By Ashley Williams
Do you ever find yourself apologizing before saying something? I admit, I do this often before asking a question or making a statement. I never really caught wind that I was someone that did this until my professor called it out in class. My professor, a former lawyer, and in my opinion, a female powerhouse makes it her duty to let our class know that our opinions matter. She is quick to encourage us to speak our truth and often tell us, “Don’t apologize.” She corrects us every time we apologize before asking a question or making a statement. “Don’t apologize, you are smart, and you are here for a reason; you don’t need to be sorry to speak your mind.”
With curiosity, I decided to count.1-2-3-4-5. 5 apologies within the first hour of class. 5 apologies for simply voicing opinions. And all 5 were from women. Throughout class, it went further than, “I’m sorry.” Some even started with, “This may sound dumb”, “This may not make sense,” and “This isn’t well thought out, but…” I’ve never had a professor call me out for being apologetic. However, I believe she recognized something that we had yet to grapple with as students. The class was predominately female, and we were just beginning to embark on the journey into a male-dominated field: policy. A field where downplaying your ideas by cushioning it with “I’m sorry”, would likely hold no weight or true value.
I feel like the idea that women should be meek and passive is still embedded in our own self biases. No matter much I try to shake it, no matter how much I proclaim myself as a Womanist, I know somehow it’s true for me, too. It’s only natural because we all have been socialized in this patriarchal society, but we don’t have to subject ourselves to the idea that our opinions do not matter or that we aren’t intelligent enough to think critically and engage in thought provoking conversations.
How can we become less unnecessarily apologetic?
Affirmations: Self Affirmations not only allow to give yourself grace, but they also allow you to feel confident. And it feels good too say, “I am smart”, “my words have value”. I recommend making it a habit to affirm yourself daily. It is good for the soul.
Practice: There is no better way to get good at something, than practicing. Remaining conscience of any implicit biases and internal oppression. Actively avoid saying sorry when it is not necessary.
Reminders: Remind yourself and others, no question is a dumb question. Similar to self -affirmations, remind yourself that your thoughts have value.
Encourage: Support other women and encourage them to speak their truth regardless of how others may feel. I believe that speaking your truth is one of the best ways that a person can begin to heal. Even though some may try, no one can take away your truth. It’s yours.
I hope that these tips were helpful, or that you can at least read this post and realize that you are not alone. Even more so, that this is something that be overcome. Girl, don’t apologize because your voice matters; I want to hear you, loud and proud.
Ashley Williams is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC.