times in my life that resemble this story you just told, not the same situation but like you said, apologizing for some of the decisions that have positively affected my life. I guess it is just very hard for people who want to play such a role in your life but inevitably you meet a crossroads where you want different things. I hope all is better now!

      Thanks for sharing. Always love hearing from ya.


      Hannah Katy

  3. amazing post. i was thinking about the “s” word a lot recently and how i’ve spent most of my life appologizing to people whom i don’t really owe an appology to … feeling guilty and beating myself up about stuff that i shouldn’t feel guilty about in the first place. sorry is such an easy word to throw around.

    p.s. – i adore your blog.

    1. Thank you so very much! Ah, I am so happy that you like it.

      And I just the same way… Always apologizing for things that I should not even be sorry about. Ugh, the wicked webs we weave.


      Hannah Katy

  4. ash – it’s amazing how quickly “sorry” comes out of my mouth sometimes. it feels like i don’t even think about it anymore. at least not most of the time. loved this post. a real thought provoker.

  5. Amazing as always. Your words here honestly reached out and touched my very soul as it made me realise I have been guilty of apologising about myself for far too long, and it’s time to wake up and embrace the things I used to be sorry for. I’m not going to be sorry for honesty when it’s well-intentioned, even if it’s not what someone wants to hear. I’m not going to be sorry for being sensitive and upset about the awful things that go on in this world and trying to do something about it. And I’m not going to be sorry for being emotional when it’s the extremes that give rise to such important moments in life.

    Thank you for this, love. Now come move up here so we can chat about everything all day long 🙂

    1. Coming right now! Meet me for coffee in just a few hours? Seriously though, one day I am taking road trip up to you! And it will be the best life chat session EVER. I am really happy that this post did so much for you.. It is well worth it then. Hope the Weddingbells competition is going well. You better win!


      Hannah Katy

      1. Well I’ve ALWAYS wanted to visit NY… 🙂 It definitely would be a wonderful chat!!

        Weddingbells…voting starts July 6! Fingers crossed!! 🙂

      2. Ah this will be so good! I am inserting your Weddingbells right into my prayers love. I am very confident in you.. I think you have this! Looking forward to the email!


        Hannah Katy

  6. I agree, we tend to throw that word around just because, and it loses all sense of the meaning. We should only say it when it is really needed…and only then, when we really mean it.

    Kind of like saying “I love you” to someone you don’t really love, but just saying it because it’s the nice thing to say.


  7. that word is a freaking curse sometimes. i am SO guilty of over-apologizing, even when i don’t feel like actually apologizing. i use the word to salve the wounds of people who are hurting me more than i “hurt” them, just to keep them near.

    this is a hell of an affirmation. thanks for it.

  8. i say ‘i’m sorry’ for EVERYthing, it seems. what is with this sickness that plagues us so – women in particular, even? i’m ready to do away with it too. 🙂

  9. This is a great post. So liberating. I need to scream these things at the top of my lungs sometimes. I’m not sorry for working my ass off to get through college so I could get a great job that has great benefits, tons of vacation time, and pays enough for me to own my home and a nice car. And I’m not sorry that I’m unsatisfied with my awesome day job and want something even bigger as a career. I’m not sorry that I eat healthy and workout and my ass looks great. I’m not sorry that I’d rather hang out on my couch with my dog than go to the bar and hear about everyone’s drama. And I’m not sorry that I go after what I want instead of complaining that it will never happen for me. Booyah!

    1. Your comment in itself is so inspiring to me! You know what I am not sorry that I work hard at the gym either and people tell me that I care too much about eating healthy… I like being good to my body and I am not apologizing for it.. And I am so with you, I would much rather hang on the couch then be a drama filter.


      Hannah Katy

  10. Love this post. I tend to apologize (probably more to myself than anyone else) about the way I am. I find myself comparing myself to others way too much, and we always end up falling short when we do that.

    I’m not going to be sorry for not wanting to stay out late, drink to the wee hours, and kiss random boys. I’m not going to be sorry that my mom is my best friend. I’m not going to be sorry that I don’t display every single one of my emotions all the time. I’m not going to be sorry for my extreme love for Dr. Phil and all that he does. 🙂

    While there are some areas of my life I do want to change, there are some that are perfectly me and that’s just the way I was built. I need to start embracing these parts, loving these parts, and letting others see them more fully.

    1. I agree Stephany. I think it is great when we have goals to work towards and positive changes that we want to make to our lifestyle but I think it all starts with embracing our foundation, because we cannot build up without doing that… Um, do I sound like Dr. Phil right now? ha ha.


      Hannah Katy

  11. what is it about this generation where we feel the need to say sorry for everything?!?! i’m totally with you on this one, and frankly, it needs to stop. we need to be who we are and not apologetic about it.

    great post.

    1. So true suki. I mean, be sorry if you really mean it… but don’t be sorry for the things you cannot change or the things you SHOULD NOT have to change, right?


      Hannah Katy

  12. As always, this was great. I can identify with this so much. I think that we are so often asked, well almost forced, to apologize for who we are, and it’s a shame. Funny thing is, when I was a young child I would refuse to say sorry unless I absolutely meant it. Then I learned that people didn’t like that and I, like you, would apologize for everything. Now, I going through a stage where I am reevaluating the apologies I’ve made. I think I need to only say sorry when I mean it from my core. AND I will never apologize for who I am these days. It’s just not happening!

    1. That is so good! I think you are a bit farther along than me. Such a funny story though, that you refused to say sorry… I think its time to stop caring about making a million people happy.. Because I have learned the hard way that you can never please everyone.


      Hannah Katy

  13. I feel like I say this every time I leave a comment, but again….this is one of my favorite posts. I love the concept of unapologies and I wholeheartedly agree that we say sorry much too often for things we have no business apologizing for.

    I’m not sorry for a lot of things. A LOT of things. Too many things to list here, but I might write them down in my journal because I think it would be liberating.

    Keep em comin 😉

  14. I often say I’m sorry for the way I feel about something (as in, apologizing for MY feelings). How ridiculous is that!? I need to stop doing that because they are MY feelings and that’s how I feel and I can’t change that. At least not at that moment.

    I also say sorry when a co-worker makes a mess of something, even if it wasn’t my fault. I really hate that I have to do that. Or that I choose to do that.

    1. I do the same thing Nora! Always! When someone disagrees with me I always feel this itch to apologize.. But its totally fine to have differences. I need to get better at that.


      Hannah Katy

  15. Ugh, I am definitely an over-apologizer. I try to catch myself these days because it just doesn’t make sense to say you’re sorry when it’s not something you should be sorry for. Definitely takes some getting used to!

    1. Join my club! Ha ha. Definitely not an overnight adjustment.. takes a lot of hard work. As long as we are trying to catch ourselves we are making great progress, right? Ha.


      Hannah Katy

  16. Oh beautiful Hannah!

    This may be one of my favorite posts ever – it touches every part of my heart and mind.

    I used to say “sorry” too often, and it’s true, somewhere along the way I started to believe I had an actual reason to say, sorry. When I didn’t. I’ve never wanted to apologize for who I was, and there I was, doing that – day in and day out. It’s taken a lot of will power to stop it, but it’s definitely worth it.

    I just have to say again – your words are amazing! I feel like you pluck the words right out of my head and heart and write them so beautifully. You are even more beautiful and so talented…

    Thank you! ❤

    All my best to you always,

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