The Curse of the Apology

When ‘I’m Sorry’ becomes the words we let slip

Friend, first, it is important for me to explain that the apology I sincerely believe is a curse is the unnecessary one.

For example, you laugh too loudly at a joke that only you seem to get.

I’m sorry, you say.

You get lost in thought, only to realize that you’re staring at a stranger.

I’m sorry, you say.

You get ‘too’ excited about something you’re passionate about.

I’m sorry, you say.

Our days are filled with these unnecessary apologies. The ones that suggest that there is some part of you for which you need to apologize.

Let me be clear, friend, there isn’t. Whomever you are, those qualities and idiosyncrasies. Those things that make you uniquely you. Those are not the things you apologize for.

Showing up late, forgetting a special event, breaking something, losing something. These are the types of things that may require an apology. Misunderstandings, arguments, again, apologize away, send flowers even.

There is something powerful in a genuine apology. An admission of a mistake, or imperfection can allow you to move forward and grow, and also shows that you’re human. There are things for which an apology is warranted, and even required. An apology can be a powerful tool in showing empathy and sympathy for another human being. An apology can open a door for further conversation and re-connection.

This is not the type of apology that slips from my lips and leads me to kick myself in frustration.

It’s the apology I make when I speak in an accent and note odd looks, or when I skip across the street and realize that I am on a solo journey, or when I laugh too loudly at my own jokes, when no one else gets the punch line.

I’m sorry, I say.

Why am I sorry? Why are these things for which I seem to think an apology is warranted, when — in reality — it isn’t? Or, how about when I arrive at the door to the Safeway at the same time as someone else… we have that awkward.. pause..walk…pause…walk dance.

Then we laugh and say, I’m sorry.

Wouldn’t it have been sufficient to just laugh and to document the moment as a silly coincidence of fate? Nope, we had to toss in the unnecessary apology.

There was a time when I didn’t feel the need to apologize for all my various ‘infractions’, I am sure of it. Maybe it was when I was two? In my humble experience, two-year-olds don’t care one iota about what others think. A two year old will sing and dance in grocery stores, walk up to a stranger just to tell him they like his giant handlebar moustache, and notice something about someone that makes them appear ‘different’ and unapologetically ask what happened without fear of any sort of repercussion, and then invite said person to their next birthday party.

At some point between two and… well… I am not certain when the apology curse first struck, but it did, and sometimes I long to return to the time when I could live without the curse of the unnecessary apology

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