Be thankful, not sorry

I decided I would fast something monthly in 2018, mainly because I’m bad at choosing things to give up. I wanted a plan so each month I knew in advance what was happening instead of going back and forth and ultimately not fasting at all. Which is what I usually do. After doing some Internet searching, this is the list I created:

  • January: No social media
  • February: No Netflix
  • March: No necessary opinions
  • April: No negativity
  • May: No idle snacking or PTO
  • June Fast: Only Christian books and music
  • July: No sleeping in
  • August: No YouTube
  • September: No complaining
  • October: No curiosity (be okay with not knowing everything)
  • November: No music in the car
  • December: No diets or lists

Being in the penultimate month of the year, I’m actually excited to say I think I’ve done fairly well. Most months, with the exception of June and July, I managed to stick to my fast without issue and found it was much easier than I anticipated.

Then I realized it was November and time for no music in the car.

My original thinking for this was it’s November, so I’ll spend my time in the car praying and thanking God. And then last week I almost fell asleep while driving home from an event and remembered I need to be stimulated while driving or else I will fall asleep. If I had super powers, I’m sure my kryptonite would be putting me in a car and you just start driving. I sleep in cars. It’s kind of my thing.

More than the safety issue, it didn’t feel right. Partially because it sounds a little miserable (sorry God) and partially because I made this list a year ago and things change. I wanted to do something that was more impactful for my life now. So I decided I would spend this month saying thank you.

It’s not like I don’t already say thank you a lot. I’m a very well-mannered human bean. My issue is, like most women, I apologize for everything, and someday I fear I will apologize my existence away.

Sometimes you need to say sorry, like if you step on someone’s toe or accidentally open their stall door while they’re going to the bathroom. But most of the time I apologize when I should say thank you.

For example, I have to ask a lot of questions about where to find files at work because I’m really bad at finding things. Usually I apologize for being such a goof to my coworker, but the other day I took a different approach. Instead of groveling in my inadequacy, I simply thanked her for her patience.

When you apologize instead of saying thank you, you’re demeaning yourself. It’s an immediate arrow that points to you and lets the world know you did something wrong. Sometimes this humility is good, but too often it’s incorrect.

Here’s how I know it’s an issue. Nine times out of 10 if I bump into a woman at the grocery store, we’ll both begin a parade of apologies to each other. Nine times out of 10 if I bump into a man in a grocery story, I’ll apologize and he’ll either ignore me or say it’s okay.

It’s ridiculous and I want it to stop.

If I start talking about my feelings too much, I tell my friend I’m sorry for dumping on them. Or if I start to go crazy at a meeting, I apologize for being long winded. In both cases, I’m discrediting myself and putting the burden on someone else. It’s much easier to thank a friend for listening and thank co-workers for hearing my ideas. It’s so much nicer, too.

Similarly, I’m going to stop adding qualifiers to my thank yous. Like the other day I accessorized one of my work shirts well and received a lot of compliments. My response to every single person who liked my outfit was “thanks, but my skirt isn’t zipped.” The “thanks, but” will be the death of me.

Even if I don’t say it out loud, I think it. If you compliment something I’ve created, I’ll tell you thanks and think about how I’m actually not great and if you actually knew all the dumb shortcuts I took. But most of the time I’ll say “thanks, but it was actually easy,” instead of just accepting praise of my work.

If you’re like me, and I knew too many of us are, I challenge you to try this too. It’s November so be thankful, not sorry. Any time you’re tempted to apologize, decide if a a thank you works better. I’m positive you’ll find that most of the time it does.

Thank you for taking the time to read my writing each and every week. I appreciate your support and acceptance.


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