The Day I Stopped Apologizing For Being Me

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I thought if I heard the term angry black woman again, I just might try to live up to its negative connotation. Then I began to not look at the term, but instead the people who were using it. I am not afraid to tell people when something is bothering me. While I consider myself genuinely caring, I am not one to sugarcoat nonsense and I can politely tell someone when I feel that I am not being treated with respect; but does that make me angry? Bossy? I don’t think so. I think it says more about other people’s insecurities than my no-nonsense attitude. And just recently, I stopped apologizing for what makes others feel uncomfortable. I stopped saying sorry for being me.

I am in no way trying to pretend that I am never wrong or don’t have any flaws. In fact, I have too many to even begin to name; but the things that make me unique, if they don’t hurt anyone and if I feel passionately about them, why should I seek to change or apologize for them simply because it makes someone feel uneasy?

For years, especially in corporate America and in relationships, I walked on eggshells so that I wouldn’t be classified as the stereotypical angry black woman. I monitored what I would say, although I usually failed miserably. I was careful not to offend anyone even if I felt offended. I hesitated to stand up for myself and usually dimmed my light so that others could shine brighter. I was afraid to be me for fear of what others would say.

And many other black women that I’ve spoken with shared the same sentiments. When we raise our voices we’re combative. If we express dislike, we’re too hard to please; and to some, when we have standards, we’re considered too picky. I won’t continue with the “it’s hard to be a black woman” rant, but you get the drill.  I was trying so hard to not offend anyone that I was downplaying who I really was.

Then one day I decided to stop apologizing. Actually it was more like one year. It took a while to become comfortable in my own skin and stop making excuses for my shortcomings and downplaying my positive attributes; but now I don’t. I make no apologies for being me.

If someone considers me angry…well, sometimes I am; but that is only one of the emotions I feel. It doesn’t define me or certainly doesn’t mean I’m bitter. While I am conscious of my attitude and behavior, because that’s a part of maturity, I am also learning each day to be less unapologetic of who I am.

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