A girl bumped into me in a salad bar yesterday. Her eyes were glued to her phone the whole time. Because she was too caught up in sending a text, she mindlessly careened into me at full speed. When our bodies collided, she looked up, shocked. That’s when the reflex kicked in. “Sorry!” I cried out — even if it wasn’t my fault at all. Pacified by that, she reverted her attention to her phone and walked away.
Lena Dunham wrote:
Apologizing is a modern plague and I’d be willing to bet (though I have zero scientific research to back this up) that many women utter “I’m sorry” more on a given day than “Thank You” and “You’re Welcome” combined.
I’d like to think there is some truth to that. I mean, on some days I even catch myself accidentally/stupidly apologizing to inanimate objects. That’s how you know you’ve got it bad. That’s how you know an epidemic is severe.
I’ve been thinking about why I do this so much, why I am so quick to take on the weight of the blame, why it’s the almost-automatic response I fall back on even when I don’t have to. And I’m not sure but I think that I may have finally figured it out.
I grew up fat. Not just that, I grew up insecure and fat. This paved the way for a lifetime of apologies that I felt needed to be handed out to just about anyone who would take them. I believed that I should do my best not to take up too much space. I needed to accommodate. I needed to make room for others to shine. I needed to move aside so others could take their spot in the world. Who was I to think that I could adequately contribute to the narrative of humanity?
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
I am shy and quick to second-guess myself because of this. The voice in my head — constructed by society’s modern standards, enabled by my own youthful naivete — was always quick to denounce the possibility that I could, that I deserve to, belong.
All I can say now is screw that. Screw that stupid self-destructive idea that beckons you to sit in a corner and hide. Screw the voice that belittles you into obscurity. God was not sorry when he made you. You were not a clumsy untangling at the mercy of his divine fingers. Why should you have to cast an apology over your own existence?
Stop it, I tell myself. Stop.
There is room for you here. There is room for Isa Garcia to live and breathe and love and thrive in this tiny part of our vast universe.
I don’t always succeed but today, I believe that. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to say sorry for writing the last few paragraphs. But I won’t. I refuse to. Instead I will rise to the challenge of being who I am, fully and wholly. I will give myself the freedom to grow out of the apologies I taught myself to befriend.
When a girl bumps into me in a salad bar, I will not be the first to bend. I will wait and I will smile and I will walk away knowing I’m a little more healed from an epidemic whose cure has always been a larger sense of self-love.