When you care deeply, in a world that sometimes fails to do so, you can be made to feel like you have to apologize for your heart — for the way you send it to war for people.
You can feel like you have to apologize for your mind, for the way you worry, for the way it might work differently than other people’s. There are so many ways the world can convince us that we have to approach life from a certain perspective — there are so many ways society primes us with these relationship rules, and constructs around living and healing and how long that should take or how we should approach our futures, or the way we seek love, or the way we care.
And when you’re the kind of person who wears their heart on their sleeve, who sees things differently, being surrounded and constantly experiencing those societal pressures to be a certain way, can make you feel like you’re wrong, or like you have to apologize for the way you exist here.
I hope these little reminders encourage you to stop apologizing, and to take up space in who you are.
1. You don’t have to apologize for the way you care.
You are not wrong for caring. For believing in the goodness of others. For wanting to try for something. And you are not wrong for feeling something deeply, and for leaping towards that feeling. So many empaths break themselves down and blame themselves for hoping within connections. But that’s not something to apologize for.
You don’t have to apologize for your heart. You don’t have to let the world convince you that you’re not allowed to want basic respect, and honesty, and foundation, with those who come into your life and ask so much of your emotion and your time and your energy. You don’t have to apologize for wanting communication. For wanting to find something real in this world, for trying for something that genuinely felt like it could be a beautiful thing. You don’t have to feel silly for the way you crash your heart into people. And you don’t have to change yourself, or cater to the disconnection.
We need deep feelers in this world. We need people who choose depth over distance. We need people who make others believe in the goodness. We need hearts like yours in this world. Do not feel ashamed, do not apologize, for the way you care. You are going to find others like you — others who have feeling dripping from their fingertips, others who pour out their hearts, others who remind you of how light and beautiful connection can be, others who strive to make love their legacy. And you are going to be so glad that you did not let the world convince you to harden your heart, that you didn’t tuck it away into the core of you and hide it from the others. You’re going to be so glad you kept trying for something. Because what you want is out there. It’s out there. Never stop searching for it.
2. You don’t have to apologize for your anxiety, or your worry, or the way your mind works.
You don’t have to apologize for being anxious or upset over things that others don’t seem to be affected by. When you deal with a mind that sometimes overthinks, or overworries, or overloves, you can be convinced that you just need to relax, that the things your mind leaps towards are silly, that you have no reason to feel them. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that you are feeling them. That you are anxious. That you are worried. That you are dealing with emotions you may not be able to immediately control, that you are dealing with a mind that sometimes just makes you feel like you are hard to love, or like you have to apologize for the way you worry. You don’t have to desensitize yourself to that. You don’t have to add further pressure and weight to your life by convincing yourself that you are broken or unworthy because your brain works differently than those around you.
When someone has a broken leg, it is so easy to say “Okay, we’re going to approach the healing process this way, and things will be better.” We can see it, it is a tangible thing, rooted in fact and something physical. We can dissect the parts, really visualize the circumstance, and make an informed decision on how to move forward from there. But when our minds are dealing with breaks, when we have the kind of brain that has just always, on a chemical and emotional level, leans towards anxiety or depression or any other mental health illness, it’s difficult to see. It’s difficult to fix. You can’t visualize all of the moving parts. You don’t know where it stems from, when it started.
It is a process to learn how to control those thoughts — not desensitize yourself to them, but to learn how to differentiate between reality and what your anxiety is lying to you about. It is a process to learn your triggers, to learn how to calm your worry in a way that works for you. To learn how to ensure you notice the thoughts when they arise, you notice the feelings when they creep into your bones. It’s a process. And so you need to remember to be gentle with yourself. Don’t vilify yourself for the way your brain works. Don’t vilify yourself for the way you think. Don’t vilify yourself for your mental health. Dealing with these thoughts, these feelings, is difficult. It is hard. It can be really overwhelming. You have to be in your own corner. You have to believe in your ability to work through your thoughts, and work through your worry, instead of just letting the world convince you that it’s invalid, or that you’re wrong for experiencing it. You have to be kinder to yourself.
3. You don’t have to apologize for your boundaries.
You don’t have to apologize for taking care of yourself. You can be empathetic and still take care of your heart. You can care deeply and still set boundaries within that love. You can stand up for yourself. You can walk away from toxic situations. You can walk away from toxic relationships, and friends, and circumstances that are hurting you. You don’t have to stand by and let them weather you, you can walk away with grace, you can choose yourself for once, you can choose your heart for once, you can give yourself the love and the energy and the hope you so freely, and so beautifully give to others, and you can be there for yourself. That is a strength, not a weakness. It sounds cliche, but you cannot pour from an empty cup. You have to create boundaries. You have to be honest about how the people and the things around you are affecting you, how they make you feel. Walk away from anything that is too heavy to hold. Walk away from anything that has caused you to walk away from yourself for too long. Give yourself permission to do that. There is courage in that.
4. You don’t have to apologize for what your healing looks like.
The truth is — we all enter into this life blindly. With little direction. And none of us come out of it unscathed. We have all dealt with things that have changed us, with things that have stuck. We all have interior worlds filled with rooms we cannot bear to look into at times, with memory that hurts to touch. We are all healing from things we do not speak about. We are all healing from things we may not understand, things that feel unfair, and haunted, and gritty within our bones. We are all healing — and there is no right or wrong way to approach that journey, because healing is not linear, it does not exist within a structured or sensible timeline.
You will take ten steps forward, and twelve steps back. You will feel like you have moved on, and then you will hear a certain song, or you will realize that you have forgotten what your mothers voice sounded like, or you will see something that flashes nostalgia into your chest, and you will realize that the wound is still there. That it is still tender. And that is okay. It is okay. You do not have to apologize for your healing. You do not have to rush your healing. You do not have to vilify yourself for being affected by something you thought you had moved on from, you do not have to push yourself to cut the pain from the bone, to rush it out the door. Instead, you have to sit with it. You have to call it by its name. You have to let it flow through you, you have to experience it and welcome that experience, you have to work to turn the loss into lessons, and you have to be kinder to yourself within that.
You are not always going to be a shining example of the person you want to be. You are not always going to be light filled and soft. You are a human being, learning how to balance what is both light and dark within yourself. You are a human being, learning how to navigate what is gentle and what bares its teeth within you. You are a human being — a living, breathing, human being who is going to make mistakes, who is going to experience things that they did not deserve, who is fighting internal battles that no one else sees. You do not have to apologize for that. Please, just be kinder to yourself. Give yourself the empathy you so deeply give others.