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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Sorry, not sorry

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Sometimes, I don’t even realize that I’m apologizing. The word “sorry” often tumbles from my mouth, and up until today I didn’t think about the reasons behind this subconscious need to not offend. I could just chalk-it-up to being surrounded my entire life by excessively polite Minnesotans, but I know that other socialization factors are at play.

What really got me thinking about this issue was a video by BuzzFeed, which showed the day of a man versus that of a women. There was a scenario, one that I’ve experienced countless times, where the man and the women are asking their colleagues to copy some papers for their next work meeting. The man gives directions in a casual, matter-of-fact way, whereas the women carefully phrases how grateful she is for this favor…how sorry she is for inconveniancing them. Even though she simply was doing her job, she felt like she was being bothersome and needed to tone herself down, or else risk seeming bossy.

After watching the video, I counted how many times I said sorry for the remainder of the day. My count, from today at 10:00am-10:00pm, is 36 times. It would have been higher, but since I was taking count, I stopped this instinct many times.

Most of these anxious apologies were me making perfectly reasonable requests. Even though I knew I was justified in my actions, I couldn’t help overthinking these interactions; being mad at myself whenever I gave up the ruse and let myself be visibly annoyed.

I don’t tip-toe around life; I normally snip life’s unseen puppet strings the moment they try to tie me up. However, habits are tricky. They aren’t so much strings as invisible hands gently pushing us towards conclusions we think are our own. I’m not saying that women should never say sorry. Just as I believe in the power of candidness, I know I can’t say exactly what I feel every second of my life. However, I think it’s important to be aware of that word’s subtle influence on the lives of women. In a world that asks us to apologize for everything from wearing a low-cut top to being too focused on achieving our dreams, let’s give ourselves a break. 

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