About a month ago, a colleague left me a voicemail to ask if I’d like to do some writing for a publication.
I had every intention of calling him back, but then got busy and honestly completely forgot to.
I remembered several weeks later, and sent him an email. In it, I apologized for not getting back to him sooner. As I went to press send, I noticed this part of me that wanted to add another apology to the end.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I was out to dinner with some friends. One of them had her order cooked incorrectly. I heard her say to the waitress, ” I’m so sorry. I don’t want to be a pain. I’d like to send this back”
Fast forward another few days, and I observe two women apologizing profusely for accidentally bumping into each other in the aisle of Target.
So, umm yea. You may be wondering why I’m telling you these random stories about my life.
Here’s why: WOMEN! WE HAVE A RIGHT TO TAKE UP SPACE!!!!!
I don’t know if men struggle with this particular flavor of self- diminishment or not. In fact, if you are a man reading this, I’d love to know in the comments if you do.
But what I know for sure is that women do. I see it all the time and I have certainly experienced it myself.
We have this way of saying we are sorry for every tiny little thing.
It’s not that an apology is never appropriate. It’s just that we can offer it with the energy of being sorry we exist.
Or sorry we have needs.
Or sorry we are human and make mistakes.
Or sorry we have big feelings that require expression.
Or sorry we changed our minds.
Or sorry we are an inconvenience, a disappointment, or too much or not enough.
Or that we want to be cared for and tended to.
Or that we need help.
And I swear every time we do this a part of our soul dies.
Can we stop? Please. Or if not, can we at least bring our awareness and our intention to the fact that we are doing it?
It may not change the words that actually come our of our mouths, but it will start to shift the relationship we have with ourselves.
Maybe with attention, we can notice that we said we were sorry for wanting out dinner cooked correctly, and offer ourselves a silent prayer of forgiveness and amends.
Maybe instead of saying “I’m sorry” if we bump into someone we can say “Excuse me”instead.
Maybe if we want to add another apology when we have already offered one, we can gently remind ourselves that we are human and it’s ok to make mistakes.
Maybe it’s that we stand up taller and breathe more fully while we are waiting in line at the bank.
Maybe we take up as much space as is humanly possible in the shower or on our yoga mats in shavasana.
Maybe we start making a list of all the ways we have negated ourselves and vow to start showing up differently in whatever small way we can for ourselves and for women everywhere who don’t know they have that choice.
I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that it’s important to start asking the questions. If we don’t, we will continue to get smaller and smaller until we become invisible.
And frankly, a world with invisible women scares me.
So here’s my reminder to myself and all of you beautiful souls out there:
We are allowed to take up space.
We are allowed to be seen,
We are allowed to be first in line.
We are allowed to change our minds.
We are allowed to be looked after.
We are allowed to eat a dinner we enjoy.
We are allowed our own humanity.
We are allowed to receive.
We are allowed to matter.
What else would you add?