Sorry I'm Not Sorry: A List of Things I've Apologized for This Week

Monday, November 18, 2013

Because I have a notoriously terrible memory, I'm prone to keeping lists of things in my phone, just so I can keep track of them. Sometimes the lists are "important," like workout routines & stuff I need to pick up from the grocery store. Most of them, though, are less vital: to-do items before I turn 30, things I'd rather spend my money on than car repairs, scenes from Dawson's Creek that have made me cry. Recently, I added a new list to the, uh, list: "Things I've Apologized for Lately." After a week of keeping this list, here's a peek at what it looks like.

I have apologized for:
  • Taking more than one tweet to finish a sentence
  • Telling someone my name was Kate when my account was listed under Sara
  • Missing the initial call when a delivery guy rang to let me know he'd arrived
  • Pushing my cat off the couch
  • Using an exclamation point in a text where no exclamation point belonged
  • Spelling my name too quickly when the Apple guy was making an appointment for me
  • Being a huge bitch to the two Apple employees who were trying to help me get a new phone after I shattered mine 
  • Ugly-crying at the Apple store in front of a lot of people
  • Walking sort of in the vicinity of another person on a public sidewalk
  • Leaving work an hour early after I had a legitimate & terrible panic attack
  • Coming home from work early on my boyfriend's day off (you know, in case I'd interrupted his me-time)
  • Asking a busy barista a totally valid question about Starbucks' Veterans Day discount
  • Not responding in a timely manner to a text asking about Nickelodeon's GUTS
  • Almost being slammed into headfirst by a guy who was texting & walking
  • Being too busy during the workday to have a full & focused phone conversation with my mom
  • Gchatting with a friend & rambling about some things I've been stressed about
  • Canceling a session with my personal trainer
  • Napping for an hour longer than I meant to
  • Not making pumpkin cheesecake for my boyfriend to take to work, like I said I would
  • Taking five days to respond to a personal email
  • Not knowing the difference between registered & certified USPS mail
  • Asking a stranger at Starbucks to keep an eye on my laptop while I ran to the bathroom
  • Following up with someone for a third time after I didn't hear back from her on a fairly time-sensitive request 
  • Saying something to my boyfriend that hurt his feelings
  • Eating a sandwich during a video chat meeting
  • Taking sort of a long time to remove files from my iPad & reset it
  • Not being prepared to discuss something my boss sprung on me at a meeting
  • Emailing the IT department with a sort-of-dumb question
  • My debit card inexplicably not working & a cafe worker having to manually type in my card number instead
  • Working late (er, 6:30pm)
  • Not having the emotional energy to travel home to Ohio for Christmas
  • Tweeting while drunk
  • Being sick on a weekend 
  • Dragging my boyfriend to Urgent Care with me on a Saturday
  • Not turning on my video during a conference call because I was sick
  • Arriving two minutes late to a conference call
  • Muting myself on a conference call because someone was mowing the lawn outside my apartment window
  • Asking my boss to re-send me a password because the one she'd previously sent was incorrect
  • Asking a coworker if we could have a one-on-one call to discuss something he needed me to do for him because I wasn't totally clear on it after a fleeting team conversation
  • Using the phrase "Twitter famous"
And these are just the ones I thought to write down. Do you know how many of these "apologies," out of the thirty-nine of them that I recorded, were actual apologies that needed to be made? Two. Yes, two. I shouldn't have made that comment to my boyfriend that hurt his feelings, & it was rude of me to yell at the Apple folks who were trying to help me, even if they were telling me I owed them $300. The rest? Were wholly unnecessary.

It's colloquial, I suppose, the word "sorry." We say it when we mean "excuse me"; we say it when someone is going through a difficult time, even if it has nothing to do with us; we say it about little things & big things alike; we say it about things that certainly don't require us to be sorry or even apologetic; we say it when what we really mean is, "I know this has been a small inconvenience upon you & I want to absolve myself of any guilt for my involvement in that."

It is apparently a widespread myth that the Eskimos have an unusually large number of words to mean "snow." Still, I can't help but think of this claim when I think more about the word "sorry." How often are we really sorry? What does "sorry" even mean? Isn't there some other word we could use for "I know this has been a small inconvenience upon you & I want to absolve myself of any guilt for my involvement in that"? Because that's too many words to use 39 times a week, but I'm also tired of saying I'm sorry when I'm not really sorry at all.

When we say we're sorry for 37 ridiculous things that do not require our apologies, do we demean the two that do? Does "I'm sorry" lose its meaning when we use it for everything? Because I don't think "using an exclamation point in a text where no exclamation point belongs" & "hurting the feelings of someone I care deeply about" deserve the same reaction from me.

I'm tired of apologizing for my existence. I'm not sorry anymore - unless I am, in which case, you'll know that I mean it.

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