I remember dating a boy in high school who called me out for saying “sorry” too much. He kept asking me, “What are you sorry for?” I didn’t have a legitimate answer or reason. I remember in college a close sorority sister and still best-friend today sternly said, “Quit saying sorry when there’s nothing to be sorry about, it’s unattractive on you!” A close Nashville gal of mine says, “Save your sorrys.”
I identify as a type two on the Enneagram. (I encourage you to keep reading and then go back and explore this wonderful spiritual tool.)
My core need is to belong and to feel wanted. Growing up I achieved this need by people pleasing. I could become whatever people needed me to be. I would drop everything to be there for just about anyone. As I have grown into a more secure woman today, I noticed my sorrys were coming from a place where I thought I lacked something. A place where I felt I was not enough for people. Enough for love. Enough for friendship. Enough for connection. Saying sorry was like insurance to myself and to the other person to make sure that I was wanted. That they still needed me. These sorry stories stuck with me and would always pop up as a reminder, “Why do you keep saying sorry?” “Is this a situation that actually deserves a sorry?” Becoming more aware of my tendencies and motivations behind what I say, think, and feel has completely changed how I handle conflict, relationships, and my self-worth.
As a type 2, I take on healthy characteristics of a type 4 when I am in security or health. This means I can access my true authentic creative nature and help others altruistically. I acknowledge my own needs and feeling first, before helping with someone else. When in stress I disintegrate into the unhealthy characteristics of a type 8. This means I can become reactive, controlling, self-righteous, and in some cases a straight.up.bulldozer. I love what my favorite Enneagram author Suzanne Stabile says about types in stress and security: “You cannot take care of yourself without the behaviors of both numbers.” When I am a healthy two I know, think, and feel that I am loved and that I already belong. I operate from a place of unconditional love with good boundaries. The healthy side of a four gives me permission to go inward and recognize my own needs and feelings, which makes me a better empath, partner, friend, co-worker, leader, and teacher. This permission allows me to spend evenings alone in solitude and peace and not feel alone. The healthy side of four also allows me freedom for greater creativity where I foster from a place of joy, which produces beautiful writing, songs, art, thoughts, and new dreams. The healthy side of an eight allows me to say “no” without overthinking (meaning I don’t wonder if the person(s) I said “no” to are going to think less of me or never ask me again). This healthy eight energy helps me advocate for myself. This healthy side of an eight allows me to lead with a confident assurance- that regardless of the outcome, I believe what I do matters and the core of who I am is unaffected. What a discovery this was for me. It’s like having superpowers you never knew existed.
This leads to my word for 2018: unapologetic.
Recognizing and embracing how the best parts of me can also be the worst of me has led me on a path of health and wholeness. In a world where we are “unapologetic” behind our screens spewing anything and everything for the sake of proving a point or being “right,” this is not what I mean.
This word means feeling what I feel. Thinking what I think. Saying what I think and not being afraid of the shame or fear that may try paralyze me in the process. It’s only in the latter half of my twenties have I recognized my own feelings. This may sound silly, but honestly, I have always been so worried about the happiness of others and trying to fix their problems that I hardly acknowledged my own feelings. You laugh, but if are in my orbit at all, you know this has been a tendency of mine. I used to be so good at being a chameleon with other’s feelings that it was just gross. I could have won a million dollars and Tim Tebow may have just proposed to me, but you’re sad? I’m sad. I may have had my cat die and totaled my car, but you’re happy? I’m happy. As much as I thought I was helping empathize with others, I might as well have been taking a blowtorch to our relationships because I wasn’t being authentic. My intentions were caring, but my motivations were a mess. I can look back on those chapters with grace for myself because they illuminated my need to embrace how I was beautifully created. I have become unapologetic about acknowledging my need to feel and process my own feelings. (Yes this sometimes comes at a cost, which is for another blog post.)
It means saying what I think because I know I have thought carefully about my words, not to please or manipulate others, but recognizing my voice matters as a light to shine in dark places.
I can often wear the crown of outsourcing my thinking. I can often want affirmation for every decision or thought no matter how small so that I know it’s right or it will be at least well received. Saying what I actually think allows me the practice of trusting my own voice and calling. It allows me to write to you in this moment and not worry about your approval of my thoughts.
Being unapologetic gives me permission:
to save my sorrys for when I need to own it.
to not say sorry for things people might unintentionally project upon me.
to say I have plans for the evening even if those plans are to try out new recipes while I watch Mizzou basketball, alone.
to make my yes my BEST yes.
to say no to one group of friends because I have already plans with another group of friends.
to savor the past and be expectant about the future.
to empathize with someone’s pain and not become it.
to still be church shopping almost 3 years into Nashville.
to be in sweet relationship with Jesus and have hesitations with the Church.
to feel when I am sad (or ANY feeling really) and not wallow, but sit with it while I process.
to be the only person in the room with a particular opinion and still share it anyway.
to be vulnerable when rejection is at risk.
to ask for help.
to enter into constructive conflict.
to politely say no to the second date even when I know I might hurt his feelings.
to say no. period.
to like what I like (hobbies, foods, music, IPAs…)
to express my needs and have my needs be met.
to be wandering but not lost.
In 2016 my word was courageous, 2017 it was freedom. This year is I am excited to plant another seed in the garden of my soul and allow it to take root in my life. Oh, what beauty the future holds.
Make it beautiful,
ps. Do you have a word for the year? I’d love to hear about it!