Taking up Space and Acting Small

Taking Up Space and Acting Small  - for anyone who has ever been big, they understand the feeling of trying to make themselves small to fit in -- apologizing, pleasing, hunching over and trying to be invisible. Here's what we need to do: Own that space. Read the full post at andiemitchell.com #weightloss #inspiration

I am always sorry. “Oh did I just bump your chair? God, I’m so sorry.” “Did I not hold that door? Sososorry.” “I’m sorry, but I think…”

It’s endless how sorry I am. The number of times I excuse myself for, well, being, is astronomical. Laughable. But it’s real and it’s true. I learned to be sorry in almost the same way I learned to walk — which is to say, a little less graceful than I’d like, and something for which I’m, yeah, a little sorry.

I apologize profusely in anticipation of doing something that might annoy, be perceived as impolite, might be a hassle; I apologize when I think the barista at Starbucks made me the wrong drink. And often, I just drink it to avoid making him feel like he’s done something wrong. Because that’s the thing about sorry: I’m so sorry that I don’t want you to be. I’ve got enough for two.

Of course, one root of sorry runs right from the trunk of womanhood. You and I already know that we’re born to a culture that wants us small — small of mind, small of spirit, small of build. And yes, there are rebellions, revolutions, decades, where we make massive strides, but still, we’re aware. Girls and women aren’t ever far from the cage in which they were born.

Sorry is a way of excusing ourselves. “Sorry,” when used as frequently as I and the women around me do, negates. It eliminates. Denies rights to being, thinking, acting. It’s the way in which we keep ourselves from getting too big for our britches, isn’t it? From thinking we have ownership over space or beliefs or our bodies. And the fact that it’s used so profusely, so quickly and unthinkingly — as a reflex — makes it that much more troubling. Sorry becomes part of who we are. Non-threatening non-entities.

And yet, another root of sorry is fatness.

I have always been a bigger person. Even when I’m not big in a weight sense, I still consider myself a bigger individual. I’m tall. I have big hands. Big feet. My shoulders are broad. My rib cage is awesome. My head, my face — they’re in-your-face big. But I’ve also been morbidly obese. And the reality of taking up that kind of space is: you make yourself small in other ways.

For me, small power came in the form of politeness, sweetness. Which is not to say I didn’t feel genuine pleasure in being pleasing and polite, didn’t feel real urges to be sweet, but the over-the-top-ness, the going out of my way to be accommodating no matter what — those came from one place: the desire to fit in.  I tried, I did, so hard. To be ever kinder. Softer. I didn’t want to be a bother, or worse, in the way, or to let anyone do things for me. Physically, I hunched over. And now those rolled shoulders are here to stay. I camouflaged what I could, covered what I couldn’t. I concealed what might have been real (feelings) and big (attitudes). I focused on others’ pleasure, particularly in the case of men. And in doing so, I got to feel what small feels like: less than.

What could the perks possibly be, then? I guess I came across as the most pleasing pleaser ever. Maybe it made for a smoother ride. But then my late twenties came, and I said, “Wait, what the–? Am I so caught up in being a super-sorry people pleaser that I’m forgetting to figure out what I want?”  When I’m pleasing, am I being pleased?

When you apologize for everything, every time, ever, you begin to internalize. Rather than the sorrys becoming just meaningless words we use over and over, the way my generation uses “like” in, like, everything, we start to believe the wrongdoings. Consciously, subconsciously, unconsciously. We bow our heads with the sorrys until we become as short as they are.

I, personally, am apologizing, day in and day out, for not being enough. For not making the right meal when my friends come over for dinner. How dull are tacos, anyway? For not being the “right” size — even if I don’t say it aloud. For ruminating on a relationship that’s over. I think about people I have crushes on and, to this day, no matter how successful I may become, my first thought is, Jesus, they would never like me. What kind of bullshit is that?

There’s always that way that I doubt myself. When I cut myself down before I’ve begun. The times I think about writing and say, “But honestly, who WON’T hate this?”

Taking up space and acting small is such a real part of life for all of us who are fat, at one point or another. It’s those who are able to realize that owning the real estate of our bodies is more than just fine, but the investment of a lifetime, that are the ones to admire.

I’m working on it. And not just because I am or am not small, but because I don’t need the smallness anymore. I don’t want it. It’s fine to take that space, be big in ways literal and not, and to like it. I won’t die when not everyone likes me. They can’t. They won’t.

I’m taking space now. And I’m sorry but that feels really good.

 

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118 thoughts on “Taking up Space and Acting Small

  1. Jiggs

    Two things that make me crazy are 1) people who are constantly saying “Sorry” when there’s no need, and 2) people who over use “Just kidding”…

    I liked your post! I almost always like your posts. Many of them, I love. Thank you for sharing! I’ve told you before that you’ve been a positive influence in my life, and I would dare say, hundreds of people. Keep it up!

    You left out some things you’re big in… “Spirit” “Love” “Caring” “Faithfulness” And, for these, you do not need to be sorry……………

    Reply
    1. Carole

      Andie, I love your writing, it always resonates with me. This time I came close to tears. You are writing about ME and so many of our “sisters”. A speaker I heard years ago referred to our (women’s) “pathological need to please.” That opened my eyes for the first time. You have done it again, more eloquently.

      I am so happy to have met you through your blog. You have a wonderful spirit.

      Reply
    2. Andie Mitchell Post author

      Ahh the “just kidding” tic can be really frustrating — you’re right.

      Thank you, Jiggs! I appreciate you being so kind, and it means so much that my writing has meant something to you!

      Reply
  2. Jess

    For someone who says “sorry” to no end (and my husband and sisters can attest to this), I feel you on so many levels and its time we stand up and stop saying “sorry.” Thank you for this, for all your writing – it helps me move forward in so many positive ways. Sending you lots of hugs and strength from one “sorry” girl to another! :)

    Reply
    1. Andie Mitchell Post author

      I’m right there with you. You and I, we’re going to first eliminate the truly unnecessary sorrys — the ones where it’s CRAZY to apologize, and slowly– very slowly– we’ll break away from the bigger ones. It’ll be totally imperfect and wayward, but we’ll get there.

      Thank you, Jess!

      Reply
  3. Anne

    This post resonates with me so much. I’ve spent so much of my life wanting to be as small as possible in as many ways as possible, and I am just beginning to learn that it is indeed okay to take up space, physically and otherwise.

    Reply
  4. ASuburbanLife

    This was such an amazingly honest and insightful post that I had to read it twice. I’m in midlife, trying to get the promotion that is long overdue me, and my current boss is the first one to tell me that I have to improve my visibility, that my hard work and achievements alone don’t get me to the next level. I’ve worked so hard to not draw attention to myself – because of my midwestern upbringing that stressed modesty, because I’m a girl, because I’m overweight. It’s very hard to change one’s approach at my age, but I’m working at it. Bravo to you for recognizing this and taking up space now! And encouraging others to do so as well.

    Reply
    1. Heather

      What you said here is what I struggle with, too. I try to hide my fat and my intelligence. Or maybe I am hiding my intelligence BEHIND my fat. Either way, it’s made me so bitter…I hide and then wonder why I am passed up for amazing job opportunities and I always have to start at the bottom and work my way up. I guess I have created my own miserable reality by remaining small.

      Reply
      1. Shelly

        Gosh, this is me! Always hiding the intelligence and fat because I so desperately want to fit in, to belong. Great post, I really related….

        Reply
    2. Andie Mitchell Post author

      This struggle is so big, so vast. And, ASuburbanLife, you articulated it really well. It’s this endless cycle of us trying to not make waves until no one even notices we’re in the water. Then you make a splash and it’s “hang on, don’t be aggressive.” Gah. We’ve got to just go on, go about what we want in this life of ours without the fear of what the hell everyone else is going to think.

      Reply
      1. Rebecca

        ASuburbanLife, your comment really resonated with me! I spent years of my life trying to be small, to be unheard, to be unobtrusive. I think there’s definitely an art to knowing WHEN and HOW to make yourself seen/heard/noticed, but I’m learning to be assertive when I need to/should be. I thought about this a lot this year–I finally landed my first “real” teaching job, and when I was picking interview clothes I picked a red shirt against all recommendations. I wear red well, and I paired it with a tasteful black suit, so I figured “why not be a little loud?” I wanted people to remember me, after all!

        Reply
    3. marietta

      Marietta
      Wow…this was profound! At age 44, I’ve struggled with an assortment of eating disorders, the root of all being unworthiness. Never once realized, till now, that saying sorry for everything just feeds that core belief. Somethng to be more conscious of, for sure!

      Reply
  5. Amanda

    You always seem to post exactly what I need to hear at just the right time. Somehow hearing someone verbalize what I’ve been doing makes me realize how much I need to change my thinking. Thank you for your honesty and your brave bearing of your soul, your words touch many lives.

    Reply
  6. Donna

    It’s difficult when your strengths turn on you and become your weakness. Like you Andy, I am polite and kind and always trying not to impose or offend. I actually apologized to someone last week because my face looked a little scarred by a recent procedure to remove a pre-cancer spot on my face – as though I needed to be sorry for actually making another person even look at me! How very sad. I’m in the process of changing, too. Turns out losing weight was the easy part – changing my thoughts is so much harder. I spent a lifetime trying too hard to fit in, and saying sorry when sorry wasn’t needed . . . but these days I am putting my foot down and instead of trying I am just being.

    Reply
    1. Andie Mitchell Post author

      God, I’ve done that. I’ve apologized for walking funny after having surgery. I’ve apologized for crying in school when my dad died.

      You are so right on, Donna. Changing our thoughts is where the work begins.

      Reply
  7. Ashlee

    Andie, I feel this! i want to be physically smaller because I take up too much space in this world. Other people’s precious space. I’ve been trying lately to be myself unapologetically but it’s hard.

    Reply
    1. Andie Mitchell Post author

      Thank you, Ash! Yeah, it’s very hard. Just experiment. Try it and see if the world ends. When it doesn’t, see how you feel asking for what you want, acting how you want, unapologetically. I think you’ll like it :)

      Reply
  8. Aine @ Awkward Irish Girl Blogs

    I relate to this way too much. I think it’s a feminine thing, unfortunately, in a way; we’re brought up to be nice and modest and quiet and well-mannered. Which is okay, and not bad really, except for that it leads some of us to believe that we’re not as big as others. And it leads us to hesitate before grabbing opportunities. Then, when we take those opportunities, there’s a little voice inside saying: ‘You don’t deserve this.’
    It’s only in the last year or so I’ve started to actively turn this around. Life is too short otherwise!
    You are amaze, you are a great writer and person and it’s fantastic that you’re finally starting to realise it! :)
    (PS. Blog more please???)

    Reply
  9. Amanda

    I love this post (and all your others!) My husband calls my best friend and I the “Sorry Sisters” because we say it so often. Please write more. :)

    Reply
  10. Ali | Gimme Some Oven

    YES. Spot on. Love this.

    (And btw, my friends actually instituted a no-apologizing rule awhile back. We try and catch each other with the unnecessary “sorry’s” — of which I am too often guilty of saying as well.)

    Reply
  11. Amanda

    I’d like to offer just a small tidbit of advice. A few years ago I found myself apologizing for things that didn’t deserve apologies, like the examples you offered in your post. Accidentally bumping into someone on the subway, needing to answer a phone call while spending time with a friend. At the time I was learning Spanish, and ‘I’m sorry’, or ‘lo siento’ directly translates into ‘I feel it’. I gave that a thought, and decided that I wasn’t actually sorry for anything for which I was apologizing. And from that day on I made an effort to replace “I’m sorry” with “excuse me” in almost every instance I felt I needed to use the phrase. It’s worked wonders, and I can honestly say I don’t apologize for things I’m truly not “feeling it” for.

    Reply
  12. Hope M.

    Good stuff, Andie. Like everyone is saying, thanks for your realness.

    (Also, I was at Starbucks the other day and they got my drink wrong TWICE and I felt like I should apologize. Silly.)

    Reply
      1. Danielle

        I literally just started reading this blog yesterday. My co-worker suggested it for recipes. After some browsing I was compelled to pick up the book at Target today. I apologized to the Barista when she made me an iced drink instead of a hot one and even offered to pay again for the correct one. Needless to say I got through half the book. This post really resonated with me tonight. Actually brought me to tears. Looking forward to the rest of the book. Thank you.

        Reply
  13. Alison Phillips

    I’m really glad you wrote this. There is absolutely no reason to apologize to anyone for anything that you didn’t do out of malice or another cause equally horrible. You’ve done just the opposite, by trying to make everyone happy but yourself. It’s past time people realized that simply by nature of birth as a human being that they are entitled to being treated just as well as anyone else, free of the judgement of size, color, preference, or anything else. It’s also time that someone else did the pleasing where you’re concerned. Your heart is an amazing thing judging simply by the words you write with such an honest soul. You’re genuine and that’s so rare anymore, but even better is that you share that with all of us.

    Reply
    1. Andie Mitchell Post author

      It’s so true — if I keep in mind that my intentions are (almost always) good and I’m never trying to hurt anyone with my actions, then I’d be a lot less likely to apologize for the little things — especially silly things like “I don’t know if you’re going to like this cake I made for you! I’m so sorry! I should have thought of something better.”

      Thank you so much, Alison. This is so, so kind <3

      Reply
  14. Mandi

    I’ll jump on the bandwagon with you, Andie. I’m sick of saying sorry all the time- especially when there’s nothing to apologize for! Guess it’s not mostly a Midwestern thing.

    Reply
  15. Lisa

    I can’t hardly begin to tell you how much I identify with this. It’s like you wrote it just for me :-( you just described me and my “sorry” behavior to a T. Thank you for your sensitive honest open writing and for being an inspiration!

    Reply
  16. Raquel

    I´m glad you know you´re taking space and not being sorry for it. It´s yours. Take the most of it and enjoy it! We all should do the same.

    Reply
  17. Gina

    I’ve been reading your posts for such a long time and this was the very first time I had to respond. I’ve used the word “sorry” for so many years, some more than others, and never took the time to reflect on it. I’ve known that I’ve done it since my mom pointed it out to me back when I was a pre-teen. I think it was worse at that point in my life. I’m 37 know and I still catch myself doing it. The crazy thing is, I’ve had female students who have done it throughout my years as a teacher, and it irritates the hell out of me. I’m always following their “sorries” with a “why are you sorry, you’ve done nothing wrong?” Still, I do it…pretty much daily. Thank you for this post. It really made me understand why I do it and why I should stop.

    Reply
  18. megan

    You.are.such.a.gifted.writer.

    One of the things that I believe our battle with weight and acceptance and self image produces, as we age and become aware of ourselves and the messages of this world (truth and lies) is a deep consciousness of feelings and emotions and what we are really feeling (not just what we are portraying to the world)…yes, we may be broken and overly accommodating and apologetic (or angry and sarcastic and annoying…), but eventually, because of the battle we have fought for so many years, we gain an awareness and sensitivity that (in your case) makes for amazing writing and listening and understanding and genuineness…that makes for a wonderful friend, encourager, wife, employee… emotional awareness and maturity comes alive and you can” take up space” with confidence <3

    You are a blessing and I am so grateful you share yourself with us…HUGS!!!!!!

    Reply
    1. Andie Mitchell Post author

      Megan! God thank you!

      I have to agree with you that eventually, we do find a deep awareness, of ourselves and others. And hopefully for all of us, that means more empathy, more compassion. Because we need heaps and gobs of that every second of every day.

      Reply
  19. Dale Fink

    Andie, I absolutely loved your honest, insightful post. I can’t tell you how much I admire your self awareness. I am a grandmother of 64 , and I relate to you…I am sure women and men of all ages can relate to you. Today , you have inspired me to stop apologizing for my true thoughts and feelings, even if is sometimes unclear, even to me, where they might be leading me. Keep doing what you are doing. I know you are going places…and I know you will have more to say.
    Congratulations on being who you are, with no apologies.

    Reply
  20. Amy

    I was with my trainer yesterday and he was pushing me really hard and he told me that I needed to get mad and I thought “I don’t ever get mad”. Not really mad. I feel like it’s connected to me also saying “I’m sorry” all of the time. Then today reading your blog…I have some figuring out to do. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Andie Mitchell Post author

      Sometimes, just when we need the lessons, the messages, they come to us — right time, right place. Glad I was part of the timing, Amy. Thank you!

      But really, you should totally be mad at your trainer! Exercise makes me mad as hell

      Reply
  21. Morgan

    Oh, girl. You know, I truly thought I was the only one who was like this. I can’t tell you how many times a friend or family member has said, “you say sorry too much,” to which I reply, “sorry.” You’re like a therapist. I realize things I never thought to be true to my situation when you post these wonderful thoughts.

    Reply
  22. Jennifer

    This post rang so true for me. I have felt undeserving for as long as I can remember. This is glaringly apparent in competitive circumstances. I would rather a tie or draw than to win and have someone else feel bad. (It’s a little sick) Thank-you!

    Reply
    1. Andie Mitchell Post author

      Thank you, Jennifer!

      We have all been in that place at some point. And maybe we’ll be there again, who knows. Let’s you and I just try to get after what we want — no sorrys, no shame — and see what happens. If we hate the feeling, we can readjust. Let me know how it goes for you. I’ll keep you updated, too.

      Reply
  23. Ti

    I always feel as if I am taking up space even when I was thin! What I can’t understand, is how fat people manage to be invisible to others. You’d think that that would make them more visible but it doesn’t work that way.

    Reply
  24. LN

    Can you be by nature “I’m sorry” person? It is so natural with me. Love this post. But, your ads drove me mad. Trying to read & they were coming one after another & I’m trying to find how to turn them off. Sorry to complain.

    Reply
  25. Rachel

    Andie,
    What a great post. I think saying “I’m sorry” for some of the small things like you mentioned is an example of a broader tendency we (I should use “I” and only speak for myself, but I think it is fair to use “we” based on the responses of all of your commenters!) have to use disclaimers. Things like “I hate to be annoying but ________” or “I may be the only one who thinks this but _______” or “I am probably the only person who does not understand _______. Can you repeat/ explain it again?” These kinds of statements are disempowering and result in minimizing whatever we say next. I love the idea of taking up the space that we deserve and refusing to be small or minimized just to please someone else.

    Onward!

    Reply
  26. Laura

    This post- wow. Thank you for taking the time to write it and share your thoughts. I have lost 120 pounds and I feel the same way. I think I spent a big part of my life refining personality traits to ensure that I made up for my weight. As I near 29 years old I’m realizing that standing up for myself is a good thing and it’s okay to have flaws. Oh the flaws, I spent a lot of time stifling them because if I weighed 300 pounds I had better not have even more things “wrong” with me. Now I am slowly accepting them and it’s a pretty good feeling, in the weirdest way. Anyhow, my point is, I totally relate to your post- and thanks.

    Reply
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  28. Alma

    This entry is a great example of why you’re on of my favorite bloggers. Thank you for articulating something I’ve never been able to express myself. For me, I would apologize even when I wasn’t actively apologizing by deciding what everyone else thought–by assuming I must be a burden–and then making decisions to lessen my impact. It’s taken me a lot of therapy, and a roommate who stubbornly refuses to let me get away with it, to get to a point when I own my existence a bit more. It’s still incredibly hard. I think most of mine came from my father dying when I was six. I tried to be invisible. For me, that was by being fat. By letting all those layers disguise my feelings. It’s been such a long journey since I realized I had some pretty messed up beliefs. But it does get easier every day.

    Reply
  29. Laura

    I completely agree with you. I know my “I’m sorry” nature is something that needs to change. In high school and college I was big enough that I hated trying to find a seat in the room and would purposefully choose a seat near the front to avoid the potentially hitting someone’s books on their desk when navigating my way down the row. I felt (and still do) that I need to say sorry for taking up space from other people. Like I’m an inconvenience. A few times at a restaurant my order has been messed up and my father insists that we tell the waiter or waitress. But I HATE it and will refuse to tell them anything is wrong. I want to fit in and be a good customer and not bother them even if they or someone else there made a mistake. And the funny thing is, if I am in their position I would be upset if someone didn’t tell me that a mistake was made. Hopefully stopping myself from saying sorry all the time will be easier than giving up cursing….
    Thank you for your wonderful post and for the record I would read anything you wrote. This was a wonderful post!

    Reply
  30. sarah

    gosh i love you. I love your bravery for putting yourself out there again and again. For growing and changing and improving. always an inspiration! Thank you for reminding me to do the same.
    big hugs

    Reply
  31. Amie

    You write in a way that is so relatable sometimes it scares me a little. I start to think maybe you have tapped into my brain/life/struggles somehow and are passing them off as your own :) All kidding aside, it is so comforting to read your posts and nod along knowing that someone else is dealing with the things I deal with. You make me want to try harder on many different levels. Thank you.

    Reply
  32. Tiffany

    Hi Andie, I have to admit I’m new to your blog but your posts have really been resonating with me. This post in particular makes me think about the way gender is a construct, and it has been deemed “feminine” and “right” that females take up less space then men. The way women typically cross their legs, or are encouraged for be a smaller size all stem from the idea that we aren’t supposed to take up as much space. But we have nothing to be sorry about! But on a side note, I actually had a question about diets for health reasons though. Have you ever tried the 5:2 diet? http://www.viralbistro.com/52-diet-revolutionise-way-eat/ It seems like this is one of the gentler less crazy diets where you eat normally for 5 days and diet on just two days. Anyways, just wanted to drop a line and get some advice from you! Cheers, Tiff

    Reply
  33. Kellie

    Your words in this post resonate with me. I too am always “sorry”. It’s become a 34 year habit (or so it seems).

    When you wrote:

    ” I apologize when I think the barista at Starbucks made me the wrong drink. And often, I just drink it to avoid making him feel like he’s done something wrong. Because that’s the thing about sorry: I’m so sorry that I don’t want you to be. I’ve got enough for two.”

    I found myself nodding while reading every line. I’ve always tried to be as kind and sweet as possible because I never wanted anyone else to feel the way I have felt or to be treated in the unkind ways I have been treated.

    It’s not easy being a woman and an ambitious one at that. An ambitious obese gal? Even harder.

    Thank you for writing this. It’s nice to know that there are people who understand and who have been there.

    Kellie

    Reply
  34. Hootie

    I like what you said about apologizing for being big affecting our subconscious. It was a big aha for me a couple of months ago to look back at old pictures and realize that my story I had been telling to others and myself about always being fat was false. I was confusing being tall and apple shaped for being fat until I made the story come true.
    I was a greyhound in chihuahua world. Too bad I didn’t realize that the greyhound was just as beautiful if not more so

    Reply
  35. Morgan

    Oh Andie, thank you so much for this post. You are the big sister I wish I had. Not to mention I have always wanted a pug – we could have pug sisters. I’m kidding. Things I shouldn’t say out loud. Can I just be adopted in an alternative universe so that this can happen?

    I can’t tell you the countless meetings I’ve had with my boss telling me to stop saying sorry. I literally had a cop pull me over and ask me what I did wrong. I ended up saying sorry so much that he said, “if I let you go will you stop saying sorry?”

    <3 thank you so, so much for this post. It brought me a wealth of clarity.

    Reply
  36. Brandi

    This post relates to me so much, I felt like you were in my thoughts when you wrote this. I constantly apologize and I am ALWAYS conscience of how sweet and pleasant I am, because I don’t want to be known as the boisterous, dominating fat girl. Thank you so much for writing this, it felt good reading this!

    Reply
  37. leah

    You’ve written my life story in one post. Even with a beautiful life, an awesome husband and five children who love me, I struggle with feeling that it’s ok to exist! I’m working on it right along with you. Thank you once again for your insight and ability to articulate what so many of us feel.

    Reply
  38. Danielle

    Andie,

    This is such a well written and meaningful post. Having gained a lot of weight in the last few years, I find myself apologizing much more than I ever remembered for things that I have no logical reason to be sorry for. “Sorry!” as I move through a crowd because how dare I ask others to make way for me. “Sorry” when I disagree with someone even when I know I’m correct. I’ve been trying so hard to seem small and unobtrusive, but I’m only succeeding in making myself feel insignificant. This is certainly something to think about…

    Reply
  39. Holly from 300 Pounds Down

    I am the sorriest person I know. If someone runs into me, I apologize. If I sit down somewhere and it looks like that person might want my seat–I apologize. If I get to the grocery line before someone else, I want to let them get in front of me and then apologize for not having offered my space in line sooner. And just like you said, when my drink is made wrong at Starbucks I apologize because I clearly did not tell them what I wanted correctly. After all, it could not be anyone’s fault but mine! I so relate to this post that it makes me feel better to be honest to know that other people think this way too. I truly believe it is a result of having lived in a large body where you take up extra space and must constantly apologize for it. Even when you lose weight, you still carry that “I’m so sorry” feeling. Thank you so much for writing this. It really makes me feel like I’m not alone!

    Reply
  40. Mira

    So much of this hit home for me. Not being good enough, not wanting to be seen, the hunched over shoulders. How do we overcome that? Even after losing a lot of weight, I still struggle with this. Not being attractive enough, smart enough, sorry for my questions, when others bump into me, it’s exhausting! Thank you for putting words into your feelings, my feelings, all of us who do this. Going to try and stand a bit taller today.

    Reply
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  42. Janelle

    I can totally relate to this post – hell, I’m a Canadian and aren’t we just famous for saying “sorry”. When I was younger, overweight and insecure due to constant bullying at school.. I used to keep my head down, always. I avoided going to the corner store for penny candy when I’d see my group of bullies loitering around the entrance, always knowing what to expect, the hurling of insults I’d get if I did go over there. Constantly trying to avoid making a scene, being noticed.

    Eventually, I had enough of it. I entered my first year of university and battled both cystic acne and being extremely overweight, but I made a group of friends who were unapologetically THEMSELVES. Sporting tight low cut tops and heading to the night club with PRIDE. I probably “looked my worse” but those girls taught me then how to rock and be proud of what I did have. I never looked back. Once I accepted myself and learned to keep my head held high, I steadily lost over 60 pounds, cleared up my skin and had more confidence than ever. But it was at rock bottom was when I had to look up, to get up and realize there was more to me than the exterior. Thank you for your words of wisdom, I always relate and appreciate your posts.

    Reply
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  44. Emily R

    Thank you so much for this. I can’t tell you how many times I say “sorry” throughout the day, most of them probably unnecessary. Such a good reminder, especially for those of us who have dealt with weight issues and have tried to be ‘small’ in other ways.

    Reply
  45. Annie @ Annie's City Kitchen

    This REALLY hit home for me. You’ve managed to beautifully capture a summary of my own life! In fact, just today, I apologized to a coworker for a mistake THEY MADE because I didn’t want to make someone feel bad.

    I think I need to read this piece as a daily reminder of my inherent value. THANK YOU.

    Reply
  46. Emily R.

    This is me. Every minute of every day of every year of my life thus far. I’m just now beginning to understand that there are things I want and things I need that might occasionally be an imposition to others, but that it’s okay. That I can sometimes be demanding because I deserve a little bit of the selfless love and bend-over-backwards kindness I try to show to every single person around me. It’s really, really hard though. Like, SO hard. It feels like waking up from a terrible nightmare that’s been going on too long. The kind where you’re not sure what’s real anymore, because you feel as though you’ve been in that dreamscape your whole life. And in this case, I have. But I’m tired of running without ever moving forward. Tired of trying desperately to dial the phone but never getting through. Thanks for helping me wake up just a little bit more. It’s wonderful (if awful) to know there’s someone else in this nightmare with me. <3

    Reply
  47. Lindsay @ Lindsay Weighs In

    “When you apologize for everything, every time, ever, you begin to internalize. Rather than the sorrys becoming just meaningless words we use over and over, the way my generation uses “like” in, like, everything, we start to believe the wrongdoings. Consciously, subconsciously, unconsciously. We bow our heads with the sorrys until we become as short as they are. I, personally, am apologizing, day in and day out, for not being enough.” <— THIS. I got tears in my eyes reading this, because I can relate to it more than you know. I am the world's biggest people pleaser, as I have always been bigger. I made myself smaller to try to fit in, and sometimes I really have to remind myself that I AM ENOUGH. I deserve to reach my goals. I'm 20 pounds into reaching my goal weight, and I'm proud of every last one of those pounds that I've lost, and still know that I have a long way to go. By continually realizing that I don't need to apologize for my existence, if that makes sense, I know that I'm enough to deserve to want to reach my goals :)

    Reply
  48. Erica

    Amazing writing. I don’t say sorry too often, but only because I do my best to avoid others because I feel like no matter what I do, I’m often inconveniencing them with my presence. I’m a fairly small person at only 5’0″ and 110lbs, yet still I sometimes feel that I’m not worth of occupying my space. When I get accomplishments, I downplay them. It’s nice to see others that have the same issue, and are on the path to being big, amazing people. =)

    Reply
  49. Natalie

    Andie, thank you once again for an amazing post. Struggling myself with so many issues of feeling inadequate. Thank you, thank you. You are one of my favorite bloggers!

    Reply
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  51. Tara

    This gets me right to the core. I afraid of how much damage the tiny voice inside my head did before I figured out – “Hey I don’t actually have to listen to myself.” I thought, if I could think it, then it Must be true. It is a process, albeit a Slow one. Sort of like two inches forward, one inch back. But I’m getting there, and I like reading (correction – I LOVE reading) everything you write. Sometimes because it’s so brilliant, other times because I feel like someone just reached into my heart and turned out words fit to what I was feeling.
    This shrinking and apologizing has gone on long enough. I wasn’t always like that though, as a kid I was most likely the obnoxious know it all (But hey I was smart so maybe I really Did know it all) I never got to find out though because that happened to be right around the age that girls were taught to be seen and not heard, be girly and attractive or else boys wont like you. Don’t be so bossy, no one likes a bossy girl. And then the weight came so then I Definitely wasn’t drawing attention to myself. Thankfully I have some amazingly strong women who influence my life (Mom) and told me it was my right, my choice, my happiness that should allow me to say what I think and feel. (While being polite if possible)

    For a while I would split my thoughts into “You’re not good enough, they will know you don’t know what you’re talking about, why would you think you deserve that” OR “You are an amazing powerful woman! You are awesome!” – Then I would feel guilty about being so vain (or what I thought was vain) and go back to the cycle of negative thoughts.

    Now I am slowly becoming the person I always wanted to be. The one who was in there the whole time. And she IS awesome

    Reply
  52. Anik Sales

    I felt you were writing about me and I read every word of your wonderful well written blog/story. I have always been that person, the one that always wants to please and never knows how to say no. But here’s the catch….I don’t say “no” and after I’m complaining about why this or why that. I recently decided enough was enough, due to my “I’m sorry” and “Yes” personality one of the problems is that there will always be someone who will abuse of your “yes personality” and than I hate myself for not being strong in the first place. It’s not their fault but it’s mine for allowing myself to fall on this trap over and over again. Be a “yes” and “I’m sorry” person to the right people, the ones that need you in their lives, the ones that appreciate what you do, and of course if you really need to apologize for something you did wrong. I am starting to learn this and it’s not easy – it’s a start.

    Reply
  53. Alyssa

    It’s so amazing that I read this today, because this is me too – I’m not that much of a people-pleaser, but I’m an “I’m sorry”-er all the time. ALL. the. TIME. If someone else bumps into me, I apologize to them. It’s compulsive.
    Today I was at Target picking up an online order and they screwed up and didn’t pull one of the items and it took forever and three associates to fix it, and several times I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from apologizing to them for the inconvenience. I offered to just cancel the order so they wouldn’t have to go around looking for my stuff, but the cashier was insistent and apologizing to me. Then they gave me “apology coupons.” Who knew that such a thing existed?? 3 coupons each worth $3 off my next purchase, no exclusions or strings attached. Amazing.
    But through the whole 20-minute ordeal, I did not apologize once. :)

    Reply
  54. Melanie A.

    I’m a newbie to your blog but this post really hit home. I’m 45 years old and just now starting to address the issues that should have been address 20+ years ago. The problem is I didn’t even realize they were there until after I turned 30. I have been a people pleaser my whole life and another who says sorry for everything. I have no idea if part of the people pleasing is who I am or tied into the sorry part because all I have ever wanted is to be liked and feel loved. I honestly don’t even know who I am at this point because I’ve spent so much time trying to fit in and figure out how to get people to love me or like me. I know that is the root issue for me with food. I didn’t grow up with healthy food to start with but I learned early on that I could always count on food to be there. Long road to go but I’m thankful I have found your blog to help me get some more insight and realize I’m not alone.

    Reply
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  56. amy

    Andie, I just got your book today in the mail! I am 46 years old, mom to 7 kids and was giddy like a kid when ‘my” book got here!!! I resonate so much with feeling small. I wasn’t always overweight, as a teen and early adult i was in good shape, but let myself become so small i forgot i “existed”, if you know what i mean! I’ve put everyone and everything in front of my own wants and needs and realized God didn’t make me to be invisible, but to do what I can to help others and that includes taking care of myself and what an example of that you’re being. Thank you so much for being raw and real and having an open window to let us have a glimpse of the hope that awaits us! Praying for you!

    Reply
  57. Anne F.

    I have a dear friend who says this all the time. I tell her she has nothing to be sorry for—Quit! I think this is from her having a very domineering father who would smack her on the back and tell her to stand up straight! Yes, she is round shoulders and humped over. Parents even put a back brace on her! So sad. Great person and is liked by all. Very outgoing and does so much for her family and frinds. But I’m sorry that stuff gets old even though I understand it. I just want her to be confident about herself not to feel like a bother. p.s. Andi, people don’t care about iwhether or not you are having tacos or not when invited. They are THRILLED to be invited and just want to be with you and your other friends. The food is secondary even though I am sure those tacos are GREAT! Let it go!!!!!!!!!!!!! af

    Reply
  58. Beth

    Goodness, I hadn’t really put my finger on this feeling but always sensed it was there. The sense of trying to shrink– it’s the same compulsion to wear a cardigan with literally every outfit, not laugh as much as I’d like, or to keep my thoughts to myself when I have something to share– just to keep from taking up too much space. Most recently, I realized this is why I’d rather email someone or text than speak to them face-to-face, or even over the phone. Because my bigness isn’t present in written form, and it’s then that I feel free to have bigger opinions and larger words. When someone can hear or see me, they might be overwhelmed with me, and I am restrained. I’m stunned to hear these thoughts spoken so specifically and so clearly from another person, as I often am with you, Andie. Thanks for pursuing this, because your calling is to give word and voice to things we’ve long since buried.

    Reply
  59. Liz

    Thank you Andie, this really hit home with me – trying not to take up space has been an issue for me for years. Being physically large makes you feel like you already take up too much space so you better not do it with your sparkling personality.

    I was so worried about being a bother, I managed to ignore blood clots in my lungs to the point where I was hospitalized for 7 days on oxygen because I almost died. Not wanting to bother my parents / kids / work friends, trying to please everyone almost killed me. Maybe a bit extreme but true :)

    Learning not to say sorry and not worry about pleasing everyone is an ongoing fight but I’m trying.

    Reply
  60. Sarah

    Wow, this really struck a cord for me- thank you for writing this, Andie! The part that particularly struck me is the weight issue- For myself, I can definitely relate to the feeling that I need to play ‘small’ in order to make up for my weight gain, and all the space I take up. I sometimes catch myself thinking that I should apologize/answer to people I haven’t seen in a while cause I have gained weight! What the hell is that?? Kind of like, ‘yeah, I know, I gained weight back after I lost it, I suck. Sorry’. What a yucky feeling to carry around.

    Reply
  61. jenn

    Oh wow. How did I miss this gem until now?! After my forth and last child was born 4 weeks ago I have been on a roller coaster of emotion. I have gained 80 pounds…again. This will be the fifth (yes fifth) time I will need to lose it. I gained weight and then lost it for the first time before my wedding (I was not heavy before that and I am not sure what triggered the “fat year” but then I gained 80 pounds with every pregnancy…and YES I am ashamed and apologetic of the physical space I take up…and I become a chronic apologizer when I am heavy…but as I drop in numbers on the scale I increase in confidence, feist, attitude and esteem. It corrolates with how in the 170’s people start looking me in the eye again…and in the 160’s I can shop at regular stores again and in the 150’s I will go to a beach and in the 140’s people let me go in front of them in line, and hold doors and in the 130’s men wink at me (not weirdo’s but cute ones too…don’t tell my husband!) and I feel like I am deserving only then of happiness… people then I am fully accepted and have a right to be in the space I am allotted by the culture who labeled my worth by a number on the scale. Only then am I not perpetually sorry. I have a little girl who just turned three. She thinks she is beautiful. I try to get her to apologize probably moreso than my sons because subconsciously I know that she is a girl and in our world you are born being sorry for that alone because of the messages we receive over and over and over that we are not quite enough; that we own and pass on to our daughters who started off thinking they are beautiful. And enough. How dare I take that from her. How dare I base her mothers worth to be by the number on the scale. Thank you again…another eye opening thinker of a post! xo

    Reply
  62. Kathy

    This was so powerful for me. I read this blog out loud, saying yes, yes, ! I even took notes.I’ve acted small all my life. It felt like that’s what was expected. Any other behavior would look like I was spoiled or being a brat– Heaven forbid! And, I was literally small for my age, to make matters worse. On top of being overweight most of my adult life, I lived with the shame of poverty, etc. So, in my silver years, I’m standing taller, looking people in the eye, and learning to speak my truth! It’s not an easy road, but I’m taking the journey.
    etc.

    Reply
  63. Beth

    It’s funny, I feel I could have written this post it’s so accurate to how I feel. And to be honest, one person I’m doing this for, one person I’m trying to fool here, is ME. So, I’d add another– being small, existing small, shrinking to the size of my apologies… part of that is also a denial, and abuse of who I am. I’m trying to smash my actual frame down into a box that’s a size I am willing to accept– denying that I’m actually a categorically big person, and refusing to accept that reality. It kinda fits with the idea of putting things off til I lose weight. I am willing to accept that when I’ve lost the weight I’ll look at it for what it was, but while I’m here I don’t think I could live with myself if I admitted how big I actually am.

    Reply
  64. Maylinn

    This is so TRUE! I love it.
    Thank you for putting into words how I feel about myself, and describing it so accurately.

    I will not feel small anymore!

    Reply

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