Personal Perspective: Michele Kim

Entertainment Editor Michele Kim shares her experience with over-apologizing and how she has found confidence and pride in who she is and who she has become.

“Hi! Sorry, am I in the right place?”

“No, sorry, it’s not Michelle, it’s Michele. M-I-C-H-E-L-E.”

“Sorry to bother you but I…”

“So sorry I’m late!”

“I’m really sorry!”


… I used to apologize all the time.

Standing at five foot four with lanky limbs, an awkward stature and eyes constantly glued to the floor, I was far from the picture of confidence at the beginning of high school. My internal stiffness was reflected on the outside through how I acted and most importantly, how I spoke.

It was not always like this. When I was younger, I was a prolific public speaker, even giving a speech to the entire sixth grade when I was elected school president. However, it seemed my days of fearlessness halted in middle school when I developed the habit of finding humor through self-deprecating jokes.

“I hate myself,” I would often say jokingly. Or not? Externally, these jokes validated my deepest fears by turning them into what I thought were small, insignificant quips. I soon realized that the accumulation of so many negative words had a terrible impact on me — but it was too late.

All of my verbalized angst took a toll on my mental health and confidence, and soon, it showed through other aspects of my life too: over-apologizing.

Apologies can show empathy that we understand how the other person feels when we make a mistake that hurts them. At a certain point, though, apologies can go from a sign of empathy to a sign of sunken self-esteem. Constantly over-apologizing affects one’s leadership and authority.

In fact, over-apologizing conditioned me into thinking that other people’s mistakes were my fault. I apologized because I thought I needed to back off, because I did not feel like I deserved to have a voice. I did not even feel like I deserved to have my name spelled properly.

And so, stereotypically expected to be timid and unassertive, it was easy for me to spiral out of control with apologizing.

The thing is, at my core, I am anything but timid and unassertive. I started small, cultivating my public speaking through activities I grew to love, like the Falconer and Speech and Debate.

More and more, I saw myself cutting out all those “um”s, “uh”s,”and definitely the “sorry”s. I began carrying conversations and talking unapologetically.

Throughout my four years in high school, I learned how to use my words to boost my self-esteem instead of crushing it. When I changed the way I spoke, I saw these changes manifested in myself. My newfound confidence allowed me to take on things that would have been impossible before. I also learned that other people’s mistakes were not my fault nor my responsibility.

Although the gradual building up of my decimated mental health and courage was not always perfect, I can audaciously say that I am proud of myself four years later.

By the way, my name is spelled M-I-C-H-E-L-E.

Oh, and one more thing.
I’m not sorry.

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