I have a habit. A really bad one. I keep telling people I'm sorry. Bump into me on the street, take my chair or the last sandwich from the shelf and I will apologise to you. Why?
Is it my English up bringing? In Holland you do not find people saying I'm sorry, they'll bump into you and stare you down like it was your fault and muscle you out of the way to get on the tram without a second glance. In fact my brother-in-law has always found my apologising hilarious and on more than one occasion has asked; What is it with you english and all this I'm sorry business? It seems that saying I'm sorry has become intrinsically linked to the British view of politeness.
From now on I'm going to take a leaf out of my Dutch sisters book and stop apologising for:
1. Being successful: I find myself apologising for asking people to do something at work or for getting that promotion. You don't ever need to apologise for doing your job or asking others to do theirs.
2. Not looking my best/looking great: I don't need to look like I'm going to a wine bar to pick up the kids from school, but similarly I can say thank you when someone compliments my clothes and not say something like, oh I've had this for ages, it's old!
3. Accidentally touching someone: I do not have a contagious disease it is OK if I accidentally brush against someone, really.
4. Having feelings: hello, I am human, not a robot.
5. Reminding someone about something they forgot: Er hello, remember that email I'm still waiting, where is it and come to think of it don't you owe me a fiver. I need to stop worrying about upsetting people and just ask. They should have remembered, it isn't my fault!
6. Feeling passionately about something: I love it when people speak passionately about things. Why shouldn't I? I don't need to apologize for having an opinion. If people don't like it then don't listen or say so.
7. The way my home looks: someone calls in unexpectedly and I immediately start cleaning up and apologising for the mess. My friends come to see me, not my house.
8. Being ill: see point 4
9. Needing time for myself: I must stop apologising for putting my needs first and realise that taking time out benefits everyone as I am happier and more relaxed.
10. Being annoyed: I also must admit to using sorry when someone has said something particularly stupid or done something annoying. Em, sorry, what did you say? Yes, sorry can be used in an assertive almost accusing way. But I need to stop being so passive agressive and just state what I think.
Looking at this list, a lot of my issues can be traced back to my perfectionist nature and my British culture that links confidence with rudeness or arrogance but I am going to make a concerted effort to change my ways. Instead I am going to embrace my imperfections and learn when to tell it straight and when to say nothing at all. I do not want to come across as submissive. I want to push away that anxiety to let go of my Britishness and be more confident. Like these brilliant women in the second half of this Pantene commercial. I will shine and be strong.