Like most people, I mess up a lot. I’ve hurt people. When I realize what I’ve done was hurtful, and when I wasn’t intentionally trying to hurt them (which, I will admit, I sometimes do, because sometimes people will be dicks to you and sometimes the only way to get them to back off is to try to hurt them), I apologize and try to set things right.
I’ve also spent a large part of my life apologizing for who I am. I wasn’t hurting anyone. I wasn’t messing up. I was just being who I am, but who I am is not always who people would like me to be. I wish I were tough, no-nonsense, thick-skinned, but I’m not, so when people have scolded me and teased me for being who I am, I’ve felt bad and I’ve apologized in one way or another.
In the past year, we’ve lost a number of people who refused to apologize for who they were. David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Pete Burns, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, and Carrie Fisher were all people who lived strong lives on their terms and didn’t back down because others didn’t like who they were. I know I’m not as strong-willed as they were, but I’m stubborn and I’m 100% tired of apologizing for who I am, for the way my brain works, for whatever parts of my personality people might think are “quirky” or “annoying.”
I’m not apologizing anymore for being emotional and sensitive, for crying easily (from sadness, from anger, from joy), for getting easily frustrated and upset and needing time to cool off. I’m not apologizing for needing time to deal with being overwhelmed by anxiety, depression, or emotions. I’m not apologizing for being talkative, for having a lot on my mind that I want to get out, and for filling silences with chatter because silences are uncomfortable to me. I’m not apologizing for needing to be around people, for needing interaction and conversation, but also needing alone time to process my thoughts and feelings. I’m not apologizing for having no sense of time and showing up early or late, but rarely on time. I’m not apologizing for having more ideas than I can follow through on, for not finishing everything I start. I’m not apologizing for changing my mind a lot because I can see multiple points of view, because circumstances change, and because I don’t often see things as absolutes. I’m not apologizing for quickly and easily developing crushes on people, for adoring lots of people, for expressing my love for people. I’m not apologizing for needing lots of hugs and other forms of physical contact. I’m not apologizing for being easily distracted, for spacing out, for getting lost in my own daydreams, for getting bored easily. I’m not apologizing for getting easily excited and enthusiastic, for talking loudly and with a lot of gesturing. I’m not apologizing for being nonlinear, for switching from one topic to another without finishing a sentence. I’m not apologizing for being shy and afraid to initiate conversations, or for being outgoing and starting conversations with strangers. I’m not apologizing for being insecure and needing affirmations and reassurances. I’m not apologizing for being irresponsible, for blowing things off because I’d rather read comics than stand in line at the DMV.
If you’re reading this and wondering why I would ever apologize for any or all of these things, well, these are all things people have asked–or demanded–I apologize for. These are things I’ve been teased about and chastised for. These are things I’ve had difficulty accepting about myself and I’m working hard on changing that. Because this is who I am and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m grateful for the people who accept and love me for it. And I have zero fucks for the people who don’t.