“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?