By Sophie Becker
Swap Sorry for Thank you
Apologies are toxic. I should know, I’m a recovering chronic apologiser.
In my speech, in my body language and most destructively in my attitude. Apology permeates every action and thought – or rather, it used to.
Although I’d been told many a time that I needed to stop saying sorry, I never realised the devastating impact of this bad habit until earlier this year.
Sorry does not make you polite. Sorry does not make you considerate. Sorry does not make you a ‘good’ human. It just makes you… well, sorry. Sorry that you’ve wasted so much of your life apologising to yourself and the world instead of projecting gratitude with every action.
It also makes you pretty damn annoying.
So often when I want to say sorry, what I really mean is thank you. I am not alone in this. It’s the difference between “Sorry I’m rambling – this must be so boring” and “Thank you for listening to me”. It’s the difference between apologising for your existence by letting others speak over you and thanking others for their attention by sharing your thoughts. It’s passivity verses action.
It’s easy to think of ‘sorry’ as selfless, but in reality it’s the opposite – it’s self-indulgent validation-seeking. Gratitude turns the focus onto others.
Sorry drains; Thank you empowers.
Sorry holds you back; Thank you pushes you forward.
Sorry is rooted in regret; Thank you demands hope and aspiration.
Earlier this year, desperate to make a monumental change in the life I’d grown so unhappy with, I pledged to replace ‘Sorry’ with ‘Thank you’. Not just in language but in attitude. Quite possibly one of the most difficult changes I’ve ever undertaken, it’s something I work on every day and it’s something I still fail at far too often.
Apology can be sneaky. It’s not always the word ‘sorry’. Last week I couldn’t help but follow up a compliment about my shoes with “I got them in a clearance sale for £8” when all I needed to say was “Thanks, I love them too.”
’Sorry’ has poisoned so much of what I do and how I think about myself. ‘Thank you’ has given me power.
When I stood in the pit on selection day, almost crushed by fear and self-doubt, I forced myself to think instead about how thankful I was for everyone in the room’s interest in what I was about to say. That small thought turned the focus from myself to others and in doing so generated an enormous amount of confidence and motivation – oh, and it changed my life.
Last week the importance in swapping these two became overwhelmingly clear again – not least because I can safely say it’s the most grateful I’ve ever felt.
Thank you, SCA, for my scholarship.
I approached the brief with gratitude for the opportunity to create a project that mattered to me and impacted others. With this attitude, it was easy to pour energy and enthusiasm into ‘Women On Board’.
Yet, for a moment, the shock of seeing my film selected allowed ye ol’ apologetic thinking to creep in. My brain reverted to its default propagation of unworthiness and ‘imposter syndrome’. I felt unworthy of celebration – of recognition. I felt apologetic to those I’d taken it away from.
It only took a second to transform these imposter-thoughts back to their true form: gratitude. Gratitude towards the panel that recognised the passion and hard work that went into my entry. Gratitude towards those that enjoyed watching the film I’d so loved making. Gratitude for the unbelievable opportunity presented to me. Gratitude for the incredible work of all SCA staff and mentors that make scholarships possible. Heck, I even thanked myself a wee bit.
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you to Marc. Thank you to panel that chose Women On Board. Thank you to Honor, Marcia and Max. Thank you for the opportunity to volunteer on portfolio day and learn about the school (despite or maybe even because of the sweat-lodge-esque experience). Thank you to all the students who took time to speak to me and offer such invaluable advice. I had a blast meeting you all. Please keep in touch. I am so darn grateful for everything that unfolded last week.
While I can say ‘thank you’ until the cows come home, true gratitude will be to work hard, create great work and seize every opportunity that SCA throws my way next year. Success is enacting ‘Thank you’ to the world.
And while every bone in my body aches to excuse the cheesiness and cringe-worthiness of this SCAB (‘emotional’ isn’t usually my go-to style for writing that runs the risk of being read) – all I’m going to say is:
Thank you for reading this.