Under 30? How to Stop Saying Sorry for the Little Things

I’m 32. It’s the perfect time to question everything that I am doing, thinking, eating, trying and spending my time on. It’s hard to describe, but something happens to you when you hit your 30’s and you look back on all the time that you wasted second guessing yourself. When you hit your 30’s, time is no longer measured by what you have ahead of you…

Time becomes your most valuable resource.

Consciously or not, it feels like every decision I make now needs to be in the direction of my goals and values because I can’t afford to waste my time by venturing down another rabbit hole. You know, the time-sucking rabbit holes of dead-end career choices, a doomed-from-the-beginning relationship or being friends with sunshine stealers. At 32, I find it difficult to be in the same room with people (I called them friends in my 20’s) that would rather see me fail than truly be happy for me.

When you’re in your 20’s, it’s almost a rite of passage to make all those mistakes — otherwise, you’d never know how good you have it in your 30’s. So let me be clear — I’m not here to tell you to behave and I’m not here to tell you to give the middle finger to people who aren’t on your level. You need to live your honest truth through it all and that means you need to get messy with your life in your 20’s to build on the foundation you’ve made for your 30’s.

However, there is one thing I wish I could go back and change about my 20’s — I wish I spent less time saying “sorry” for the little things. I’m referring to the weightless “sorry” statements below:

Sorry I didn’t come to that event, I had something important come up.”

“Sorry I dropped the ball on that favour you asked me to do, it slipped my mind.”

“Sorry I haven’t called, I have been super busy.”

“Sorry I got a little wild last night, I was having too much fun.”

“Sorry I didn’t stick up for you in that argument just because I am your best friend.”

Any of those sound familiar? You see, I realized when I was saying sorry in my 20’s to people for things I did or did not do — it was my mind and soul doing the actions, and my words and mouth had to justify or compensate later.

My mind was constantly fighting with my speech to correct course and ensure I was the “best version of myself” by pleasing everyone I could. One thing is for sure: if you are spending all of your time pleasing other people, you’ll have nothing left for yourself. So what do you do when you want to win friends, but still live your truth? If you feel like you’re not living up to someone else’s expectations…

Don’t be sorry — be straight with them.

So instead of the empty apologies of my 20’s listed above, here are my32-year-old’s re-writes:

“Thank you for the invite. I would have attended if I felt it would have been a good fit with how I’m doing things lately. If you have something else coming up that is more like _________, instead of ________please keep me in mind!”

“I’d love to help you out, but unfortunately doing that is not something I’m prepared to do right now because I have ____________ going on. Do you have someone else you can ask to do that for you or do you have something else you can set aside so you can get this important thing done for yourself?

“I think that we should make some dedicated time to talk or spend time together in the near future. I’ve got so much on my plate I want to give you focused attention and not be distracted with everything around me. When is a good date and time for you, I’ll send you a calendar invite!”

“Last night was a a wild time and I hope everyone has as much fun as I intended. I just wish more people were able to join me or let me know if something wasn’t right in the moment. If you were in my shoes, how would you like to be told to tone it down? Can we work on upholding eachothers confidence when we’re out together?”

“I think it’s important to hear all sides before getting involved with something. Of course, I’m always going to be supportive of you, but blindly joining in without the full picture would have escalated the problem and I want to help things, not hurt them.”

Sometimes it takes more words, more sandwiching the good around the bad. So if you’re really sorry — say it, but don’t let the word “sorry” stand in the place of what you are really feeling or truly believe.

Saying sorry too much diminishes the value of your words, it comes off as lip service to many and more often than not, it’s an escapism word for people to skirt around the real issue at hand.

You’re not sorry, you just…

  • Didn’t want to go to that event
  • Don’t need to do something for someone just because they asked
  • Don’t need boring small talk conversations on the regular
  • Don’t expect everyone to have the same definition of “fun” as you
  • Don’t want to get involved with someone else’s conflict

So there you have it, the next time you’re about to spit out the “S” word, don’t.

Instead, articulate what’s really going on in your head and emotions.

You’ll learn so much more about yourself and the people around you, you won’t have to wait until 30 to see it for what it really is.

Fresh perspectives on work, life and the “why” of humans. Consulting with conscience, resiliency and curiosity. Founder of www.snowberryconsulting.com

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