They drive me freaking nuts.
I’m all for owning up to screw ups and making amends. Anyone who knows me will tell you that it requires just three basic things to gain my respect: kindness, responsibility, and honesty. That basically boils down to a few simple standards.
- Kindness: Don’t hurt anyone on purpose, and offer your gifts, whatever they may be, when you see need.
- Responsibility: Take both the credit and the blame for your life, and accept that barring extreme circumstances, you are who, what, and where you are because of the choices you’ve made thus far, and you are the only one with the power to change your direction.
- Honesty: Really, just don’t frickin’ lie. I might not call you out on it if you do, but it will change things. It may end us, but even if it doesn’t, I will never look at you the same way again. Lying is, to me, a really big deal.
Simple enough, right?
So why is it that ultra-apologizers get under my skin so badly? On the surface, they meet all of my basic standards for people I respect. The thing is, if you look closer, they actually don’t meet any of them.
Ultra-apologizers may not hurt anyone on purpose, but it seems to me that they don’t share their gifts, either. Instead, they bury themselves so deeply beneath coatings of matte unobtrusiveness that they all but disappear. Any fire in there? Passion? Anger? Anything?
Kindness as a sloppy topcoat isn’t admirable. It’s just whitewash.
It might seem that ultra-apologizers are über-responsible. After all, they own up to everything. You knock ‘em down, they say sorry. You leave ‘em sitting at a restaurant table in silence for twenty minutes while you take two phone calls, they’ll feel bad for keeping you from your really important life. That’s not being responsible—that’s being a doormat, and that’s just creepy and a little bit sad. Responsibility would require them to stand up for themselves—not necessarily in some grand show of independence, but as a simple acknowledgement that they are people and deserve a bit of respect.
Well, at least ultra-apologizers aren’t liars, right? That’s something.
Ultra-apologizers do the most dangerous kind of lying. They lie to themselves. They convince themselves, through sheer repetition of anti-affirmations that they matter less than everyone else. That they don’t mind taking a back seat, taking blame, taking one for the team. Sounds like bullsh*t to me, and even if you sprinkle it with a lovely dusting of powdered sugar, it’s still bullsh*t.
So, do me a favor. If you screw up, say you’re sorry. But don’t take the blame for me. I’ll step up when I need to.