I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I’m kind of a fraud. No, really. The evidence is on the screen in front of you.
My blog’s header reads: “Live, travel, adventure, bless and don’t be sorry,” signaling how hip and uninhibited I am. (Did it work?) The quote is one of many I like to claim as a personal mantra, and no one calls my bluff.
In reality, I’m almost always sorry. Sorry I can’t write faster. Sorry my voice is so loud. Sorry there are always a few crumbs of food clinging to my laptop.
i’m pretty inhibited, as personalities go.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my guilty conscience today, because it’s Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday focused on forgiveness. Members of the Jewish community prepared for today’s celebrations by calling friends and family members to apologize for the wrongs they committed in the past year and making plans to be a better person in the year ahead, as I wrote recently.
What strikes me about this holiday is that it acknowledges the impossibility of being perfect. It says, “Stop wringing your hands about doing something wrong. Own up to your actions. Then move forward.”
It’s a compelling message, especially for me, a person regularly frozen by the fear of failing.
Over the last week, I’ve been struggling with asserting myself in both my personal and professional lives. I’ve uttered a number of strange apologies: I’m sorry I didn’t say something sooner. I’m sorry if this upsets you. I’m sorry if what I’m saying isn’t making sense.
I’ve been losing track of myself, failing to choose a path forward.
And so today I started thinking about that Kerouac quote, and about how hard it is for me to take his advice.
I’ve heard this phenomenon described as “the curse of the good girl,” because young women often tie themselves in knots trying to please others. Recognizing how good I am at feeling guilty, I go crazy trying not to rock the boat.
I’ve always loved that scene at the end of “Grease,” when Sandy blows Danny’s mind with her tight leather pants and red lipstick. “You better shape up,” she sings, knowing exactly what she wants and asking for it (him) on her own terms.
I’ve always wanted to be fierce like that. To unapologetically express my goals and desires (don’t worry, I won’t sing them) and be brave enough to face uncertain reactions.
I’m striving to untie the knots and take care of myself. Trying to trade “I’m sorry to ask this, but…” for “Here’s what I’m thinking. How about you?”