Help and the Apology Addiction

So I’ve been doing this new, revolutionary thing lately.  It’s really cool.  Let me share it with you.

It’s called: (drum-roll please)… ahem… Asking for help.

It’s crazy really… First, you struggle with something, don’t understand something, feel overwhelmed about something.  Then you find another human being and you ask said human being to help you.  Sometimes they say “no”, but MOST of the time they say “YES!”.

For this little nugget of advice…… You are ever so welcome.

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It has taken me two decades to learn that asking for help isn’t weakness.  NEVER asking for help is a weakness and an unnecessary burden (and, in all honesty, terribly arrogant).  We were made for each other.  We were made be together.  We were made to help each other out.

I get that now… and I’ve been participating in this valuable benefit of human connection.

But there’s just this one tiny problem.

I’ve realized that my asking for help always has “apology bookends”.

“Sorry to ask, but do you mind explaining the conjugation of irregular Spanish verbs once more? Sorry.”

“I feel so bad asking, but do you mind helping me move some boxes?  Really sorry to put you out.”

I was confused about something in my upper-division English class, so decided to visit my professor during his dedicated office hours and ask him for some help.  I walked into his office and the first thing I said was, “Sorry, do you have a few minutes to help me out?”  He looked at me with a blank stare and then kindly reminded me: “Well, these ARE my office hours.”

I discovered I was addicted to apologizing though I had committed no crime.  And then this happened…

Has anybody seen this viral video?  If you haven’t, take a few minutes and watch it.  I’ve watched about 5 times over the course of this past weekend. What struck me the most wasn’t even the main point…. What struck me was:

“I asked 5 questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word ‘sorry’”

Suddenly the heavens opened up and the angels started singing and I realized that I was not the only person who has the Apology Addiction.

It’s as though deep down I believe that my question is an inconvenience and not worth the 30 seconds spent in answering it.  But it must be SO DEEP DOWN, because I do not even realize that I’m doing it.  Before asking for help, I don’t think to myself, “Oh, I’m not worthy of this person’s time and attention”… Yet “Sorry” slips through my lips before I have the chance to close them tightly and shush the Apology Addiction.

I want to be an healthy apologizer.  I want to apologize when I am in the wrong.  But asking questions, asking for assistance, asking for a moment of somebody’s time is not wrong.

So I’m waging a war on my Apology Addiction.  I’m accepting that I can “take up space”  (as Lily Myers discusses in the video).  When I have wronged, I will say that I am sorry and mean it to my depths.  When I am not in the wrong, I will not apologize for asking a question, for consuming a few seconds of time.  Then I will give a huge “Thank you for your time!” and a smile and be sure to reciprocate when needed.

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Do you have the Apology Addiction?  Do you think it’s more of a female problem or more of a human problem?

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