The Sorry Syndrome
Although it's hard for me to admit it, I am an offender of what I call, "The Sorry Syndrome." This syndrome is a wide-spread epidemic in which I found a majority of women including myself to be guilty of. I catch myself saying sorry in the most unnecessary of instances, "sorry to bother you," "sorry that happened to you," and "sorry I don't understand." Okay, so one word. Seems pretty easy to cut out of my vocabulary right? Well unfortunately, I have found a way to creep the word "just" into my apologetic form of speech as well. I would catch myself through email and when speaking to managers saying, "Just following up," "If I could just have a moment of your time," and the mother of all, "I was just wondering." So when did I start saying this in the first place and why am I so easily undermining my authority now?
Growing up I was a complete klutz. My nickname by my family was 'spiller' and 'Jessica Simpson' because I would spill everything and I acted like a blonde sometimes. And yet, most ironically I wanted to be tall, blonde, and Caucasian. I remember telling my mom while driving home from school that I wished I was "White" and when she asked me why, I told her that all the pretty and popular girls where. I am fourth generation Japanese (Yonsei), I don't speak Japanese, I don't use my chopsticks correctly, and I am horrible at math. Needless to say, I felt stuck in the middle - not Japanese and not Caucasian. I felt so unsure of myself like many adolescent teenage girls do, that I believe my uncertainty planted the seed for my constant need apologize. Whether that be for my actions, thoughts, opinions, and even things completely out of my control.
Even when I am not apologizing out loud I tend to dig myself into a hole of self-pity and harsh criticism. It wasn't until I took part in Yoga Teacher Training 2 1/2 years ago, that I realized how bad it was. I was so used to apologizing that I would say sorry to messing up or not knowing the right answer. I would even say sorry for being sorry. As ridiculous as it may sound, it was really hard for me to break that habit when leading a yoga class. But with practice and a new-found confidence in myself as a leader, I have eliminated "sorry" and any form of apologetic word from my teaching vocabulary. When I make a mistake I own it and in fact love it, because it reminds me that I am human and it is okay to make mistakes and not know everything. Instead of "sorry" when I teach I say, "just kidding," "rather," or just laugh altogether. Teaching yoga is my form of practice to find confidence in my own skin, to laugh, to make mistakes, and to stop apologizing for being me.
Being a teacher has taught me to be a student of loving who I am and who I want to be. Just as is yoga, practice makes practice. I may never completely get rid of my "sorry" vocabulary and maybe you may not either, but if we remember to stay authentic to who we are we will never be sorry for that.
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Hi, I'm Lauren and I am here to support people to find freedom in being authentic and the power to carry that out in their lives and community. Writing is one way I like to explore that for myself. Here is my archive of reflections.