“Vishal, you didn’t apologize to me.”
“For having spoken rudely to me two days ago.”
“When you got angry and insulted me when I said that you shouldn’t ride bikes because they’re not safe.”
“Well, I love riding. And you persisted despite me explaining how integral a part of my life it is.”
“That doesn’t allow you to be rude.” Her voice grew louder.t
“I wasn’t rude. I just told you that I wouldn’t stop riding and that you should back off.”
“So you won’t apologize?”
“THEN YOU DON’T DESERVE ME!” she cried.
This occurred in a mall. She violently pushed away her chair and walked away in a huff. I finished my burger, got up and walked quietly, mentally fist-bumping every man who gave me a look of admiration (feminists, please keep your judgement to yourselves).
Unfortunately she did not break up with me. But she refused to speak to me for three (peaceful) days. It’s the small moments of joy and happiness that we should appreciate.
Standing up for what you believe in was always considered a taboo. Mankind has evolved in leaps and bounds in technology or quality of life. But our limbic brain - our lizard brain - stays as apish as it was about 15 million years ago. If someone is offended by what we did or said, the status quo demands that we apologize. Why? Because the person was hurt. It doesn’t matter that the our sentiments were hurt before by him. This logic is messed up. But then, society is messed up anyway.
Apologies exact a toll on the offender, as this article states. When you apologize to someone, you hand the power over to them - the power to extend forgiveness and appear like ‘the bigger person’, or to deny the apology and make you feel like crap.
This does not mean that we should not apologize when we do something wrong (Aamir Khan, are you listening?). But apologies should not be trivial, or rendered often or lightly. Especially not when you meant what you said. Because when you apologize for something you meant, you silently tell the ‘victim’,
And that sucks.
“Your approval of me is more important than my personal feelings.”
You know this, right? Haven’t you found yourself in a situation where you thought, “I shouldn’t have to apologize.” Yet, may of us do it. Why? Because of social pressure, which induces a feeling of guilt. And trust me, as much as that feeling is real, it is irrelevant.
Here is what you should do to get rid of the feeling of guilt:
- Be comfortable in your skinThe main reason for this feeling of guilt stems from being unsure about ourselves. Fear and anxiety often dominate our thoughts during such periods. But we have to free ourselves from these insecurities, and take back the power of being secure in who we are - with our flaws and strengths. Read this article to know how to overcome self doubt and get comfortable with yourself (h/t to Kamini for sharing it).
- Choose your battles“Life is too short to spend it on warring. Fight only the most important ones and let go of the rest.” - C. Joybell C.Not all battles are worth fighting. in fact, most are not. And guess what. Fighting too many battles leaves your tank empty when you need the energy to stand up for yourself the most. Choose a battle which has serious, long-term implications. Let go if the consequences are little.You will encounter trolls and dismissive people. But remember: their picking on you does not reflect on your inadequacies, but on their own. Carry on with your work. But when they make a habit of it, you must throw back one punch. One punch which makes the world stand up and say to them - “Oh! You got ‘owned’!” And then, don't apologize for throwing the it.
- Don’t be a d**kShane Watson was batting with a cramp. Shikhar Dhawan was taunting him on the field, acting like he had a limp. Dhoni intervened. He was having none of this. He openly indicated to Dhawan, “Don’t be a d**k.”How many times have the Aussies sledged their opponents? Those instances are more than the number of stars in the sky. But does Dhoni use a thorn to draw a thorn? In fact, during his press conferences, Dhoni comes out with responses which put the media and opponents in their places without being apologetic. And it makes us go, “Oh! He ‘owned’ them!”Mount personal attacks on someone who pisses you off and you become easy pickings for your instigator. He can show the world that you called him a/n [insert expletive here] and gain sympathy. All this while he was the person who started it.Stay calm and go about your work. But when you must, respond to the situation, not the person. This emotional balance will help you keep critics at bay, maintain inner peace and command respect from those around you.
- What matters more?Does the person matter more, or what he said? If it’s the former, is he having a bad day? Is it a one-off instance or frequent?If it is one-off, can you find the reason behind it, or ignore it? And if it is frequent, do you want to stay connected with someone who behaves like a jerk all the time? I don’t need to elaborate, do I? You are smart enough to get the drift.
If you stand up for yourself, there will be consequences. People will call you arrogant, selfish, a jerk, rude, and many other adjectives. They will hate you. But this isn’t hatred. In reality, it’s jealousy - of your guts to speak your mind and stand up for what you believe in. After all, people often hate those whom they want to be like.
Nobody owes you anything, and you owe nothing to anyone. If someone tells you what to do and you don’t want to, follow Robert Downey Jr.’s advice.
Stop apologizing for what you think is right. Live your life with no regrets, like your mom will be proud to read about it if it appears on the right hand side of the front page of a newspaper. For all you know, some day it will.