What’s the last thing you apologized for? Chances are, it was something you did that was totally justifiable, like raising a question or delegating a task at work. So, why did you feel the need to ask for forgiveness?
It’s no secret that there’s a gender disparity when it comes to apologizing. In fact, studies show that women utter “I’m sorry” much more often than their male counterparts. In one Midol survey, 62% of menstruators under the age of 40 apologize for their period. It’s not totally clear why we’re wired this way, but one thing is certain: We need to stop apologizing. Period. That’s why we’ve partnered with Midol to officially cancel the phrase “I’m sorry” when used unnecessarily. Together, we’re on a mission to shift the toxic environment menstruators face daily, and encourage the repossession of their bodies and their apologies to make periods a sorry-free zone. It’s time to speak your truth, voice your opinions, and quit asking for forgiveness for life’s most natural and uncontrollable occurrences.
For inspiration and to start the movement in your own life, read on to hear eight women share the one thing they’ll never apologize for again.
1. Saying No
“I've spent most of my life feeling terrible about setting boundaries and saying no. For example, if I say I can't take on an additional responsibility at work, or I decline a social invitation because I'm sluggish and have period cramps and am just not feeling it, I convince myself I'm somehow in the wrong and need to apologize profusely for my decision. As I've gotten older, though, I've realized that this is just a formula for being taken advantage of. So I've been trying to do much better in this context. Saying no still makes me uncomfortable, but I force myself to sit with that feeling rather than compensate for it by apologizing. It's a process — but personal growth is always worth it.”
TIP: According to Midol Partner, Maja Jovanovic, Ph.D. and author of Hey Ladies, Stop Apologizing!, in work-specific situations, instead of saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that for you,” a better response may be: “My schedule is jammed, and I can’t take on anything new. What do you want me to take off my plate in order to do this for you?”
2. Asking For Help
“I’d like to stop prefacing my actual needs with apologies. For example, I’m making a concerted effort to not say, ‘Sorry to bother you,’ when I need something from a coworker or am following up on a request. Instead, I try to say something like, ‘I appreciate your follow up here!’”
3. Being “Too Emotional”
“I'm vowing to stop apologizing for being ‘too emotional,’ especially when I’m on my period. It happens like clockwork: When I have my period, I start to feel more emotionally charged, which usually ends up in me crying during the credits of my favorite historical fiction movie (it happens, OK?). I even cried the other day, because I was hungry and didn't know what to eat. It sounds so silly, but I quickly realized my hormones are all over the place, and I'm feeling what I'm feeling — and there's nothing wrong with that. I’m getting better at communicating to my partner why I may be feeling the way I am, but I'm also getting better at not apologizing for my body doing its thing and playing out with my emotions the way it does.”
Tip: Instead of saying, “I’m sorry for crying,” rephrase it with, “Thank you for letting me vent,” or, “Thank you for giving me space.”
4. Taking A Mental Health Break
“I’m no longer apologizing for doing literally anything for myself between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Just because I work remotely now, and these are technically work hours, I still need to eat, go to a doctor’s appointment, or step away from my desk for five minutes at times. I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a mental health break or tending to one of life’s many responsibilities — and I’m trying to remind myself of that.”
5. Feeling Frisky On My Period
“I don’t know who came up with the idea that women need to cease any and all sexual activities during their period, but I personally am not here for it. I’m no longer allowing myself or my partner to feel icky about period sex. It’s normal for hormones to go a little wild during your period, so why not take advantage of it if you’re feeling in the mood?!”
6. Setting Boundaries
“I’d like to stop apologizing when setting a boundary. Whether that’s not responding to emails after working hours, telling someone I’m not available to speak right now, or cancelling plans because I have bad cramps, I’m not going to invalidate a clear boundary by apologizing for it. Even though it can be uncomfortable, the whole point of setting boundaries is to protect your peace. I don’t need to apologize for how someone else is interpreting my boundary.”
7. Having Dietary Restrictions
“I have dietary restrictions, and sometimes I find myself apologizing to servers at restaurants if I need to make a substitution to a meal or telling friends who are hosting dinners that I feel bad about what I can and cannot eat. This is ridiculous. It’s basically like apologizing for existing! From now on, I’m refusing to say sorry for keeping myself healthy.”
8. Canceling Plans
“I'm so done with apologizing for cancelling plans when I'm on my period. In general, I'm lucky to never have strong physical symptoms, but I usually feel super fatigued and grumpy for the first day or two. If my body doesn't feel up for hanging out with friends or going out with my boyfriend, I just send a quick text, offer to reschedule, and let myself relax.”
TIP: “We know based on the research around habit formation that stopping a bad habit or starting a good habit takes time, patience, and practice,” according to Jovanovic in her research. Try to practice replacing over-apologizing with phrases like, “Thank you,” “Excuse me,” or with just silence. Take a breath to briefly reflect on whether you need to say sorry and what you are really saying sorry for.
Still fighting the urge to say, “I’m Sorry”?
Society may still use periods as the butt of a joke or as an insult to explain away emotional behavior, but Midol is here to remind you that your feelings (both physical and emotional) are valid, no matter what. We’re inviting menstruators everywhere to help further the Period Apology reform by joining the conversation. By creating more dialogue around this subject and listening to real stories, sharing personal journeys, and relaying resources, we can start a real shift in behavior.
Take the pledge to stop saying, “I’m sorry.” The sooner you quit asking for forgiveness, the sooner you can live your best life.
No hiding. No apologies. Period.
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