I went on a night out a few nights ago. I only say this like it is a big deal because prior to this I had been confined to my laptop and the wall of books that are helping me slowly piece together my dissertation. Anyway I had decided if I didn’t leave and have a drink ASAP I might lose the social skills that I had once developed and forget how to act in social situations all together (not that I am that great at that now). So anyway, I was waiting at the bar to get a drink and a guy knocked me, he apologised and started talking to me about how it was his birthday and he had lost his friends. I took pity (perhaps foolishly) on this boy and then he sort of grabbed my nose- the way you do to children when you pretend to steal it. I was baffled and started to think of reasons why I could walk off. I mean I had been stuck inside for a while but I’m not about to go round grabbing people’s faces. “You would be so pretty without those rings in your nose, you know? You have really ruined your face.” Now, looking back on it I can reel off numerous appropriate responses to a perfect stranger telling me I had ruined my face but for some reason my instant reaction was to say “I’m sorry.”
As soon as I the words came out of my mouth I was annoyed. Why had I apologised? Realistically, in that situation what had I done wrong? Made a decision of putting two hoops through my nose because you know, it’s my nose…We live in a culture where we are sorry for EVERYTHING. We’re sorry for the way we dress- is it too revealing? Is it too conservative? We are sorry for the way we act- am I too boring? Am I too wild? We are sorry for what we believe in and the things we do. We are essentially sorry for existing! Where has this shame come from? I’m not sorry for my piercings, I love them but I was embarrassed and my natural reaction to that was to apologise.
I have felt like I should be sorry about my sexuality- something so innate to my being. I have felt sorry for the way I have acted or the decisions I have made. But at the time, for me they seemed right. If this is the shame that one person is carrying around can you imagine if we all just stopped saying sorry and stood proud in who we are. There probably wouldn’t be reason to say sorry any more. I mean why would you apologize for just existing? That’s seems ridiculous. I am not sorry and you shouldn’t be either.