Several years ago, I trained for a triathlon. This involved me getting up at 5:30 AM two mornings a week to swim with other people who were also training.
The coach grouped us in lanes according to how fast we were. I started out in the slow lane, but pretty quickly progressed into the fast kids area.
But no matter how much I improved, there was always this one girl who was just a smidge faster than me.
Until she wasn’t.
One day, I realized I was nipping at her heels, and that having her ahead of me was actually slowing me down.
You know what? I got really scared.
Scared to be faster than her. Scared to let her know that I had bypassed her. Scared she would be mad at me if I shone brighter than she did. Scared to own my power and strength.
So for several days, I intentionally hung back at practice. She even asked me if I wanted to go ahead of her. I told her “Oh no” with a nervous laugh. I told her to go right ahead of me. And she did.
One morning, I got a burr up my butt and passed her at the turn on the wall. I mean, full out, on purpose blew past her and didn’t look back. I can still remember the smile I had on my face as she ate my bubbles.
The smile lasted until we both got back to the wall. I felt guilty for leaving her behind. For “showing off”. For taking up too much space. I had to fight the urge to apologize and beg her forgiveness.
You know what she said to me several days later? She thanked me for passing her because it made her work harder and dig deeper. She got faster and stronger because I was no longer willing to stay in my little box.
See, that’s the way it works. When you step up, you give other people permission to do the same. You let them know it’s a good thing to rise when you do it yourself.
So people, I am here to tell you: Stop apologizing for yourself.
Stop apologizing for how loud you laugh, or what you wear.
Stop apologizing for wanting what you want.
Stop apologizing for being smart, or having opinions.
Stop apologizing for wanting more and leaving other people behind who don’t.
Stop apologizing for being talented and creative.
Stop apologizing for the way your body looks, moves and feels.
Stop apologizing for being strong and brave. And scared, all at the same time.
Stop apologizing for your tears and your sensitivity and falling apart.
Stop apologizing for rising again, like a Phoenix from the ashes.
Stop apologizing for saying HELL NO to the things you don’t want in your life.
Stop apologizing for saying HELL YES to the things you do.
Stop apologizing for allowing only the most exquisite, nourishing, divine people into your space.
Cause you know what’s really happening when you say you’re sorry for all these things?
You’re apologizing for existing. For breathing. For occupying the energetic and physical space that is your birthright.
Not on my watch sister. Not on my watch. Fuck that.
Tapiwa Mugabe says it way better than me-
” All she wanted was to find a place to stretch her bones.
A place to lengthen her smiles and spread her hair.
A place where her legs could walk without cutting and bruising. A place unchained.
She was born out of ocean breath.
I reminded her “Stop pouring so much of yourself into hearts that have no room for themselves”.
Do not thin yourself. Be vast.
You do not bring the ocean to a river”
We are all the ocean. Let’s help each other remember by not forgetting ourselves.