5 Things Women Need to Stop Apologizing For
As women, we have been socialized into accepting narrow definitions of what it means to be palatable women in society. The acceptance of these definitions has undermined our authenticity, personal boundaries, and the power of our voice.
As a professional life coach, I witness a lot of women apologizing in ways that do not serve them. I believe that women need to break the shackles to other’s expectations so they can live the truth of who they are.
Here are 5 things I advise women to stop apologize for:
Showing emotions other than happiness.
Many women can relate to minding their business, walking down the street and having a male stranger yelling at them to “smile.” There is an unrealistic expectation that a woman should always be happy or pretend to be, and that a woman who doesn’t constantly project happiness is damaged goods. I can’t count the amount of times I have heard women apologize when they cry. Happiness is a splendid emotion, but we are lying to ourselves and the world if we project the image that that is all there is to a woman. Allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to show how you genuinely feel, knowing that it takes far more strength to express emotions that may spark social backlash than it does to suppress them.
Holding people accountable for unacceptable behavior.
Something I have experienced myself and a pattern I have noticed among other women is feeling guilty for holding people accountable. In order to not get caught in the throes of guilt for daring to speak up, you have to believe that you are entitled to justice. It can’t be something that you think is nice to have, or is optional. If someone violates your boundaries, you have the inalienable right to confront them. Anyone who tries to make you feel otherwise is manipulating you.
Saying no without detailed explanations.
No is no. You don’t owe anyone a 10 page essay on why you don’t want to do something. When you allow people to drag you into never-ending explanations of your position, you come across as doubtful of your right to have personal boundaries. Explaining why you have declined an offer is a courtesy. Don’t let anyone make you believe that it is a prerequisite to finalizing your decision. Saying no is a final decision, not a negotiation.
Having unglamorous moments.
Real life is not a Marilyn Monroe movie. Glamour is just hard work that is hidden from the public, and like most hard work, eventually you get burned out and your humanity shows. Sometimes your hair is in rollers, you have a zit or, heaven help us, you have to burp. Your entire value as a woman shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet because the secret got out that you aren’t perfect. You don’t have to apologize for being human.
Having passionate opinions.
Being dynamic or outspoken isn’t reserved for men. Women often water down and sanitize their public opinions out of fear of looking alpha or unladylike. The more women push back from conversations rather than lean in, the less women will ultimately influence the world. Women are a minority and cannot afford to stifle valuable opinions because they would prefer to seem nice or dateable. Your voice has the power to change the world. Don’t hesitate to use it.