I wrote this a few months ago intending it as a guest post for another blog. But I’ve decided to post it here because it fits so closely with what’s been going on in my life lately. I read The Happiness Project (Gretchen Rubin) and then I read Quitter (Jon Acuff). While they stand alone just fine, put them together and they’re dynamite (for me right now, anyway).
I loved what Gretchen said about being herself; my summary of the concept is that we nurture our happiness when we are true to our own preferences and personalities, but we harm our happiness when we try to fit ourselves into forms not designed for us. (This does not mean we have a free pass to ignore our weaknesses, just to be clear.) Then in Quitter I read that we almost never “discover” a dream that has been hiding from us our whole lives, only to find that we excel at this new activity and must pursue it to find our life’s meaning. Instead, successful people find the thread that has run through everything they’ve ever done or been drawn to: they “recover” their dream.
Mine is writing. I quit writing much poetry when my life quit feeling like a daily hurricane of emotions. (Praise God for the gift of my calm, patient husband!) But I can’t stop writing. I can’t stop looking at the world the way artists do, no matter how much I try to convince myself that I want to be a white collar professional. The real me who won’t shut up wants to write a book, for goodness’ sake! So I am going to. Probably slowly. Perhaps badly. But I am going to release that fear of failure and admit that writing is my true passion, even when it’s difficult. Without further soul-baring, I give you this old post which today seems very timely.
I’m confident that I am not alone in this: I apologize too much. Do you? Have you ever apologized, not just for something you did (or didn’t do), but for being who you are?
I know it sounds insane, but think about it. Maybe the apology didn’t include the words “I’m sorry,” but in some way you dismissed your own value. Sound familiar?
I know I’ve done it. I downplay my achievements, reject compliments, and emphasize my weaknesses, and I’m not even what most people would consider neurotic. All the same, it’s ridiculous how many self-deprecating words come out of my mouth.
“That dress is so cute!” “Thanks; it was $2 at Goodwill.” Am I saying that so she’ll know where to score a deal? No, I’m saying it to take myself down a notch in her eyes. (“Please don’t admire me; I’m nothing, really.”) Would it be so hard to graciously say, “Thank you?”
“You’re so organized!” “Well, yeah, but sometimes I stress out about it too much. My parents used to joke that I had O.C.D.” Again with the question, would it be so hard to say, “Thank you?”
Well, today I’m feeling feisty. I’m ready to end my ugly habit, so here I go with a short list of things I’m not going to apologize for anymore. Ready?
I’m not sorry for my freckles.
I’m not sorry about my passion for words and grammar. I’m not being a snob; I just believe we have to share a foundation if we’re going to communicate effectively. If you don’t find Strunk and White amusing that’s okay, but guess what? I do. And I’m not sorry. (I now your going to combe this post for errors know, so I hope ur happy you found sum.)
The caption reads, “None of us is perfect.” Seemed appropriate to me.
I’m not sorry for my
pasty alabaster legs: they’re au naturel. If I wanted to fake ’em I could bake ’em. (Actually that’s a lie. They would sunburn.) So I’m choosing to stop apologizing for “blinding” people with my skin (here). Warm weather might mean my skin is showing, but it also means your sunglasses are on, so it’ll be fine.
Finally, I’m not sorry that I’m still learning. I’ll admit I sometimes look back and cringe at things I wore or words I wrote. I’ll replay the past in my head and wish I had handled things differently. I’m not perfect–and admitting that is step one in the twelve steps to self-improvement, isn’t it? It should be! The way I see it, if I’m going to focus on any steps forward I can’t keep looking backwards and regretting things I can’t change.
The path is just there; we choose whether to travel it forward or backward.
Each of us bears the image of God and yet–maybe because we fear rejection? maybe because we fear the responsibility of standing apart?–we tend to try very hard to bear the image of someone else. Whether our aspirations lie more in the direction of airbrushed model (“I wish I could rock a bikini!”) or queen of an organized household (“I wish my home looked like the Container Store!”), we betray ourselves when we wish to be something we aren’t made to be.
As much self-talk as it sometimes takes me to accept my ivory hide and bookish brain, this is me. Believe me, attempts to change these basic components of my selfhood have failed! It’s time to move on. So. What are you going to stop apologizing for?