Perhaps one of the simplest phrases in the human vocabulary. But certainly not one that people enjoy saying.
Mostly because it signifies that we’re wrong. And while there’s nothing wrong in ‘being wrong’, the very concept of it makes for a rather unwelcome connotation or implication. That somehow we’re bad. Or we did a bad thing. That we were ‘in the wrong’.
And in those case, as that song goes, ’Sorry seems to be the hardest word.’
But not for me. And perhaps, others like me.
Have you ever apologised for apologising excessively?
Welcome to the club of serial apologists. We're sorry. That's pretty much our slogan.
A rather quirky phrase, don’t you think? Serial apologist. You hear the phrase ’serial’ and our modern mind almost immediately conjures up this vision of something that goes on and on (if you’re familiar with Indian television!). Or the more macabre version of a ‘repeat offender’ of something. Both very valid illustrations, I suppose.
But yes, I am a repeat offender when it comes to apologies. Because I say sorry a lot.
'So what?’, I hear you ask. ‘So, what if you apologise frequently? It’s a welcome change from the arses who refuse to.’, said another friend when I talked to her about this syndrome of mine.
Ah - how I wish it was that simple! Because, if you ask me, us serial apologists are probably as annoying as the ones who refuse to. And the reason is plain and simple - we apologise so much that our sorry’s no longer hold much value. It’s a classic case of ’the boy who cried wolf.’
To be honest, until recently - I didn’t think much of it.
So off I went through life, apologising for everything and anything. For talking too much. For writing too much. For asking a friend to help. For reaching out to people. For laughing out loud. For offering a comment, even when I was asked too. I even apologise when someone bumps into me on the train.
‘You’re a pushover, Sid.’ said a friend of mine once. I simply nodded and said, ‘Sorry!’
Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not. (Maybe it’s Maybelline! - okay, totally unrelated point, but hey, blame that jingle!). If I remember, I think I may have even apologised once to someone for ‘merely existing’. That’s deeply disturbing - even for me.
While I don’t know exactly when it started, I’m quite certain that I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. Perhaps it’s a curious case of upbringing. My mother, while fiercely strong and often stands her ground, can be quite the apologist at times. On the other hand, maybe it’s just a trait. Or perhaps some repressed anxiety issues. But deep down, and it’s sort of cathartic to acknowledge it out loud - is it simply because I’m trying too hard to be liked? I don’t always think it’s on purpose - but I have to acknowledge that it’s there.
I’m sure as heck not going to wake up one day, and say, ‘ Today’s the day. Today is when I stop apologising’. But I have to try. I need to stop being so free-flowing as salt with my apologies. Because, it often becomes more a instinctive reaction rather than a significant one.
To amend the words of the ‘great’ (yes, I’m chuckling too!) current President of the USA - I have to MSMA. Make Sorry Meaningful Again.
It’s certainly going to be a work in progress. So, the next time if you feel I’m apologising too much - let me know. Whack me over the head with a book (not a hard cover one please?) if you must. Ask me if I really need to be apologising. And I’ll ask myself too.
Some day, I’ll be less of a serial apologist. Until then, when I feel like apologising, I guess I best stick to that infamous song from Notting Hill - ‘You say it best, when you say nothing at all.'
Certainly beats an instinctive sorry.