A few days ago, as I was coming inside from my walk, I noticed the disarray of my flower beds. While my initial first thought should have been “We have some beautiful plants in our front yard,” my actual thought was that I’d need to apologize to my friends who were coming over and would see the weeds. Do you hear the lunacy in that? You might – but I’ll bet it doesn’t stop you from apologizing for all kinds of crazy things too.
I wanted to apologize to my friends for having weeds in my yard. I’ve had friends apologize for not having makeup on or for having stains on their shirts. Strangers have apologized for their child waving at me in the grocery store. Last week, a woman literally apologized to me for stepping off an elevator I was waiting to get on.
Apologies are for when we’ve hurt someone. We apologize when we’ve been unkind, broken a promise, or not followed through with something we committed to. But when we’re apologizing for taking up space – for being human – for being normal, we need to ask ourselves WHY.
Why are we apologizing?
Let’s think about an apology for a minute. An apology implies two things. 1 – I did something wrong. 2. I wronged someone else.
Could it be that we’re all operating under the assumption that we’re meant to be perfect? That we’re meant to please everyone? That the slightest leaning towards regularity requires an apology? It’s malarkey. But, it’s where we are.
As I stopped to reflect on my impulse to apologize for having weeds in my flower beds, I realized the “wrong” I had committed was not maintaining my yard perfectly. My flower beds will never be on Pinterest and this was my crime. I felt like I needed to apologize to my friends because they would learn that I’m not capable of doing all the things.
Embarrassment. Pride. A need to prove my worth – my value – my “goodness.”
These are shame responses. Shame is the liar that whispers in your ear, “you are not enough.”
And I believe those four sinister words are at the heart of our instinct to apologize for absolutely everything.
Perfect is not a thing and attempting to make everyone happy will only make YOU miserable. We have to unlearn our deep-seated instinct to feel bad for being human. We have to unburden ourselves from the layers upon layers of ridiculous expectations we heap on our shoulders. We have to be brave enough to stop trying to prove that we’re good enough.
It starts with recognizing there was never anything to prove in the first place. You are enough as is. Full stop. You are flawed. You are messy. You are beautifully and imperfectly yourself. So stop apologizing for taking up space. Stop being sorry for being imperfect. Stop apologizing for having weeds in your flower beds and for being on an elevator. It’s crazy.
Letting people see your everyday imperfect life isn’t hurting them – it’s actually helping them. When we learn to be vulnerable, authentic, and non-Instagrammable in front of others, we chip away at the walls of this dangerous “prove yourself” culture we find ourselves in. So, I’m asking you to revel in the weeds – knowing they mean you chose something of greater value to you. Own the stain on your shirt because it means you were caring for your family. Smile and say hello to the people waiting to get on the elevator instead of apologizing for existing. You’re enough beautiful friend. Enough. Enough. Enough. (And I’m not even a tiny bit sorry I told you so.)