Sorry Seems to Be the Easiest Word: Why Women Apologise So Much


Sorry Seems to Be the Easiest Word: Why Women Apologise So Much

Illustration: Shruti Yatam


urry up! Why do you always take so long?” my friend grumbled while rolling her eyes at me. I have a degree in painting, which I was using at the time to artfully apply concealer to a zit on my face, but I interrupted my masterpiece to turn around and mumble, “I’m sorry.” As I scurried to gather my things and head out, I accidentally stepped on a mat, and promptly muttered another “sorry” under my breath. Yes, I even seek forgiveness from literal doormats.

Tinges of contrition crop up in my speech in varying degrees, and my pangs of conscience are more frequent – and, perhaps, more soul-gnawing – than my menstrual cramps. Growing up as a girl in an acutely conservative middle-class family in a small town, I was always taught to dot the i’s and cross the t’s when it came to minding my p’s and q’s; the perfect ingredients for a cocktail known as social anxiety. And having struggled with this social anxiety for as long as I can conceivably recall, it wouldn’t surprise me if I were to discover that “sorry” is the most-recurring word in my vocabulary. My daily tally of apologies is likely greater than the number of boundaries in a Virat Kohli innings or shimmies in a Katrina Kaif item number.