Studies reveal women apologize more than men. This isn’t to say men resist taking responsibility for their actions or are trying to appear strong. In actuality, men are apologizing less because they have a “higher threshold for what they think warrants reparation.”
While apologizing is good because it’s an act of empathy, it’s time for women to heighten their threshold for what warrants an apology as well. We need to stop apologizing for things as a result of navigating a sexist workplace, attempting to appear more likeable or simply for being women.
Here are 17 things women unnecessarily apologize for daily:
1. Asking a question
There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking a question. Often, it’s actually a sign of confidence and intelligence. Furthermore, your need to ask a question is usually a result of someone else’s failure to explain whatever it is you have a question about. That doesn’t mean they’re at fault, but it certainly doesn’t make you at fault either.
2. Asking someone to move out of the way
If a group of people is using the entire breadth of the stairwell as a personal clubhouse, you don’t need to apologize for their lack of consideration. It’s polite to say, “Excuse me,” but you definitely don’t have to apologize.
3. Being “girly”
If you like pink and nail polish and rainbows and butterflies, there is not one thing wrong with that. Our culture tends to shame things that are considered “feminine,” but there is nothing shameful about having “girly” preferences. We should be a part of changing the perception of feminine things instead of buying into the idea that there is something wrong with them.
4. Not being “feminine”
On the flip-side, if you don’t have a taste for wearing skirts and petting bunny rabbits, there is nothing wrong with that or you. You do not have to apologize for being yourself.
5. Being emotional
Crying is a natural bodily function that you probably don’t have control of; it’s okay if it happens. You also have every right to feel frustrated or to feel happy. Being emotional is part of being human, and you don’t have to apologize if it’s showing.
6. Not looking perfect
Choosing not to flat-iron one’s hair and smear makeup all over one’s face is not something anyone should have to apologize for.
7. Eating or not eating
If you don’t want to eat a cookie because you don’t want it, you shouldn’t be shamed for “trying to lose weight.” On the other hand, if you want two cookies, you shouldn’t feel shame either. You don’t need to own up to anyone for your eating choices.
8. Doing your job
Our society teaches women to be uncomfortable with power even when they have a right to it. If it’s your job to supervise other people’s jobs, you don’t need to apologize to them when you do that. If it’s your job to collect data from other employees, you don’t need to apologize for asking for it.
9. Making life choices
If you want to quit your job to pursue the theater, that is your prerogative. If you choose to accept a CEO position, you can. If your ambition is to be a stay-at-home mom, that’s great too. We need to stop apologizing to other people (including other women) for living our lives in a way that makes us happy.
10. Touching someone accidentally
Our culture tries to sterilize physical touch, but sometimes you brush someone’s arm when you pass and that’s okay.
11. Having a differing opinion
Don’t think for a second there’s something wrong with having different beliefs than other people or for expressing those beliefs. As long as you are considerate and tactful, there’s no need to apologize.
12. Not responding immediately
You don’t have to respond to a text, voicemail, email or smoke signal immediately. If you are busy or don’t feel like communicating in that very moment, it doesn’t mean you have to apologize for living your life.
13. Asking for help
Don’t buy into the idea that you have to be absolutely self-sufficient all the time. We live in communities so we can rely on other people when necessary. You can ask someone to watch your kids or take you to the airport without apologizing for the fact that you can’t do everything yourself.
14. Having me time
Sometimes you need to be alone and that is A-OK.
15. Having a “messy” home
So there’s dirt on the baseboards you haven’t gotten around to scrubbing for a good minute; or your kids or roommates or yourself left stuff all over the couches. It’s okay – it happens to everyone; you are not required to ask forgiveness.
16. Not being perfect
You have flaws, so does everyone. Accept them as part of you and expect other people to accept them too. You can and should apologize for allowing your flaws to hurt other people, but having them is no reason to be sorry – you’re a work in progress.
You shouldn’t feel guilty for apologizing; it’s a sign you care about other people. However, as this list shows, you don’t have to apologize for everything.