If you were to ask me for an educated guess on the number of times I said a mindless “I’m sorry” in 2015, you’d better have a scientific calculator and some time to kill.
I lost track somewhere around 3 am on New Year’s Day. (Although odds are, most of those were justified.)
Apologies are like burps for me.
Unless you block my nostrils and cover my mouth, they will fly out with reckless abandon.
“I’m sorry,” I mutter as I dig around for $0.86 in my wallet, trying to avoid breaking a $10 bill for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
My palms are sweating, my hands are shaking and pennies are flying everywhere.
I eventually succumb to handing over the $10, as to not inconvenience the convenience store clerk any longer.
“I’m sorry, this pitcher’s out of whole milk. Would you mind refilling it?” I ask the Starbucks barista timidly, like I’ve been hanging out at the self-service counter and guzzling it dry all day.
“Excuse me, I’m sorry,” I squeak, trying to dislodge myself from the woman who is using the side of my body to prop up her newspaper.
I'm sorry I wasn’t able to morph into a better coffee table for her morning commute.
Apologies are the “umm” of our generation.
They are half-thought out space-fillers in conversations we don’t feel like having.
Whether they’re genuine and justified, an attempt to avoid conflict or an easy way to wrap up a social interaction, I’m sure we’ve all apologized a lot over the past year.
Well, it’s time to put your foot down.
We shouldn’t feel pressured to rush, settle or step aside for people who can’t look up from their smartphones.
There will be no more cramming ourselves into the metaphorical or physical spaces other people have created for us.
Hell, if guzzling whole milk from a pitcher gets us going in the morning, let’s not apologize for that either.
In any case, here’s a list of 16 things 30-somethings should definitely stop apologizing for in 2016:
1. RSVPing “No”
You shouldn’t have to justify not attending things.
We all have a lot on our plates.
If you find yourself panicked about driving two hours to a baby shower on your only day off, stay home.
Send a check, go back to bed or take care of your own baby.
I’ve spent years running myself ragged over events that suck time out of my weekend and money out of my wallet.
Then, it finally dawned on me: Nobody who matters is keeping score.
It might sound harsh, but if we all stopped holding each other to so many obligations, maybe we’d actually have time to connect.
2. Your Wardrobe
Your adolescence, teenage years and those scantily-clad days of college are spent dressing to impress everyone but yourself.
As you get older, wear what makes you comfortable.
Dress for your body. Dress for the occasion.
If you need bikini briefs that come up past your belly button to feel good on vacation, strap those bloomers on and never look back.
I like to wear jeans, TOMS and solid-colored shirts every day of my life.
Guess what? I’m a happy little hipster.
3. Your Face
One of my favorite lines on this topic comes from Annette Bening in the movie “The Women.”
A department store salesman tries to sell her a "facelift in a bottle."
She looks him squarely in the eye and replies, “This is my face. Deal with it.”
It seems everyone is peddling some product that promises to shrink your pores, get rid of your wrinkles, cure your acne, lengthen your lashes or vaporize your crow's feet.
You shouldn’t apologize for buying right into it (cough) or shutting it down.
If you want to make your own face cream out of avocados and egg whites, I think you're wasting a perfectly good frittata.
But let me know if it works.
If you’d rather spent $99 on 1 ounce of infomercial eye cream, write me.
I can provide you with the details.
4. Your Social Media Presence
Whether you post 20 times a day or have fallen completely off the radar, there’s no right or wrong way to do this stuff.
If you’re paying that much attention to what others are doing on the Internet, you’re clearly sitting on the Internet too much yourself.
5. Not Being In The Same Mental Space As Your Friends
It’s tough, but we grow apart.
If there’s a shrinking list of things you have in common with even the oldest of your friends, it’s nothing to beat yourself up over.
Some might just be in very different places in their lives.
Your 30s are a transitional time for everyone involved.
People are carving out the lives they see for themselves, and we’re all walking around as different sculptors.
Some of us are a little more Donatello, while some are more Michelangelo.
The good stuff always bubbles back to the surface with a true friend, even if you’re not currently jiving the way you used to.
6. Your Living Quarters
Owning property should no longer be the criteria by which we measure our success.
You shouldn't have to go into debt to keep up.
If you’re still living with a roommate, sibling, futon or even on a couch, then who cares?
A living arrangement doesn’t have to be permanent or pristine.
If you boomeranged back to your parents after a painful breakup, so be it.
It’s okay to admit you’re unsure of your next step, and you’re not going to bank on things until you are.
7. The Fact You Like To Go Dancing
This is more of a metaphor than anything else. (Although, I do love shaking my tail feather from time to time.)
You shouldn’t apologize for wanting to dance out your demons.
Whether it’s in your living room, at a Zumba class, on a bar or in a ballroom, twirl, baby.
8. Your Relationship Status
There’s something to be said for the parallel between RSVPing "no" and your relationship status.
But maybe, you’re just over some crazy uncle asking why your boyfriend from six years ago isn’t there.
Single, separated, divorced, scorned, cheating, happy, hopeful, gay or straight, you don’t owe Uncle Frank an explanation.
9. Your Diet And Fitness Regimen (Or Lack Thereof)
While I always prefer an unruly pile of nachos to a kale salad or protein shake, you gotta do what you gotta do.
This is another thing people seem to like to peddle.
Whether you’re training for triathlons, juicing the contents of your kitchen or building Cheeto forts in your living room, it’s your body.
Nobody has to occupy it but you.
Just try not to be too righteous about it.
I’m not going to apologize for eating a cheeseburger any more than a staunch vegetarian might apologize for posting pictures of flax seeds all day.
10. How You Derive Your Income
Money makes the world go round.
Whether you have a career you’re passionate about, one you’re lukewarm about or three part-time jobs strung together, it’s nobody’s business how you pay your bills.
11. The Fact You're Turning Into Your Parents
This has been an interesting one to watch unfold.
Try as you might, it’s going to happen.
There’s no use apologizing for it because you never stood a chance.
All those things you rolled your eyes at from the back seat of the Dodge station wagon?
They’re flying right out of your mouth now.
I like to yell, “I’m not made of money!” at my cat when we're on our way home from the vet.
12. Being A Slug
If the pizza delivery guy would come directly to my bedroom window, I’d let my bathrobe belt down for him like Rapunzel let down her hair.
Bed pizza is a real and glorious thing.
Don’t apologize for being a gross, lazy bum sometimes.
The only way to shine brightly in public is by wasting away in your own slothfulness behind closed doors.
13. Your Travel Style
Some people fly first class and stay in five-star hotels.
Others couch surf, hostel hop or carry their accommodations on their backs.
Seeing the world is admirable, no matter how you make it happen.
You know Jay and Bey aren’t apologizing for yachting around the French Riviera, so why should I apologize for getting bedbugs in Belize?
14. Your Voice
One of the most common things I apologize for is talking too loudly.
Others say sorry for not being heard.
Some people stutter and others have lisps.
There are the raspy voices and the distinctly high-pitched voices.
You can control your voice to a certain degree, but why bother?
Speak up, whisper, scream, sigh, laugh, sing, squeal and clear your throat.
Just don’t whistle. Nobody likes a whistler.
Definitely don’t shush anyone; a shush is a personal attack.
15. Your Opinion
Granted, there is a time and a place, but how will anyone know how you feel if you don’t speak up?
It's worse if you apologize for doing so.
If done correctly and not for the sake of idle gossip, giving your opinion can turn you into an opinion leader.
That’s a pretty good seat to be in.
If you opine in a consistently constructive manner, people will start to look to you for wisdom.
That’s a great way to positively shape the lives of others.
16. Your Truth
Whatever it is and however you find it, don’t apologize for it once you do.
Don’t apologize for how long it takes you, either.
If you’ve been burying your truth in a lie you’re finally free from, welcome back.
Step right in. The water’s warm.
It’s taken a lot of apologies, conformities and f*ckups to get us to this third decade of our existence.
So, let’s take what we’ve learned and bask in that glorious wisdom of the ages.
We sort of earned it.
Grab your chisel (or your pepperoni pizza) and start carving out what works for you.
Stop apologizing for the pebbles that get left behind.