The other day I counted how many times I said “sorry.” I was sorry I didn’t catch the door for the person behind me. Sorry I sweat so much at the gym that I smelled like I got a good workout. Sorry I almost bumped someone with my shopping cart as we both turned blind corners.

I feel as women we’ve almost been programmed to say sorry at any inconvenience we encounter, even if it’s not our fault. What if we apologize so much to others that we begin to think that we are sorry? That me juggling a toddler and shopping cart at once was no excuse for not bending over backwards to hold the door. I have felt at times that my mere existence in a certain situation was an inconvenience, and that’s not acceptable.

Now, there are many things I should apologize for. Like when I lazily left water on my parents’ wooden floors and they warped or the time I berated my mother because she annoyed me. Those are unacceptable things I’ve done and they deserve an honest and heartfelt apology. 

Then there are sometimes I’ve been made to feel like I should repent and I know there is no reason for it. I meditated on this subject and found a few things for which I should never apologize. It is not my intention to hurt anyone or cause a controversy, but rather leave real apologies for when they should be made.

So here I go.

I’m not sorry for being proud of my body. It’s not about weight or figure – that all fluctuates. I love the way my body looks with extra curves in a tight dress after indulging over the holidays just as much as I love the way my legs are cut when I wear shorts after a week heavy in strength exercise. Whether my thighs touch or not, I’m proud of their shape. They run, hike, and bike and are stronger some days than others. I love my bum whether there is more tone or more junk, and I try every day to love my stomach even more so because it grew and then shrunk. I won’t apologize for dressing a way in which I feel most comfortable, whether I’m feeling sexy or more modest (hey – modest can be sexy, too), and I’ll always dress to please myself.

I’m not sorry for leaving home. Let’s be clear here, I hate that I can’t see my grandmothers and parents on a regular basis, but living thousands of miles from home has taught me more than I ever imagined. It’s allowed me to feel normal when I often felt like the black sheep growing up. It has allowed for experiences I never would have had before, and it’s given me a whole new level of independence. I’m sorry when the distance hurts my family, but I think they see my happiness and that it’s been a beautiful thing for me.

I’m not sorry for my parenting choices. From breastfeeding a two year-old to not wanting visitors for the first six weeks after my child’s birth, I make the best choices I can for our family. I will never apologize for speaking gently to my child when he’s having a meltdown at Target nor will I feel bad for the times I allow him to choose whether he wants to hug someone or not. I hate that I’ve felt the need to apologize for any of these choices, but I’m glad I haven’t. 

I’m not sorry for my lack of religion. There is no denying that religion can be a force for good or sadly evil, and over the years I’ve experimented and studied and found that it’s just not for me, and that’s OK. For so many of my family members and some friends it’s been a beautiful journey and I’m so grateful they’ve had it through love and loss. All religions are mystifying to me and I love studying them and even taking little bits of wisdom from here or there, but as a whole, it just doesn’t work for me. For years I’ve felt the need to apologize for that but there is no need. I have morals and values and make mistakes like everyone else. There is no reason to pity me or feel the need to save me, I’m really alright. I’m grateful for prayers and hope my sending positivity and light make you feel loved also. 

I’m not sorry for my activism. Many conversations I have revolve around these topics and on any given day you can find a cause I support on my Facebook wall. I believe in human rights, civil rights, and equality. It’s something that our family revolves around and it’s very important to me – much like a religion. Sometimes I understand why someone wouldn’t agree with things for which I advocate, but oftentimes I can’t wrap my head around it. I’m not an offensive person and believe in free-will and free-thought, which also means I will not feel sorry for my engagement in social justice issues.

I’m going to stop repenting for the things that I feel are necessary because of how someone else may perceive them and start saving my apologies for when they are needed. This may seem combative, but it is anything but. So I’m going to start saving “sorry”; not out of disrespect for others, but respect for myself. 

The next time you feel the need to apologize, stop and ask if it is necessary or if you are caught in auto pilot. 

Brittany Cole

Not your average Southern Belle, Brittany is a native of Georgia living in South Florida. She attended Auburn University (WAR EAGLE!) where she received her Bachelors in Political Science and has a Masters in International Relations from The University of Oklahoma. Brittany has many passions in life, in addition to being a wife and mom. She loves all kitchen-based activities, traveling, being outdoors, reading, yoga, and dancing. When you cannot otherwise find her, check the local farmers market – she’s the one buying obscene amounts of kale and turnips. Britt lives every day by the Maya Angelou quote, “Do the best until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better”. Her mission in life is to raise a family of compassionate and empathetic humans while doing the best she can to make the world a more tolerant, beautiful place.