One of the latest twitter memes is to enter into a textbox “I am a [astrological sign] and that’s why [insert predictive text].” I decided to join in the fun with “I am a Virgo and that’s why I am so sorry.” Popular astrology is so funny because it allows us to get us to interact with fun little parts of our identity and our greater cosmic existence.
However, I was very intrigued by the fact that I am so predictable in apologizing, I apologize a lot. I have long been told I apologize excessively so, and on this recent prediction of my apologies, I wrote down all the things I apologize for on a regular basis. The list ended up being longer than I had anticipated, and it forced me to reconcile with the fact that I apologize a lot, and unnecessarily.
Feminist literature and essays have inspired me to continue to present myself in the best way possible. Roxane Gay is a feminist figure to whom I look up for the ways she has loved herself and her feminism. Gay has brought a positive, honest, and real conversation about everyday feminism and feminist pracitces. In her book Bad Feminist Gay talks about the ways in which her feminism may not be perfect, but it is still hers and she will not apologize for it.
Allowing other people to feel comfortable around me and my imperfections by making myself small, and to not take up space. I grew up surrounded by strong women, unapologetically themselves, whose actions taught me to make space and words for myself. I would not expect myself to be the kind of person to shrink myself for the comfort of others, based on my upbringing.
Happiness and perfection are intertwined, Gay states “Perfection often lacks texture. What do we say about the smooth surface of idyll? How do find something to hold on to? Or, perhaps, we fail to see how happiness can have texture and complexity so we write about unhappiness” (Smooth Surface of Idyll, Roxane Gay). How do imperfections inform the parts of our identity to which we can grasp onto, with a strong grip.
The ways feminism have influenced me to be comfortable with myself, my ambition, and my passions should have counteracted any socialization I have ingrained in my brain about shrinking myself. We are to grip ourselves, imperfections and all, to place ourselves onto the grooves of the mistakes. It is similar to climbing rock, in order to make it to the top (happiness), we must first climb along the imperfections of the rock (our own flaws).
How can one person expect to be perfect in all aspects of their lives? They cannot. If anyone came to me and asked me that question I would discourage them from attempting to reach perfection. To be perfect, especially to be a perfect woman, is to give yourself over to the power of others.
Feminism as a practice has never been perfect, there are many ways in which feminism and the mainstream practice of, has not cared about every person or their experiences. However, upon reflection, and realizing the imprections, the main practice of feminism, attempts to be better.
Although feminism has not always been perfect, it has had a positive impact on women’s lives. Gay states, “Feminism is flawed, but it offers, at its best, a way to navigate this shifting cultural climate. Feminism has certainly helped me find my voice…In truth, feminism is flawed because it is a movement powered by people and people are inherently flawed” (Feminism (n.): Plural, Roxane Gay).
In apologizing for my actions, I am giving other people power over myself and my happiness by opening a door for disapproval. Criticism is essential for young people to grow and become better (not perfect) people, and allows us to recognize mistakes and correct them for the future. However, disapproval creates divisions and take one’s voice away from them.
Feminism has given me something to grasp onto, and use to influence my actions and goals so they may have a peaceful and positive impact, however, I am far from perfect. As a Virgo, and as a woman, I struggle with accepting that I am not perfect, however, it is something which I must absorb and wrap myself around.
Accepting my flaws and shortcomings as my entire, complex and clamorous existence is where I may begin to live my life, as best I can. “When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement” (Feminism (n.): Plural, Roxane Gay).
The real and holistic view of feminism does not mean there is never anything to be done about the ways in which we live and interact with others. Instead, it is a starting point. I cannot possibly expect to live my life apologizing for everything under the sun. Doing so would make me extremely unhappy, uncomfortable, and allow my actions to be absorbed by practices which are unfeminist, or with which I do not agree.
Feminist authors, such as Roxanne Gay, provide women a guide to honest conversations about feminist practice and the difficultly of self reflection.
Claiming my actions and body for myself, as they are and occur is the best way I can learn to be unapologetic. Feminism is so important, and why I try to share it with others (both men and women), the self reflection. Changing one’s ways is difficult and daunting, but essential for the future of feminism. Ensuring I learn from my mistakes and do not throw an “I’m sorry..” into the conversation, although they and I both know I have not crossed the boundaries of social norms.
Recently, a man I have been seeing told me I have a “hole in [my] lip”, meaning I frequently spill water all over myself, to which I apologized.
Knowing when my actions have crossed a line, such as sharing too much personal and heavy information with others without checking in on their mental state first, is in need of an apology. However, letting others know when they have done so to me, or if I accidentally spill water on myself, does not need an apology. Doing so eliminates my ability to remain my own person.
Several people in my life have asked me to stop apologizing so often (to which I respond with an “I’m sorry” for having made them feel uncomfortable for my apologizing) as they see me for my entire self and all my actions. From here on out: I will not apologize for spilled water, my feminism, or my existence. I will demand to be seen, to be heard, to be understood, and to let other women know their ability to do so as well.