Wednesday, October 29, 2014

So, Sorry, I'm Not Sorry: On Learning How to be Unapologetic

Scene One: Friends Apartment
Friend: Wow, you apologise a lot. Are you sure you’re not Canadian?
Katie: I know. I’m sorry. I am trying to stop. Sorry.
Friend: ….

Scene Two: At the Gym
Trainer: Hey, Kathryn, good job today. High five.
Katie: Thanks. Oh, sorry, I’m sweaty.
Trainer: It’s gym. You don’t sweat, I did not good job.
Katie: Oh, yeah. Sorry.

Both of these things occurred in the past month. Scene two not even 20 minutes ago.  Seriously, Katie. Get it together.
I have proudly touted the label “Unapologetic Feminist” for a while now, and I really need to think about what being an unapologetic feminist means. My next blog post (which will be coming to you by Sunday evening) is entitled “So, I guess I wear boy socks and sports are for males: On being an Unapologetic Feminist.” I have been working on that puppy for a couple of months to make it say exactly what I want it to.
But, then these things happened, and I tail spinned into this weird place of not knowing who I am, what I stand for, and where I place my ideals. There are, of course, alternative factors that aided in this quarter life crisis, but that is neither here nor there. And, I will not get to all of those big questions in the next 557 words. But, I will certainly be teasing them out over the next month. But right now, I have this need to sit down, punch my writer’s block in its big, dumb face, and sort some things out.
An unapologetic feminist is one who is not sorry for feeling strongly about gender equality in the work place, in the home, in political spheres, and also anywhere on this planet. On the surface, I am absolutely an unapologetic feminist. I definitely think women should not have to fear being cat-called or harassed simply because they have breasts and a vagina. I also think that women should be more involved in the politics surrounding their bodies and be able to educate themselves without fear ofbeing shot.
However, on a deeper level I am not an unapologetic person. I apologise all the time. I apologise for things that are not my fault. I apologise for things that are my fault. I apologise for things over which I have no control. I apologise for apologising. I don’t know if I apologise because I am a woman, or young, or if I honestly think that I am the only one responsible to shoulder everyone else’s burden.
I don’t think it is because I am a woman. I have known men whose “Sorrys” roll off their tongues like “I love yous” or “Pleases.” I know women who apologise appropriately. And, there are women from whom I’ve never heard an honest apology. So, I don’t think that my issue is necessarily a gender issue.
I don’t think it is my age either. I don’t think this is something out of which I will ever grow. I hope to study it, and see how I can change it. But, I doubt it will ever go away.
I am going to bet my marbles that it is because I feel responsible for everything that happens around me. It is exhausting. I feel responsible for my friends' reactions to me. I feel responsible for problems in the workplace. I feel responsible for other people’s opinions.
And, I don’t know why.
I was talking about this earlier this week with a dear friend. I feel responsible for other people’s happiness. I’m sorry for any blip that may have affected their joy. That’s it. That is why I am sorry. Holy Bingo, light bulb!
By feeling responsible for other people’s happiness, I not only shelve my own needs to help others, but also I take away their opportunity to find and cultivate their own happiness. This is extremely problematic. I will definitely work this.
            This is not to say that I will stop apologising for things that are deserving (e.g. I am sorry I ran into you at full speed while you were trying to catch that disc; you should absolutely call a foul or Sorry I kicked you Rufio; you were sneakily coiled near my feet because you don’t know how to handle human contact). But, I am going to try to stop feeling responsible for others and apologising for things over which I have no control. If you interact with me at all, please help me in this. I don’t often ask for help; it isn’t in my nature (another problem, I know.) But, really, please help me in this. I would really appreciate it.