Don't Say You're Sorry. Just Own It.

7 years ago

Women are emotional beings. We feel a lot of things: passion, ambition, desire, desire to be desired. But I’ve noticed that more than anything, we just seem to feel guilty.

Guilty for being passionate. Guilty for being ambitious. Guilty for wanting more. Guilty for wanting to be wanted.

I used to feel guilty too.

Until I owned it.

In my early twenties, I made so many decisions based on guilt. I always wanted to have a reason to justify my actions. A million reasons, actually. I went into conversations like I was going into battle, armed with my explanations like they were nun chucks. I would start swinging as soon as I heard the first disapproving, “Really? Are you sure?” I was armed and dangerous, ready to justify what I was doing to my friends and to myself until I was just beating everyone in the face with it.

But finally, something clicked for me. I realized my only explanation was, “Because.”

And I owned it.

For me, owning it isn’t just about owning how you look. It’s about owning who you are, how you feel, what you've done, and what you do.

Once I started owning it, I didn’t feel guilty anymore. I felt satisfied, happy, and confident.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t face resistance. At first there were naysayers, many of whom I thought were my friends. The thing is, people often think when you’re telling them something, you’re telling them because you’re  seeking approval and advice. So they start telling you everything that’s wrong with your decision or listing all the ways you should handle the matter. And then you’re crushed because you realize something you felt super confident about isn’t OK with them.

But owning it is about making it clear that you aren’t asking people for permission; you’re telling them what you’re doing.

Once I realized this, “I’ve owned it” and “Sorry I’m not sorry” became my go-to phrases.

I’m going to leave the job everyone wants at a fashion magazine to pursue comedy and writing, my real passions. I’ve owned it.

I’m going to run a marathon even though I’m not a runner. Sorry I’m not sorry.

I’m going to move across the country for a guy I just met. I’ve owned it.

And if people pushed it, I’d just say, “I’m over it.” What I meant was, “I’m over this conversation because my life choices aren’t up for discussion.”

And just like that, people stopped pulling me into two-hour “Really?” and  “Are you sure?” and “I’m just worried…” conversations.

Once I realized that owning it had made such a difference in my life, I had to share the message on my blog, The Life & Lessons of Rachel Wilkerson. I told my readers everything I’ve just told you and started doing posts about all the things I own. I own that I care about being healthy but sometimes think it's a huge hassle. I own that I’m one of the only people I know who doesn’t like watching sports. And I've owned that some of the things women’s magazines suggest I do in bed lead to results so disastrous, I’ve just quit trying -- sorry I’m not sorry.

Once I started writing about owning it, I was amazed by the response I got. It was like the dam of guilt that every woman uses to hold back her true feelings suddenly broke and I got countless comments, tweets, and  e-mails from readers thanking me for reminding them that they didn’t need permission to be who they are. As they told me about the decisions they wanted to own, I could feel their passion and confidence and I could tell how cathartic it was for them to own it.

And then I realized that they didn’t need to just tell me what they wanted to own. They needed to tell the world! I knew everyone could benefit from seeing more owning it going on -- whatever “it” might be. So I posted a question on my blog: What do you seriously and officially own?

I told my readers to let it out on their blogs, their social networking sites, or via e-mail, and let it out they did.  Nearly 100 blog posts went up answering my question. Women owned everything from grad school to wedding color schemes to being vegetarian to taking a long vacation. They owned the little things (their favorite  desserts) and the big things (their struggles with anxiety or depression). And even though they differed on what they owned -- or sometimes owned  things that directly opposed what others were owning -- there was an  incredible showing of support and enthusiasm for each and every owning it post.

Owning it has to continue. This movement has to spread. How are we going to ever be satisfied if we apologize whenever we make an attempt to not settle? If we apologize when we didn't do anything wrong? I mean, we apologize when someone bumps into us. We apologize when the dog bumps into us, for crying out loud! We apologize for our good luck and we apologize for our deepest desires. And I’m over it.

I’ve owned who I am, what I’ve done, what I do, and what I want. And owning it has made my life awesome. Sorry I’m not sorry.

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