I received one of the most important pieces of advice that I’ve ever received on a drunken St. Patty’s Day.
I was with my then boss and his girlfriend at a St. Patrick’s Day event on a closed-off street in downtown San Francisco. I was maybe 22 at the time, if not younger.
My boss’ girlfriend was a petite brunette who was super sweet. I don’t remember all the details what we were talking about or why (blame the booze) but what I do remember is she was very classy, she did something and made a lot of money for herself, and she was wearing a turtleneck.
She and I stood face to face with the crowd buzzing around us in varying shades of green and intoxication.
We were generally talking about being an adult and feeling like an adult and that’s when she passed on the advice that she felt was an “adult” making revelation.
“A real woman never makes excuses,” she told me.
“This is for everything,” she continued. “If you don’t want to date a guy, you just say no, don’t make any excuses.”
It was such a simple concept and yet it seemed so profound.
“A real woman never makes excuses.”
At the time, although I generally got the gist of what she was saying I don’t think I understood it as well as I do now. Logically, it makes sense but for many women, especially those of us who tend to be people pleasers, the idea of just owning our shit without making excuses is a very sensitive spot.
In some ways, it seems like we’re taught from a very young age to be apologetic for who we are. We pepper our feelings with “I’m sorries,” or offer other polite explanations as a way to make others more comfortable with our feelings.
We say no when we mean yes, and say yes when we mean no. And, even if we’re being 100% honest with how we feel and say yes or no, we still feel like we have to give an explanation, as if to apologize for how we feel.
But we don’t.
As I’m growing and becoming more comfortable with the woman I am, I now fully understand what my boss’ girlfriend was trying to tell me all those years ago – that it’s okay to just be myself.
I do not need to explain, ask for permission, or feel guilty for anything.
In a world that is constantly telling us who we should be, what we should dress like, and that we are not enough, it’s a great act of bravery to just be who you are. To mean what you say, and to say what you mean.
And to never have to make up an excuse.