I am an apologist. I constantly apologize for everything, even things that aren’t my fault.
It’s a habit I picked up (I’m told) as a preteen and haven’t seemed to be capable of shaking since. And although I married a remarkably patient and caring man, my husband has little to no tolerance of this particular habit. Ironically, he also suffers from this apparently catching personality trait- I say catching because I don’t recall it being a problem for him prior to our relationship- so we have both agreed to help each other kick it to the curb. We are allowed to apologize but only for something that we actually did that was actually wrong. For example, if I took ten minutes in the bathroom instead of five, that does not constitute an apology even if it meant that Big Man had to keep our movie paused a little longer than expected. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten a little lax in our accountability as of late, and I have started apologizing like it’s going out of style. Enter: my dear friend K.
K and I have a lovely open and honest relationship in which we genuinely feel we can say anything to each other (which is something I cherish) without offense. So, one day while K and I were out walking with Scoob and Little Man, we were talking and I apologized for something totally inane. K looked at me funny and said not to worry about it, that I hadn’t done anything wrong. A few days later when we were out getting coffee it happened again. The third time she stopped me, sighed, put her hand on my arm, and said gently, “Honey, we won’t have time to crush the patriarchy if you keep apologizing for everything.”
We both laughed, but I knew that K was at least fifty percent serious so it stuck with me. Not because crushing the patriarchy is a hobby of mine (*she says wistfully*), but because of the truth behind her words. How much time was I wasting with meaningless apologies? And how much were these apologies detracting from genuine ones? Needless to say, it’s become something that I think about constantly. Also, the patriarchy…..
I consider myself a semi-conservative feminist.
Yes, I know, but hear me out: it’s a thing. And growing up in a predominantly conservative family, it’s often a source of eye-brow raising and quick subject changes. Does it stop me from openly talking about my personal and political beliefs? Not usually. But I am cautious about how and when to approach certain subjects because I know that there is a strong chance for a “discussion” to devolve into an argument. And honestly….I’m just. So. Tired. Arguing takes energy. Passion is draining. Yes, this is coming off as a tad whiny, but here’s the other thing: it’s true. Particularly for someone like me who is very introverted. Just being around people tends to zap my energy. Defending my feminist ideals to ultra conservatives who also happen to be related to me? UBER energy drain. Also, have I mentioned that I am the mother of a highly energetic and extremely time-consuming toddler? No? Well, hey, welcome to the blog!
Even before I had a kid, I was a nurturer and a perfectionist.
I always struggled with over-committing and stretching myself too thin. As a result I have also struggled constantly with low energy levels, which interrupt my productivity and make me feel disappointed in myself and guilty for being unable to help those around me. The reality is that perfection is unattainable, and constantly trying to solve every one else’s problems leaves little to no time for important things like introspection and self care. I will never forget the first time Big Man looked at me and told me that if I didn’t take care of myself first, I’d never have the energy to take care of everything else. After having Little Man, prioritizing myself became simultaneously more difficult and more of a necessity. It took a long time to get to the point where I could brush aside the guilt I felt about taking a nap instead of doing the laundry, but it became easier once I realized that nap stood between me and the brink of total exhaustion. That nap allowed me to have the physical and mental energy to think beyond what to feed Little Man for lunch and spend time becoming aware of what was happening in the outside world. (Really though, naps. Naps are life-changing.)
In all seriousness, I want to make a difference. I want to help build awareness of issues that I, as a feminist, care about. Awareness and subsequent action are important now more than ever. The political landscape of America and the world is changing rapidly, and I believe that we the people have the ability to influence these changes. Awareness and subsequent action are key to positively influencing change. I encourage you to check out sites like actionnetwork.org and everydayfeminism.com to stay up to date on current issues and things we can do to help.
But first, go take a nap. And don’t apologize, because I’m sure you earned it.