#28: Sincere apologizes

– Contributed by Wee C

I’m really sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written. Oh, and I’m terribly sorry that I took a hiatus from writing about my 30 Things…word on the street is that our readers would like me to finish writing about everything on the list. So for that, I apologize. No, really, truly, please accept my most sincere apologizes. Consider me back on the wagon.

Are you feeling like I need to get a grip yet? Like you don’t really care near as much as I do about any of this foolishness? I’m certain you’re shaking your head, if only just a slight shift back and forth, thinking that I may be overdramaticizing the severity of my blogging absence. Ugh, there I go again, putting words into people’s mouths. I’m so sorry.

Sorry. I apologize. Sincere apologizes. Regrets…I’ve had a few. If anyone has learned the art of the apology, of accepting responsibility (even when it’s nowhere near mine to accept) it’s me. Truthfully, if there’s one skill I’ll toot my own horn about, it’s apologizing. I’m really, really good at it. I know what you all are thinking: too good. Back off for a wee second, will you? I’ll get to the downside in a minute. For Pete’s sake, we all know it’s not like I can wave my “proud of myself” flag without, at some point, apologizing for being boastful. Give me 100 words to bask in my own apologizing glory.

So, yes, I take a lot of pride in being able to humble myself enough to apologize for things I should apologize for. Like when I make a mistake at work and drop a ball (but I so RARELY do this that an apology is seldom in order…right, team?!), or when I accidentally bump into someone, or when I say something that insults or hurts someone else (OK, that makes me want to apologize AND buy flowers AND hug them repeatedly AND give them my first born dog). I’m the first one to admit my wrongs and take full responsibility for my actions. And when other people can’t do the same, I want to pull the curtains off the rods, violently scratch my head, stand outside and scream crazy famous-people quotes about the importance of saying you’re sorry, even quote the Bible. I think a whole lot of people could learn a thing or two from me in this department,’cause as far as I’m concerned there are way too many rude, self-centered, oblivious people (yeah, I’m talking to you) out there who need to learn how to simply say “I’m sorry”…especially in circumstances when those two words are the hardest, and yet most important, to say.

Sorry, I’m climbing off of my soapbox now. So this is all fine and dandy, and in the big picture we likely all agree with my idealistic philosophy. But here’s where things fall apart. I don’t just say “sorry” when it’s important. I say it when it’s meaningless, making the times when it needs to mean something, mean a whole lot less. You still with me? I say it when I wake up in the morning. “Sorry, hubby, but can you please turn off the alarm for the seventeenth time this morning.” I say it to my dogs. “I’m sorry Keelie and Mungo, I’d love to give you another treat, but you’ll get fat.” Too bad I haven’t learned to say the same thing to myself. I apologize to inanimate objects. “Sorry, Mr. Jeans, but you make my ass look big today. You need to stay folded in the closet.” I genuinely wish I was joking.

Sorry (or any other variation) has become so entrenched in my vernacular that I use it to fill in the gaps, like a Valley Girl who incessantly says “like” or “uh huh!”. It’s my crutch. So when Big L issued me the challenge of going 24 hours without saying “I’m sorry” or “sorry” or expressing the sentiment of apology in any form, I knew it had to be a 30 Thing. This is one of those personal hang ups that 30 Things was designed to address.

Foolishly, I was confident that this challenge would be a pretty easy one to complete. Ever tried to remove a word that you use all the time from your vocabulary? Think about it for a moment and you’ll quickly realize just how naive I was. My confidence only served to reinforce my procrastinating ways. I figured I could complete this challenge in the last 24 hours if I needed to. But about a week and a half before hand, I decided I would give it a dry run, just to be sure. You see, no one else around me had any faith that I could do this. No, really, not a soul thought I would actually finish this task. I was so sure they were wrong. After an entire day, the longest I had gone without using that word was 15 MINUTES! Seriously? Seriously.

This was a game changer. A TSN Turning Point. I was down to the wire on my 30 Things list and I didn’t have anything else up my sleeve to replace this item if I didn’t complete it. I had left myself with no choice. At this point, I started apologizing to myself for being such a habitual procrastinator. So, eight days before my thirtieth birthday I woke up with conviction. The next 24-hours would be apology-less. Thirty minutes in, it slipped. So I pressed the reset button at 7:30 am and started again. And for the next SIX days, I pressed the reset button over, and over, and over (and over and over and over) again. I would go six hours and slip, 45 minutes, 13 hours, and so on. The longest I had gone was 18 hours and then, traumatically, it happened again.

I was getting desperate and I frantically began looking for something else that could do to replace this task. Peeing on the side of the highway (seriously, I’ve never done this) became a very real and frightening option. I decided to give it one last go. I dug deep, committed and completed 24 hours without uttering any of the forbidden words or sentiments. I’ve completed major projects, won an international award for my work (nice drop, eh?), and earned a few other recognitions along the way. But this was one of my greatest personal accomplishments ever.

And I gotta tell you that the feeling of not apologizing for every last thing was incredibly liberating. The omnipresent burden of guilt that I carry around with me on a daily basis was silenced and in many ways that gave me a greater voice than I’ve ever experienced. Now, don’t be fooled. I’m still using these words with reckless abandon, but I’m acutely aware of my usage and I don’t feel the least bit sorry for biting my tongue on occasion.

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