It's so easy to fall into the trap of looking, acting, and speaking in a way that appeases those around us. We all want to be well-liked, so we are often willing to abandon our true selves if it means knowing we have the approval of others. I spent years doing this but still felt like I was coming up short. Finally, I had enough, dropped the act and stopped apologizing for who I really am. The result? The life I'd been going for all along. Here's what I stopped saying sorry for.
1. Having no chill.
In recent years it seems like being a chill girl is the ultimate goal. I mean, who wouldn't want someone who always goes with the flow, answers every question with a shrugged 'whatever,' never stresses and rocks sweats 24/7? Forget that. Sure, I love a lazy Sunday spent drinking a beer and watching football, but that only lasts so long. I also love making plans well in advance, having to-do lists, crafting elaborate grocery shopping spreadsheets and regularly checking on my long-term goals. The truth is I have way too many passions, interests, and dreams to be chill, so if you can't keep up then move on.
2. Being ambitious.
Gone are the days of going to college for a Master's degree and skating by in a career just waiting to stay home and be taken care of. It's the era of strong, independent women who can do it all, all by ourselves, or with someone — either way it's our choice. I don't have a ring on my finger or a houseful of kids, but I know what I'm working for and am proud of it. I strive tirelessly toward my career aspirations, grinding way beyond 9-to-5, and I have no intention of slowing down.
3. Rocking my imperfections.
The day I fully accepted the fact that I'll never look like the women in magazines, on TV or in movies was an incredible day. It felt like a weight had been lifted. I finally realized that I didn't need or want to look like those women (Hello, Photoshop!) because there was nothing wrong with me. My skin isn't flawless, my hair has split-ends, and my nails aren't perfectly manicured, but who cares? Call these things imperfections if you want, but they're what make me who I am. I'm unique and flawed, and that's precisely what makes me beautiful.
4. Refusing to smile all the time.
I've lost count of the number of times people have asked me what's wrong just because I didn't have a smile plastered on my face. There I was simply minding my own business and yet the act of not smiling all the time indicated that something must be wrong. For a while, I tried to have a more pleasant, agreeable expression around the clock, but that grew old quickly. Then it hit me — why do I always need to look happy or pleased or thrilled or excited? I don't. I'm a complex human with a whole range of emotions, and sometimes they don't warrant a smile. I'm not here to ensure my facial expressions are to anyone's liking but my own.
5. Being blunt.
If there is one thing I can't stand, it's being passive aggressive. As far as I'm concerned, if you have something to say, you should just say it. Beating around the bush for fear of offending others only means you aren't being true to yourself. Some of the best conversations I've ever had came from being unfiltered and brutally honest. Plus, the people who love and know me respect my blunt style because there's never any doubt where we stand. In fact, people often seek out my advice because they know I'm telling it like it is.
6. Saying no.
Sometimes saying yes seems like it's the easy way out because it keeps others happy. Someone asks you to watch their kids? Yes. Someone asks you to help them move? Yes. But where does it end? Suddenly the yeses take over your life and you lose sight of all the things you could be doing for yourself instead. Saying yes just to please others all the time is exhausting. Putting yourself and your needs first isn't selfish — it's healthy!
7. Being intimidating.
A friend once described me as being absolutely intimidating in every way. I was immediately shocked and offended. Maybe I needed to drop the sarcasm, quit swearing like a sailor, and soften my edges. I thought it would be better if I blended in and never came on too strong. Thankfully I came to my senses and realized I should be proud of having an in-your-face personality that makes an unforgettable first impression. The world doesn't need more women to fade into the background.
8. Having standards.
It wasn't until my mid-20s that I realized just how precious my time, energy, and emotions truly are. I wasted days, weeks, even years on men and friends who didn't deserve to be in my life for a single second. I eliminated toxic relationships from my life, refused to be a doormat and stopped being taken advantage of any longer. Now, if you're in my life, you've earned the right to be there.
9. Not being engaged.
I've been with my boyfriend for more than seven years. When people hear this, they're usually shocked that we're not engaged yet. Even people I've just met feel comfortable asking about — and judging — my relationship status. For years I felt ashamed and embarrassed, but the truth is that there's no ring or ceremony that proves anything about my, or anyone else's, relationship. I love my boyfriend and the life we've built together. The fact that we aren't engaged means nothing about our happiness, but honestly, that's not anyone's business anyway.
10. Being persistent.
I live and die by the idea that if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Whether it's a project at work, a newly acquired hobby, or a challenging question, there's no obstacle I'm afraid to tackle — no matter how long it takes. My persistence is tireless. Others may find my nonstop drive exhausting, but I find it empowering.