9 Things You Need To Stop Apologising For Immediately

9 Things You Need To Stop Apologising For Immediately
Carly Jacobs


 read this article last year and it said that Brits apologise up to 8 times per day. I can only assume that the stats are similar in Australia but how insane is that? Think about it this way. You HAVE to apologise for eight different things today – what are they going to be? I’m assuming you’re not planning on running over any puppies or stealing your co-worker’s identity so what could possibly warrant EIGHT apologies throughout the course of a single day? We need to get off the Sorry Wagon and start owning our decisions and exercise our rights as functioning humans. I do declare that these are the first things you need to stop apologising for.

things you need to stop apologising for

Saying no to social engagements

You don’t have to drop everything and run to the pub every time a friend calls you, you don’t have to go to six baby showers every month and you sure as hell don’t have to go to every single work event that the social club organises in your office. You don’t even need to make up an excuse. A simple ‘I can’t make it.‘ is very effective. If you throw a ‘sorry’ in there, people will start to question you. Don’t give them an option. Say no, don’t say sorry.

Prioritising your health

I had dinner with a friend recently and she was really apologetic that she couldn’t have a glass of wine with me because she was running a 10km race the next day. Dude. Apologising for not drinking, not eating unhealthy food, not coming to Tuesday night trivia because you have boot camp in the morning is ludicrous. Own it. ‘I can’t do drinks on Wednesday, I’ve got training.’ If your excuse was ‘I’m visiting my sick mother in hospital.’ no one would question it. It’s not up to your peers to validate your choices. Validate them yourself.

Your achievements

It doesn’t matter if you were the only one who qualified for a promotion in your office, if you got a promotion that’s rad and you shouldn’t belittle the achievement. If you do something awesome, don’t try to down play it. We have serious tall poppy issues in Australia and a lot of that stems from the fact that we tend to make light of achievements and fail to celebrate our wins appropriately. Don’t apologise for being awesome. It wasn’t a mistake.

Focussing on your career

Work life balance is obviously very important but if you’re particularly career focussed there are going to be people who are going to make you feel guilty for that. Johnny Depp says ‘Never complain, never explain.‘. If you choose your career, choose it and stop apologising for it. I had a meeting with a client the other day and her secretary warned me that ‘she’s very career focussed’ as if she was telling me she had genital warts or something. Fuck that. ‘Career focussed’ people end up being the Sara Blakelys, the Steve Jobs and the Marissa Mayers of the world and I’d bet good money that they’ve never apologised for working late on a Friday night.

Disagreeing with people

Never apologise for having a different opinion. Just start your argument with ‘I believe…’ or ‘I think…’, no apology necessary.

The way you look

Humans are living organisms just like trees. Sometimes trees look full and green and sometimes when the weather is being unpredictable trees can shed their leaves and then they look different. It is extremely unusual for any living, breathing being to look the same all the time, yet for some reason there’s an unrealistic expectation for humans to look the very best they’ve ever looked, every single day. It’s stupid. As a human creature you will get tired, sick, you will get bigger and smaller and your skin and hair will change. We are products of lifestyle, circumstance and our environment, most of which is totally out of our control. Stop apologising for it. On a tired day, you’re simply a tree that’s been blown around by unexpected gale force winds and who’s fault is that? No ones.

Spending money on things you love

I once worked with this guy who came running into the office one day to show me this limited edition chess set he’d bought that was based around a video game he loved. It cost him $1500 and he’d saved up for months for it. Another guy in the department kept saying ‘$1500??? What a rip off!’ until this guy felt so embarrassed about his purchase that he stopped talking about it. That’s crap. It’s your money, you spend it however you like and you don’t apologise for it. If you want to spend your Christmas bonus on limited edition Star Wars memorabilia or a solid gold coffee mug, go for it. And tell everyone else to get stuffed.

Feeling things

If you’re feeling sad, angry, happy or silly there’s no need to explain why. Ever. If you’re crying, there’s definitely no need to apologise for that. It’s like saying ‘I’m so sorry I’m functioning in the way that a human being is supposed to with fluctuating emotions, empathy and a sense of justice.’ You also don’t need to apologise for not showing emotions. I used to be embarrassed that I was the only one at every funeral I’ve been to that wasn’t sobbing into a handy pack of tissues but I’m not apologising for it. I don’t cry in public. Deal with it.

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What do you need to stop apologising for?

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P.S Did you know there’s a Smaggle newsletter? And Smags on Facebook? There’s lots of cool shit in both places so make sure you go to there.

P.P.S This post was originally published in 2014 but has since been updated.


  1. Kelly 8 years ago

    Awesome article. I think I need to stop apologising for some things for sure. For example, working fulltime + hours, studying part-time and mum to two kids – why I cant be on every committee / at every school assembly etc. My kids are the world to me, but I work and spend time with them after school to provide the best life for us that I can. Stop trying to make me feel like a failure because Im not the worlds most committed school mum too. Im not sorry that I want to work.

    • yes! I just can’t do it. I always apologise for those things. But the fact is I don’t know anyone who is on all those committees and turns up to everything that isn’t actually a giant pain in the arse and a huge martyr. So, no I’m not sorry. At all.

      • Kelly 8 years ago

        Yep. I agree wholeheartedly!! Especially the pain in the arse bit :o)

      • Author
        Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

        Ha! I love this!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      I’m the same! I’m a business owner and I always feel guilty that I don’t really have ‘weekends’ because I’m usually working. I also don’t get sick leave and holiday leave so I never go away with my mates during the holidays because my holiday times are so precious and I want to spend them with Mr Smaggle.

    • nonnuclearmaven 8 years ago

      I’m in the same boat as Kelly, studying and working with a primary school aged child in a school with predominantly stay at home mums. I just can’t make it to every assembly, dance concert, P&C meeting, fundraising event. I’m not apologising for that, I’ve spent the last 5.5 years as a single mum and you just simply can not be everywhere! I try to make it to the important things and thats all I can do.

      • Author
        Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

        That’s exactly right. It’s impossible to be in 50 places at once and it’s silly to feel guilty about it! 🙂

  2. Vanessa 8 years ago

    It’s an interesting intersection of linguistics and society – I wonder how many people realise they’ve saying sorry as in apologising vs saying sorry the way checkout staff have to ask you how your day has been.
    It has almost become a conversation starter or filler word to buffer someone else’s imagined expectations “Sorry, but I disagree with you…” rather than “Interesting point. I see this as…”

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      Exactly, a lot of it is simply mis-using the word. I start most sentences with ‘sorry’ and I have to stop doing that.

  3. Vicki | Style On V 8 years ago

    Carly this is just so perfect for me right now. Thank you. V x

  4. katepickle 8 years ago

    Love this!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      It seemed so obvious when I wrote it but sometimes people just need a reminder!

  5. cjm76 8 years ago

    From one Carly to another – I love being unapologetic for the very nine points you’ve written about. I may still have my training wheels on, but I try. Fuck everyone else – if I love something, I’ll buy it. I have opinions, and I’m not going to invalidate them by saying ‘sorry, but …’ Effing brilliant article!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      Thank you my dear! Keep working it… practice makes perfect!

  6. Sally 8 years ago

    Carly, I think secretly, you’re my best friend!

  7. Sublime Finds 8 years ago

    I LOVE this, Smags, especially “Don’t apologies for being awesome. It wasn’t a mistake”.
    I need to stop apologising for not wanting to socialise people. I’m a raging extrovert and have set a mean pace for myself on the socialisation front, but lately I want to be home to blog! #sorrynotsorry

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      I’m EXACTLY THE SAME!!! There are all these ‘How to not terrifying an introvert’ articles around at the moment and I’m all ‘Extroverts are people too!’ It’s the curse of being high energy… people expect it from you all the time!

  8. Interesting! 8 years ago

    There’s a difference between apologising and expressing regret. If I say “I’m sorry I can’t make it” or “I’m sorry I can’t have a drink” it’s probably a little of both, depending on how much I like you, and the word “sorry” is a useful way of expressing it in any case. (And it’s also good manners, rather than feeling guilt, which most of the rest of the post is about.)

    The “sorry, but…” beginning to an argument is pretty much the opposite. It mostly comes off as more arrogant than actually apologising for having a differing opinion.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      That’s true… I’ll always sorry if I actually wanted to go to gathering and couldn’t. But I try really hard to keep sorry’s out of conversation where I shouldn’t have to feel guilty!

  9. Nicole (@dorkabrain) 8 years ago

    Because of extremely low self-esteem and social anxiety, 8 would be a very low number for me; on rare days that I communicate with anyone other than my husband (going to the hairdresser, perhaps) I could probably randomly say sorry about 20-30 times. It’s an awful habit, I know, but one that I have had almost all of my life. It’s definitely something I wish I didn’t do, but to stop doing it all together is easier said than done.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      Oh totally true! I think it’s important to just be aware of it and not over apologise for everything or for things that aren’t necessary! 🙂

  10. nicole 8 years ago

    I have just come across your website, and it is fantastic!! Thank you for this beautiful article. Saying sorry is something I do far too often, and I have known for so long not to do it! This is giving me a really kick up the butt to be proud of me, and not apologise for who I am! xxx

  11. Natalie 8 years ago

    I am SO SO SO guilty of this. I apologise for so much. When I started dating my boyfriend, it was one of the things he would constantly tell me “stop apologising! You have nothing to apologise about”. I never realised how often I would, I’m a lot better these days, but I still probably apologise 10 times a day about something! I’ve even apologised to my cat.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      I’ve definitely done that to. I often use ‘sorry’ to mean ‘I’m about to speak now.’ So silly.

  12. I’m a chronic over-apologiser and it shits me to tears.
    Maybe I need to replace “sorry” with a word so random that when I say it, it sounds so incredibly stupid that I stop saying it altogether:
    “I can’t make it to the party on Saturday, stapler.”

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      HA! Awesome. ‘Stapler, I can’t make it your kitchen tea.’

  13. Kate 8 years ago

    “It’s not up to your peers to validate your choices. Validate them yourself.”
    Yes. Just Yes.
    Loved all of this. I’m one of those “trying to please everyone” people so am often apologising for not being everything to everyone. IT JUST NOT POSSIBLE! And I have to keep reminding myself of that.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 8 years ago

      Good on you! That’s exactly right. You can’t please everyone but you can please yourself!

  14. Maxabella 8 years ago

    It’s interesting because while there are nine things people shouldn’t apologise for but do, there are so many things people SHOULD apologise for but don’t. I think I’d rather be excessively apologetic than not sorry when I should be. I think that’s ok. x

  15. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid 7 years ago

    Perhaps it’s because I’m British but I’m always saying sorry. It’s almost second nature. However, these are valid points, and I’m going to try to say sorry less and own my decisions more! Boom!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 7 years ago

      I’m a chronic over apologiser. I even apologise when people crash into me on the street. I have to concentrate more on not doing that!

  16. Rachael 7 years ago

    The thing is, people expect the sorry and it irritates them if it’s not there. So it’s a people pleasing issue. Amy schumer dd a recent skit on it. She does put her finger on it and it’s funny but a bit sad.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Oh I know the skit you’re talking about – is it the one where the woman explodes? Or the one with the women on the panel and the woman’s legs get burned off? Both of those sound horrific. 🙂

      • Rachael 7 years ago

        Ha they do sound horrific and unappealing to watch. It’s the one with the burnt leg and the man says oops after she dies.

  17. Olivia Allende 7 years ago

    Great article smaggle! So good to see these apology traps so well articulated. My old wog grandpa used to say people apologise too much, as if small inconveniences warrant profuse apology. If a store clerk gives you the wrong change and you apologise for correcting them etc. He maintained that it was more prominent in Australia than his native Spain. He would tell me all the time never to apologise unless i felt sorry. So i rarely apologise for anything exept if im wrong and was mouthy.I have 2 kids and work like a horse. I could be that soccer mum and do school canteen but i just dont want to. I have experienced pressure to be that mum but i would never apologise for it. It teaches your kids to make decisions. Doesn’t mean i dont feel mum guilt but apologising for being you is bad for business 🙂

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Oh totally! I have mates that have tried for years to get me to go to music festivals and I have no interest. I won’t apologise for that. It sounds bloody dreadful and I don’t have to like it. 🙂

  18. Hippie Mumma 7 years ago

    I always find myself saying “Sorry” and then I think “why am I sorry for THAT?!” It’s just ingrained now. Trying to break it! x

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      I have to stop apologising when people crash into me in the street. I do it all the time and often I get no reply. When I crash into someone and I get no response after I apologise, I usually say loudly ‘Oh no worries at all! Don’t worry about!’ in a fake mock reply to myself. Very mature right? 🙂

  19. Love this! So so true, thank you.:)

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      You are welcome lovely! See you at PB next week! x

  20. I’m a serial sorry at times and I see my kids doing it and I feel TERRORBUBBLE!

  21. KezUnprepared 7 years ago

    I love this. It took me a long time to stop excessively apologising for not attending every opening of an envelope. I am saving time for my family and for my own soul (I sometimes need time out – it’s my introverted side). It was actually a therapist who gave me the courage during a really fruitful session. Now I do admit that I use the word sorry, but in a way that is not so OTT apologetic – it’s more of a matter of fact “Sorry, but we’re not making it.”
    Not my old, “Oh my gosh I am so so sorry but I have this excuse or that excuse and I really really need to justify it to you because I’m scared you won’t like me for saying no.”

    Also, I have GOT to stop apologising for people being in MY way at the supermarket!!! I noticed myself doing it yesterday. People kept clogging up the aisles just chatting and mucking about. I SHOULD have said, “Excuse me please” but I kept saying, “Oh sorry” when SOMEONE ELSE bumped into me or when they were the ones who should have been considerate in the first place! I have made a mental note to not do that again! x

  22. Dawn 7 years ago

    I’m Scottish… We don’t do sorry we just growl a lot…but who cares, you had me when you quoted Johnny Depp 😀

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