Why Women Need To Stop Saying 'I'm Sorry' As A Gut Reflex

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I Am SO Done Saying "I'm Sorry" And You Should Be, Too

I am one of those people who bad things happen to. 

I am the woman who breaks her high heel and gets covered in mud when the taxi speeds by. 

I am the woman minding her own business at the bus stop whom the unstable person decides to verbally assault. 

I am the woman who dates men who reduce her to rubble just because she is an easy target.

And what do I say whenever any of this happens to me? "I'm sorry."

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I live in a busy city. As a pedestrian, you look where you're going so that you don't elbow someone or step on a heel. If someone elbows me or steps on my heel, it's followed by a scowl, one that seems to be them asking me, "How dare you be in my way?"

I slump my shoulders a little and say, "I'm sorry," ignoring the dull ache in my stomach.

The hippie in me believes that part of the reason people walk all over me is because of an energy I'm putting out. Of course, a man who spies dog feces in his front yard will yell at me about when I walk by, even if I don't have a dog with me. Just look at me — I'm the living embodiment of apology. 

But I'm not exactly the same person as I was in my teens, a mess of acne and insecurity. I know when I'm in the wrong and I know when I'm not, and as tempting as my hippie ideas about positive and negative energy are to indulge in, I know when victim blaming is happening. 

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The only thing I'm guilty of doing is being kind and open in a world that doesn't reward that kind of behavior.

I'm not saying I'm a saint. I snap at my boyfriend and at my roommate when I'm having a bad day. I get sullen and uncommunicative. Saying sorry to folks about that is just good manners. 

But I need to make occasions where I've hurt someone the only times I ever apologize. I catch myself doing it at other times, and I realize that every time I do, it is my way of apologizing for existing. 

If I'm feeling carsick while riding somewhere with my boyfriend, I'll apologize at the end of the drive. "Sorry I was so quiet," I'll say. Instead, what should come out of my mouth (besides my lunch) is this, "Thank you for loving me even when I'm not feeling well."

After venting my frustrations about my week to my best friend, I'll apologize. "Sorry I'm talking so much," I'll say. What I really mean is, "Hey, thank you for letting me get all of this out of my system. I don't get to do that very often."

I want to stop apologizing when I should not have to, because I think women spend too much apologizing for existing anyway.

When a man spreads out his legs on the train and I squeeze into the corner so he has plenty of space, I'm apologizing for taking up room on the planet. It's the same when someone runs into me on the street and just keeps going.

I shouldn't be saying sorry when it means, "I hate that I exist enough to get in your way." 

By the very fact that I live and breathe, I have a right to be here. So do you. There is nothing about the fact that you exist that requires apology. Apologies should be reserved solely for the times where we hurt someone knowingly or unknowingly.

They shouldn't be casually handed out, and they certainly shouldn't undermine your existence. 

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She's an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.