I saw it on social media somewhere: Reddit, Tumblr, maybe Facebook - although it doesn't really matter. A little image someone had posted that encouraged people to say 'thank you' instead of 'sorry'. As someone who habitually apologizes for everything in the world, I scoffed at such a suggestion. Apologizing, I thought, somehow made me humble. Modest. Some elusive and wishy-washy attribute I was convinced that Nice Girls™ were supposed to have. I had convinced myself that saying I was sorry for things completely out of my control showed some level of superior empathy.
I was, of course, wrong.
There are plenty of situations where apologizing is necessary and appropriate: when you have legitimately wronged somewhere, or as an expression of sympathy for a loss. But that's not what I was doing. I was saying sorry for everything.
I bump into someone on the street? I'm sorry.
Someone on the street bumps into me? I'm sorry.
Someone holds an elevator for me? I'm sorry.
I'm in a bad mood? I'm sorry.
Complete stranger is in a bad mood? I'm sorry.
This was clearly not me being humble or modest or anything good I thought I was being. This was a verbal tick I was relying on for every situation, whenever I needed something to say, warranted or not.
Last night, my boyfriend and I were alone in an elevator as we made our way up to the top deck of the cruise ship we live and work on for a New Year's Eve party. He didn't want to go, and I knew that. He doesn't like parties, or crowds, and he'd always rather be in bed by midnight.
I was about to apologize - to say I was sorry for making him stay up late and go to a party. As I opened my mouth, though, I remembered that scoffed-at social media post. I and realized what they had meant. So instead of saying, sorry, what I said was:
"Thank you for staying up late and coming with me."
So that is my resolution. To stop apologizing for everything in the world, and start saying thank you instead.