My Word for 2019: Unapologetic

Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

Sorry, I’m not sorry. My whole life I was taught to apologize for every little thing. At first, I was of course encouraged to show remorse for the big things, but big things turned into small things that were not my fault. I came to a point where I was apologizing for stumbling on my words, for sneezing, and for the way I felt. Over the years, I’ve realized how damaging that was to my identity. Why was I sorry for being me? Why are we taught to minimize who we are to appease everyone else?

2018 was the year I began to discover this. I was determined to do the work to find and own my worth, so I didn’t feel the compelling need to apologize anymore. That determination led to a long and sometimes painful journey of looking through my past and bringing to the surface all the reasons I am sorry for being me. However, in this journey I came to the discovery that my expectations and my reality were vastly different, and I held myself to an impossible standard that even the most perfect of people would still apologize for. Who wants to continue living that way? I began to understand that not meeting expectations is a part of the process, not a failure in the process. My flaws make me. By embracing who I am, including the good, bad, and ugly, I present myself confidently, tearing down the expectations of perfection and acceptance. I don’t HAVE to be liked by everyone, even though my whole life I apologized for my feelings and flaws in hopes others would still find me acceptable. I don’t NEED to be perfect despite the lifelong emphasis on excellent performance in everything I do. By managing my expectations, I accept me. And I no longer apologize for any of it.

In 2019 I’m not sorry. Does that mean I won’t accept responsibility for actual wrongdoings? No. I’m more than willing to seek forgiveness when I’ve made a mistake. But I am unapologetic for the rest. I own who I am, all of me. I’ve done the work to find what I believe in, how I want to treat others, and how to cope with my feelings. I’m no longer sorry for my mental illness or being an academic or being ambitious. I’m not sorry for expressing my feelings, for standing up against wrong, and addressing others who have hurt me. I’m not sorry for me because I say yes to all of me and I’m the only one that truly matters. I choose to step into the best of me and improve the worst of me in the years to come. I will live to the fullest knowing my worth and value. I will move forward with confidence, perseverance, and the reminder that being flawed is inherent to human nature. I will become who I am meant to be fearlessly.

From now on, I will express all of me all the time. So feel free to take me or leave me, but you definitely won’t get an apology.