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Stop Apologizing!

"Sorry, but I have a question"

"Sorry to bother you, but...."

" can I place an order?"

"I might be wrong but..."


We all have a bad habit of starting our sentences with "sorry". Why do we do this? I've made a conscious habit of taking the word "sorry" out of my vocabulary and IT.IS.REFRESHING.

Historically, women have been told to stay quiet. Don't make a scene. Don't talk too much. Don't argue. These are all tactics that encourage silence, which suggests that if we do the opposite, we need to apologize profusely for breaking the rules. This notion has been embedded into societies across the world and while many people might think that women are only silenced in Eastern societies, the fact remains that we are not immune to it in the West.

Apologies should be made when you've committed an indecent act that may have caused a person harm. It shows you have empathy, and that you are able to admit when you're wrong. Why then, do women start conversations by apologizing when they have a RIGHT to speak?

I hear apologies from women a lot on the mats and it irritates me to no end. I don't get irritated with the person, rather my irritation is more directed at the fact that for decades, women have automatically assumed that what they are doing is inherently wrong. Women have been conditioned to take blame for things not in their control, and what astonishes me more is that girls will even apologize for their achievements. A prime example of this was when Canadian Bianca Andreseescu won the U.S. Open in 2019 against Serena Williams and immediately apologized for her win. Social media went crazy as people admired her Canadian mannerisms. I remember thinking, 'girl you WON! WHY ARE YOU APOLOGIZING???'. This wasn't about having Canadian manners, rather it profoundly illustrated a long-established norm. It's disappointing that an athlete like her who spent her life training and then defeating an icon at an elite event felt compelled to apologize for something she rightfully earned.

I remember rolling with a girl to whom I was teaching a trap and roll escape. When she finally got the hang of it and successfully rolled me over, she immediately started apologizing, "sorry! sorry!". I told her to stop right there, and own the damn trap and roll.

I've had girls at my academy coming up to me asking for tape to cover up their earrings fervently apologizing for even asking.

I myself was once an apologizer. Whenever I would raise my hand it school, like clockwork the first thing to come out of my mouth was, "sorry! But I have a question...". I look at my 15 year old self and say. 'girl what the hell were you apologizing for??'.

I am fully aware that some may not have the confidence to speak up, or that some may be heavily influenced by cultural dynamics, however I believe that this is a learnt behaviour. Do you know a child that will just willingly take the blame for everything? They are taught to apologize if they've done something wrong. This learnt behaviour is repeated so many times that eventually it becomes automatic and we subconsciously do it without even thinking.

When I look back at my life and think about when I was at my lowest in my teen years, it was because my confidence was taken away from me. I had it. It was there. I remember being out-spoken and getting in trouble for "talking too much". The shame was painted on at a very young age, and my confidence was yanked out of my hands. The end result? I would apologize for curiosity. Apologize for wanting to know the right answer to a question. Apologize for inconveniencing the person who was being paid to take my order at Subway. When I think about it, it sounds absolutely ridiculous!

When we hear it, we need to call it out. Not just in our families or friend circles, we need to do a better job at calling it out when we hear it in public places as well. We need to teach our girls that assertiveness is not a masculine trait. We need to stop the shaming, rather we need to encourage curiosity. When we hear a girl, woman, elderly apologize for speaking, we need to stop them right there as they may not even realize that they are indirectly shaming themselves. We need to unapologetically own up to our achievements, and acknowledge that we rightfully earned that title, that trophy, or that medal. Let's be kind to ourselves, and give ourselves some grace.

Here are a few simple ways to start: If there's a wait on the phone, say 'Thank you for waiting', or, 'I appreciate your patience' rather than 'Sorry for making you wait'.

Instead of saying 'Sorry for complaining', say, 'Thanks for listening'.

Instead of saying, 'Sorry to bother you', say, 'Thank you for taking the time'.

Instead of saying, 'Sorry for all the questions!', say, 'I really appreciate you taking the time to answer all my questions'.

Leave me a comment if you have other suggestions for readers!



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm Zenab! I hope you enjoy reading about my musings in the world of entrepreneurship as I navigate reaching my Jiu Jitsu goals while helping other women achieve theirs. 

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