I don’t know when I started apologizing. I know, even now, as a mom, it was one of the first things I taught my daughter to do. To say sorry. If you hurt someone, physically or emotionally, you have to say sorry. I believe in that. I believe in the power of a sincere apology.
But somewhere along the way I became apology girl. I apologize for everything.
You forgot we were having lunch together? No, totally my fault. You misread an email? I probably wasn’t clear. I did a great job on a project? Well, you gave me great information to work with.
I see so many women doing this. It’s like we are afraid to take credit for a job well done, but are the first to take responsibility for everything that went wrong.
This weekend I was a co-officiant of a wedding (not to be confused with the big number in front of a symbol in a chemical equation). I let my “part” of the ceremony bounce around in my head for a few weeks before the wedding and then I banged it out two nights before. (This is how I roll, book agents be forewarned). I cried when I wrote it. Mostly because I am a giant wuss now that I have procreated, and because I truly love the people I was writing about. After I delivered my “part” in the ceremony, and after the whole husband-and-wife-bit, I had lots of people come up and tell me I’d done a wonderful/great/good job. I made myself say, “thank you”.
Just, thank you.
Not, “it was easy writing about people so in love”. Not, “really?” Not, “so-and-so did great too”.
Just, thank you.
It was tough. Very tough. I peppered in some “I-was-so-nervous-es” completely involuntarily. It’s such a knee-jerk reaction, but for the most part I said “thank you”. Just, thank you. I meant every single one. I truly did. I was sincerely grateful for the praise and attention. And guess what? People didn’t say (at least to my face), “what a snob” or “she’s so conceited”. I think I was so afraid of just thank you because I was worried about what other people would think if I didn’t make an excuse or put the credit off on someone else, but how ridiculous is that? I wrote it. It was mine and I am very proud of it. I’m glad to know it meant so much to the bride and groom. I’m happy it touched people in the audience. I wrote something meant to make a second in time as special as I possibly could for two people who mean the world to me. I am proud of that. I should be proud of that.
My dad has always gotten on to me about the “I’m sorry’s”. I’m starting to get it, now. When I look at my daughter, I don’t want her to apologize for being great. I don’t want her to prefer to pass the credit along because she’s afraid of being powerful or looked at too closely. I want her to know it is ok to to be proud of things she does well. I want her to know it’s ok to just say, “thank you”.
I want to be a writer. I want to be paid for my words. I want to do book signings and interviews and know that something I wrote meant something to people I’ve never met; and there’s no sign-up sheet for that. No one is handing that out. I have to go get it. I want that life for myself and I want it for my family. I’m not going to apologize for wanting it, anymore, and I’m not going to apologize for busting my ass to get it. It’s going to be hard and it’s going to be exhausting and it’s going to be worth it. And when I get it I’m going to say, “thank you”–to everyone who helped me, to everyone who supported me and to everyone who believed in me. Thank you.
Just, thank you.