“Apologizing is a modern plague,” Girls star and co-creator Lena Dunham writes in an amusing and insightful essay published by LinkedIn on Wednesday in which she explores the roots of her problem of over-apologizing, and how she’s eventually overcome it. Dunham, to the best of her recollection, traced her case of “the sorries” back to an incident in second grade when she apologized to a fellow student who had not invited Dunham to her birthday party. “She publicly handed invitations out to the whole class in front of me. Sorry for my tears. Sorry you had to be mean. Sorry I’m not the kind of person you’d want to attend a Sunday afternoon romp at the YMCA. Sorry,” Dunham writes.
In adulthood, Dunham observes, “I am a woman who is sometimes right, sometimes wrong but somehow always sorry.” She says the problem was exacerbated by becoming “a boss” when she was put in charge of her own TV show at the age of 24. “While my commitment to my work overrode almost any performance anxiety I had, it didn’t override my hardwired instinct to apologize. If I changed my mind, if someone disagreed with me, even if someone else misheard me or made a mistake … I was so, so sorry,” she writes in the essay.
How’d Dunham eventually kick her “apology addiction,” as she put it? Her father issued her a challenge. “What would happen if you spent this week NOT apologizing?” her father pressed her. Feeling, well, quite sorry, her dad suggested in a blunt manner, using a profanity, that she should focus on finding out what would happen if she went cold turkey on the apologies. Dunham concludes the essay explaining how trying to meet the challenge set forth by her father played out.
Read the full essay at LinkedIn.