Allie shares a letter to her daughter about the importance of growing into a confident, unapologetic woman.
There is an important life lesson I need to teach you, and the earlier you can understand and overcome this obstacle, the better.
Men are socially conditioned to be strong leaders. Women are conditioned to apologize.
I will be the first to admit, I apologize far too frequently and for things I shouldn’t, and now, it’s a full-blown habit I can’t seem to break.
When I’m complimented on a job well done at work, I immediately divert to talking about what went wrong with the project I could have done better. When someone tells me I look great after completing a challenging workout program, I talk about how “flabby” I was before.
I self-deprecate. I short-change my successes and pad them with humor or modesty. I’m writing to you now to say that I acknowledge this behavior within myself and that it’s NOT okay for you to repeat. You need to stop apologizing, especially for these very important reasons:
When you grow into the confident woman I intend to raise you to be, do not apologize for your confidence. Ever.
True confidence is not a gift, but a muscle you need to work on each and every day to keep it strong enough to fight the societal pressures and negative messages that will inevitably come your way.
Confidence comes from accepting your insecurities as a mindset and not letting them overtake your identity. Focus on your talents, your positive attributes, the things about yourself that make you proud, and you will go far.
Those heels that make you feel tall and powerful? Wear them. That workout program you’ve been hesitant to try? Go for it. That successful person at work you’ve been admiring? Introduce yourself. That presentation you’ve been working on for months? Rock it. NOTHING should stand in the way of your confidence, especially your own self-doubt.
I didn’t learn to truly love myself until I was in my mid-to-late twenties. It’s a process, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but if you can come to that realization of self-love earlier on in life, the happier and more carefree you will be.
When I chose to be a working mom, I found myself constantly apologizing for that choice. I felt the need to rationalize why I was going back to work full-time to make myself feel better (Read my article on returning to work after baby here!).
“We need the money,” “I would be leaving my company in a bad position trying to find another researcher,” “I don’t have a choice.”
Well, actually, I did have a choice, and it took me a while to realize I had made the right choice for myself and my family and to stop apologizing for it.
I chose to continue working because I love my job, and I’m proud of my professional accomplishments. I chose an income over staying at home because I didn’t want to go to bed every night worrying about whether or not we can afford the next shipment of diapers. I chose to work for my sanity and stability, because when I’m a happy, fulfilled woman, I am a better mother and wife.
You’re going to have to make some hard choices that change the course of your life and define who you are as a person, but you have to own those choices and be secure in the reasons why you made them.
The bottom line is, if your choices come from the heart and you’re staying true to yourself, then there’s nothing to apologize for.
This is an important one to remember. Your success is your own. It’s something you earned and should never apologize for.
If your success makes you greedy, judgemental or distant from the ones you love, then those behaviors definitely warrant an apology.
However, having ambition does not mean you stepped on anyone to get there. Having money does not mean you are greedy. Earning promotions, awards and pay raises does not make you a bad person.
Being a successful woman, especially a successful mother, can spark criticism. When our professional lives are thriving, our personal lives must be suffering, right?
Never compromise in these areas of your life. Never settle for either/or. You can have success in every corner of your life, if you work for it, and you do not have to answer to anyone’s judgmental or skeptical questions that come from a place of hurt or jealousy.
So, my darling daughter, I urge you to stop apologizing. Even the subtle ways of diverting to our shortcomings or weaknesses or using self-deprecating humor erodes the foundation of our confidence.
Apologies are powerful, and you should save them for the important circumstances. Apologize for being late. Apologize for offending someone. Apologize for being inconsiderate or arrogant, but by all means, never, ever make apologies for your confidence, your choices, and your successes.
Always and forever, your recovering apologetic mother.
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