There are some phrases we use so often they almost start to lose their meaning. “I”m sorry” is rapidly becoming one of them. “I”m sorry, do you have a minute to look at this?” “I’m so sorry, could I squeeze by you?” You can pretty much insert an “I’m sorry” after any request, as evidenced by this Pantene commercial. Watch it, and I expect you’ll relate to how much this phrase is overused in everyday life.
I think some of us overuse “I’m sorry” because it’s become a defacto phrase to put in front of anything we say to make sure it’s not going to offend, disturb, or inconvenience anyone. The problem is that in my experience, this phrase isn’t overused by everyone, it’s overused by women. I think “I’m sorry” gets said out of a desire to be polite, but when women are the only ones using it, the phrase becomes an apology for our gender having wants and needs. We shouldn’t be sorry for asking questions or needing a minute of someone’s time. It’s time for “I’m sorry” to have some meaning again, so let’s stop using this phrase unless we’re actually apologizing for actually having done something wrong.
Kudos to Pantene for bringing up this issue. I’ll admit that at first I thought it was weird that women’s empowerment was being used to sell haircare products, but then I realized that what I actually wish was that women’s empowerment was being used to sell more products. It’s great to see a commercial for a beauty product that doesn’t place emphasis on looking a certain way, and is instead about being strong and unapologetically going about your life. Let’s hope more advertisers follow this trend.
Most importantly, let’s stop apologizing for things we’re not sorry for! If you’re saying a sentence that isn’t an apology or an offering of condolences, then don’t start it with “I’m sorry”! This might be easier said than done, as I think for many of us, saying “I’m sorry” is so ingrained we don’t even notice we’re doing it. If you have to, make a pact with your friends to start calling each other out every time you overuse “sorry.” Above all, go out and live like you’re not sorry. Don’t apologize for existing, for taking up space and having something to say. I know Pantene was talking about hair when they said this, but it’s true for life, too: be strong and shine.