By: Su Chen / Written: Jun 14, 2023 / For Letters Against Depression
Image: "Red Lillies" - Media From Wix
Dear fellow imperfect human,
If there’s one thing in common about us, it’s that we both apologize for who we are. And yes, I do it too.
We apologize to our families for not pursuing the career they wanted for us. To our friends, for not being “talkative” enough or “being a burden.” And to society, for our imperfections, our dreams, our beauty.
Perhaps we’ve had parents who made us feel inadequate and unlovable, who withheld affection when we came home with a bad report card or accidentally broke the family vase. Or we’ve internalized certain messages from society in our youth: that being different is wrong, that being sensitive is weak, that failing a class makes one “stupid,” that you have no business being in the real world if you can’t handle the “slight pain” of high school. Or we’ve been bullied, rejected, judged – experiences that gnaw at our internal sense of validation.
When you look at it from this perspective, it’s no wonder that we’re always apologizing. It’s no wonder we say “I’m sorry that I’m so (X/Y/Z),” “I’m sorry that I’m not good enough,” “I’m sorry that you don’t love me for who I am.” It’s no wonder that we often experience so much self-hate and internalized guilt.
Let me make this clear: there is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with you if you are self-apologetic. It does not make you weak, it does not make you insecure, it makes you human. I’m not writing this letter to judge you, not in the slightest.
I am writing this letter to let you know that you don’t have to apologize. You don’t have to subject yourself to such self-criticism. And it all starts by recognizing that you have nothing to apologize for.
Yes, you have nothing to apologize for. You don’t ever have to feel ashamed of your personhood: your flaws, your strengths, your mistakes, your passions, your dreams. We humans are messy, beautiful, and unique – akin to a jazz piano solo. And like jazz improvisations, we each live life by a different key, a different rhythm, a different creativity.
And your beautiful, badass self deserves to express yourself, express your own song unapologetically. You have every right to embrace your individuality, in lieu of apologizing for it.
Tomorrow, it is only my hope that you look at yourself in the mirror when you wake up. Look at your reflection straight in the eye and say: “You are powerful. I love you for all of you: your strengths, your mistakes, your virtues, your rough edges and quirks. And I won’t apologize to anyone for who you are.”
It’s the least that your beautiful, badass self deserves to hear.
May you live unapologetically,