A Sincere Apology

I am sorry. I apologize. Sorry if I did anything remotely unappealing.

Over the past few weeks, I have apologized a multitude of times. Classmates, professors, family members: You name the person, I probably said “sorry” to them recently. Whether these statements were necessary or not is debatable, but nevertheless, I am somewhat incapable of letting my work, words, and behavior stand for themselves.

In one of my classes (in which I ended up apologizing to a classmate, obviously), we briefly discussed apologizing, and the connotations associated with such declarations within the hotel industry. We were actually warned by our professor to not be overly apologetic, as doing so essentially accepts liability for situations when it is neither needed, nor wanted. Still, though, our class was told to never forget the benefits of showing empathy and awareness of both ourselves and others.

While thinking about my apologetic habits a couple of days ago, I sort of became confused; when I am apologizing, am I really taking responsibility? To those obtaining my expressed regrets, the situation may seem that way, but to me, it is actually not. I realized that when I apologize, I am basically attempting to shift any negative thoughts of others away from me; if I say “sorry,” I honestly just tell myself that I have done my part to smooth over issues, and that the acceptant cannot hold anything against me.

I noticed these tendencies a few days ago, and it was not long after that I started to connect the dots between this behavior and another one of mine: my habit of presenting myself as particularly unsure of myself in order to gain validation.

Now, my self-esteem and self-confidence have been areas that I have been exploring for a while. There is specifically an odd dichotomy that I have noticed within myself, which I explored a bit in my post entitled “I Love Who I Want to Be” and is still present in myself. Do I have a huge ego, or do I actually really need to work on my self-esteem?

Well, my ideas regarding that question are developing even more.

I have become a bit of an office-hour-hopper lately, as this semester comes to a close. Within them, I typically throw out a multitude of questions, request feedback, and try to alleviate some of my concerns. In response, I am typically awarded largely positive comments and helpful propositions from my professors, but especially toward the end of these sessions, I often behave in a way that has become peculiar to me. It is almost as if I amplify my insecurities, and when asked about how I feel, I try to receive any last bit of encouragement I can.

I even begin conversations in the first place with a degree of uncertainty, no matter how much positive feedback was given to me beforehand. For instance, after giving a speech that I apparently did fairly well (based on peer evaluations), I asked my professor “Did I do okay?” Furthermore, I sent my final answer answer for project to another professor “in order to see if I did well,” while knowing almost certainly that I had it exactly correct, as I had just asked for feedback and received extensive help with it a week before. Within these instances, it is as though I am looking for any kind of validation I can be offered, regardless of the positive feedback given to me beforehand.

Am I conceited? Do I need friends? The answer to both questions is likely YES.

The fact that I have been told lately that I need to work on my confidence, boost my volume, and be comfortable answering questions when I know the answers to them further complicates my thoughts. While being presented these recommendations, I whole-heartedly agreed. At the same time, though, I have been concerned about possibly being egotistical.

So, by intensifying the display of my insecurities, is it a way in which I can seem as though I do not have a large ego, protect myself from the embarrassment/shock of potential errors, and also boost my confidence to unhealthy levels?

Why do I not just accept compliments and move on? Well, I fear becoming overconfident. By denying any opportunity for extra feedback, I believe that I leave myself vulnerable for major letdowns. I mean, I am constantly trying to not “jinx myself,” whether in my brief journal entries or in a physical way (knocking on wood, of course). This kind of false security I try to create for myself is comparable toward my habit of apologizing; the act is a way of preparing for any criticism that will inevitably be thrown my way.

I know, it is a bit manipulative of me to set up the bait for unnecessary validation. In my defense, though, I really question if I am deserving of self-confidence to the point that I can feel comfortable letting my work and actions truly stand for themselves. (Clearly, I do need to work on my confidence, and/or improving my quality as a human being in order to earn this desired conviction.) It is honestly near-impossible for me to just turn in a large project or give a presentation and hope for the best; any kind of encouragement is valuable to me. The kinds of small questions or looks of particular insecurity I enact are my ways of showing and emphasizing my vulnerability in a way that could show some semblance of self-awareness regarding my flaws.

The real problem, though, is that I feel a bit insincere at times, and even a bit guilty. Essentially pleading, both verbally and non-verbally, for feedback is likely quite odd, and putting on a face of even slightly-exaggerated insecurity in order to seem inoffensive is something I cannot be proud of.

So, basically, the question that has been occupying my mind is if I am I just plainly unconfident, or if I exaggerate my insecurities in order to seem humble while simultaneously enlarging my ego. I mean, I have a personal blog; how much more egotistical can I get? (I am honestly unsure whether that question is sarcastic or not.)

Well, listed below are what I believe to be the steps I have gone through lately:

  1. Feel some pride
  2. Think that I am overconfident
  3. Become insecure about my abilities
  4. Ask for help and/or advice
  5. Incentivize validation
  6. Bask in positive comments for a few minutes
  7. Feel guilty about having some semblance of confidence
  8. Set up bait for more validation, in order to substantiate my confidence
  9. Repeat steps 1-8; maybe throw in some grand statements of thanks (which honestly have been earned due to peoples’ abilities to appeal to my insanity) and apologies for any flaws, mistakes, and guilt for my constant questions

Clearly, as mentioned before, I am starting to feel guilty about setting up bait for validation.

Constantly setting up situations for positive feedback is really not without flaws, as I am finding that the kind comments I receive are starting to feel unearned; thus, I put in even more effort into not becoming overconfident from them, but I still crave the positivity itself.

Being told my work is excellent and that my professor is “so proud of me” has almost brought no joy to me. I need the validation, but once I get it, I still go back to rejecting it in fear of becoming overconfident. This rejection and feeling as though my praise is somewhat unearned is likely why I am wondering if I am genuinely good at anything; Am I actually a good writer, speech-giver, or potential hotelier? Or, instead, have I been setting up so many potential sources of validation that unearned compliments are subsequently presented to me, and I want to accept them, but will not let myself fully out of hesitation?

For example, during high school, I was finishing up an essay for my English class; being my insecure self, I had my teacher read over it several times outside of class in order to soothe my worries. Even so, I believe it ended up being my lowest-scored essay that semester (do not worry, it was still not bad by any means). Through constantly asking for validation and feedback, I likely was just fed general and overly-positive comments that would basically just stop me from being so pesky outside of class time. So, by being obnoxious with my constant, and rather insincere, search for validation and presentation of apologies, I worry that I will become confident in a way that is unmerited.

At this point, I am leaning toward believing that I am plainly insecure; my desire to think that I am overconfident shows my insecurity itself, as I fear any kind of internal sense of opulence that could make me vulnerable.

Clearly, I need to work on my confidence, keep working hard, accept compliments, and do not set up bait so much, so I can actually be more independent and appreciate what I receive. Admittedly, I am a bit afraid of feeling confident in general, though, when I still am unqualified, have so many choices in front of me for my future, and am motivated to succeed in whatever I do.

Nevertheless, I need to take responsibility for my actions; apologizing in hopes of covering up any flaws of mine and trying to gain as many positive comments possible, even when not offered completely voluntarily, is unproductive.

Eye rolls. Stares in disbelief. Looks of concern.

Over the past week or so, these reactions are what I have received after explaining some of my actions, most of which involved my excessive apologies to others, extreme sentimentality, and desire for feedback.

Consequently, I sincerely apologize for my potential lack of sincerity and abundance of apologies.

-Stephanie

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