Saturday, July 20, 2013

I'm Not Sorry

Let's pose a hypothetical, now. Imagine you're sitting with a friend who has had a particularly bad day (or week, or month, or...well, you understand) and you have been listening to them as they detail in length how absolutely awful their (previous time period here) has been. At the end of everything, perhaps you have advice for them, perhaps nothing but someone to gripe to, but whatever you have, you tell them, "I'm sorry about (insert something here)." And they reply, "It's okay, it's not your fault."

Can I just say, this is one of my pet peeves. I know it's not my fault. (And if it was, don't tell me it's not!) I am simply trying to express that I feel for you. Take my empathy, dammit!

When I express this to friends after aforementioned exchange (yes, usually in a very annoyed voice--which actually serves two purposes, the first to express my legitimate annoyance, the second to get their minds off of what has happened to them), they tell me they know this. So why is it such a problem to accept?

Are we conditioned to not accept others' sympathy? I know, myself, I hate seeing myself as a "burden"--whether or not I actually am a burden does not matter, what matters is that I see myself this way. And I know that my parents raised me well, with enough self-interest to survive comfortably, so why do I still hate being a burden? Why do I hate it when other people think about me? Why do any of us?

One of my mother's favorite quotes is, "You wouldn't care so much about what others think about you if you realized how little they did" (I have no idea where the quote is from, nor whether that is the quote itself, but you get the idea. I know how little time people--other than my friends--spend thinking of me. What vexes me is how much time I spend thinking about other people; it seems the ratio of my thoughts of others to others thoughts of me doesn't balance out. I'm not sure whether I like the feeling. But then again, when people express that they think of me (usually positively to my face--like well-raised individuals, we all know how to gossip), I am supremely uncomfortable. It is only recently that I have begun to be able to accept compliments graciously. Perhaps part of this is the fact is that it is only recently that I have begun to accept that I'm not sorry.

I'm not sorry that I believe, inherently, that everyone is intelligent, and should be treated as such until proven wrong. I'm not sorry that I don't put up with crap. I'm not sorry that I make no effort to speak with people who I do not like on a regular basis. I'm not sorry that I believe I write well, I'm not sorry I believe I can draw as well. I'm not sorry that I like to bake and cook, and I'm not sorry that I like to wear dresses and high heels and I like when my hair lays nice, and that I occasionally like a good dance tune.

I could probably write an entire blog post only about the thing's I'm not sorry about, but let's suffice to say, I'm not sorry about any of the things that make up who I am, whether that is my snappy fashion sense, or my sarcasm, or my snorts. And it is only recently, I think, that I have begun to accept that.

We're conditioned to think that we should be humble, that we should accept compliments graciously, that we shouldn't be egotistical. But I hold that we should be a little proud, a little ungracious. Let's all take a moment and revel in our individual awesomeness. Because I guarantee you, it's there.

But how does this relate to our own reactions to sympathy? I have to admit, as annoyed as I am with the "I'm sorry" and ensuing exchange, I'm not very likely to say "I feel for you" or something of the sort, instead. I don't know why; perhaps it's because of the frivolous way we seem to throw phrases like that around. When I say "I'm sorry," I want to be genuinely sincere, 90% of the time (the other 10%, I'm just super pissed, and am using the phrase the bitchy way), so phrases that I use everyday? Not what I'm going to use. So why must we question our own sincerity?

I don't think "sorry" has anything to do with how we view ourselves: we shouldn't be sorry for who we are, what we love, or what we do. I think "sorry" is all about how we deal with other people, and therein lies the importance of sincerity.

I move that we stop undermining our own, and other's sincerity. I move that when we apologize 90% of the time, we be sincere (reserve the other 10% for your own doing). I move that sympathy be accepted, along with compliments. And I move that when I tell you "I'm sorry" in reference to a bad experience, you don't tell me it's not my fault, because I already know that, thank you very much, and I'm not blaming myself at all.

Anyone with me?

"No quote because I just moved into a new apartment and I don't have the energy to find one in the limited stack of books I have with me."

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