Becky Portman: I’m not sorry, again
’Tis the season for atonement, folks. If you have been a dedicated reader of this here column, which I am certain you are, you will know that I am a big fan of apologizing. I apologize for everything, from taking up space to Jeffrey Epstein. Maybe it’s my midwestern upbringing or my Jewish guilt or my genitals, but I am always apologizing for one thing or another. I apologize for men who make me feel uncomfortable. I apologize for making myself vulnerable. I apologize for being too loud, too goofy, too honest, too much. As women we are taught to say sorry before we know what we are apologizing for. We are trained from a young age that our existence is a burden, that our presence is annoying, that our words aren’t heard. But I am tired of saying sorry into the void.
When I wrote a similar listicle to this one last year, in honor of Yom Kippur, it came from a place of hope that this year I wouldn’t second guess myself, I wouldn’t apologize when I didn’t need to, I wouldn’t say sorry for who I am. Ultimately, I think I failed my New Year’s resolution because I am right where I was one year ago. I am writing with the same false confidence in the same coffee shop (Comet Coffee) at the same table (the one on the right closest to the counter), drinking the same drink (an oat milk latte), wearing the same T-shirt (a vintage tee featuring the season two cast of SNL), listening to the same songs (something by Mitski), thinking about the same damn things (I really need to stop biting my nails this year, I mean it). Some things never change.
Sure, there are some apologies I really should make, like to my landlord for tearing out a chunk of my dry wall trying to hang a “Frances Ha” poster and when I told you I couldn’t hang out because I was busy but actually I was just rewatching “Fleabag” for the seventh time. Still, I have made a tradition of taking the time and ink of The Daily to let everyone know what I won’t be atoning for this year. So here it is folks, my day of anti-atonement, my soliloquy of non-sorries, my listicle of laments, what I will not be atoning for this year:
I will not atone for boasting my 500+ LinkedIn connections. It’s an accomplishment whether it gets me a job or not.
I will not atone for writing listicles in replace of prose for my Daily Humor Column. It’s punchy and fun and I like it.
I will not atone for paying actual, physical money to see the “Downton Abbey” movie when I could have just rewatched the show for free on PBS. It was the most calming movie-going experience I have ever had and the plumber was hot.
I will not atone for going to career fair without a folder. Who even knew that was a thing?
I will not atone for using mouthwash in my bed when I am too lazy to get up and brush my teeth.
I will not atone for listening to podcasts at the gym.
I will not atone for telling people I am 5’7” when I am actually a tall 5’6.”
I will not atone for grinding my own coffee beans. It’s pretentious but it tastes better, OKAY?
I will not atone for my loud watch. I know it ticks and tocks, it’s a goddamn watch, Brenda.
I will not atone for using a strand of my own hair to pick food out of my teeth when I don’t have floss on hand. Ask anyone with long hair, they do it too.
I will not atone for my Pinterest boards, of which there are many.
I will not atone for using Google maps to get home from the MLB. I have no sense of direction.
I will not atone for not knowing what I’m doing after graduation. I have time to figure it out, Aunt Judy!
I will not atone for announcing when I go to the gym — “I’m going to the gym, everyone,” “If you need me, I’ll be at the gym,” “Just going to my happy place, the gym, I’m going to the GYM,” — because people should know that I am svelte and fit and swol.
I will not atone for calling my mom between five and 15 times a day. She is a joy to talk to and I walk a lot.
I will not atone for wearing the same leggings I wore yesterday just inside out. It’s clean enough and I haven’t done laundry yet this month.
I will not atone for listening to the “Succession” theme on repeat, it’s a banger.
I will not atone for my Glossier addiction. I am just trying to be the Bratz doll “Euphoria” influencer I know I can be.
I will not atone for calling dress pants “slacks.”
I will not atone for dying my hair blonde and telling people it’s natural. Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s none of your business.
There it is, dear reader, another year’s worth of not sorries, another 365 days of beg your pardons, 525,600 more minutes of excuse you. Let’s hope this year is one filled with less regret and more release, less apologizing and more actualizing, less concern and more confidence.