Saturday, February 21, 2015

The "Not Sorry"

I really feel in love with this writer from the last sketch show I was in. She was not a comedy person--doing the writing program at SC to get some creativity pumped into her very serious professional scientist life. She's a spritely single mom from Texas who showed up to every rehearsal smiling, bearing gluten-free snacks, and ready to learn--even well into the rehearsals when truly nothing was funny anymore.

When she found out I teach community college she told me about her stint as an adjunct. One of her rules was that ladies in her class couldn't say "sorry" to preface a question. No apologies for questions! She'd repeat. She eventually made a rule that if you said "sorry" she would just keep teaching and ignore your hand. This is just wonderful. We really do say sorry too much when we mean, I'm not sure, "I come in peace" or "I might be stupid"?

So this ad happened:
I like this ad. This ad resonates with me. I assert myself fairly well for a woman, but some of these scenes really stung.

This week I tried to be conscious of my apologies. Here's what happened:

1. I went to the department meeting at school. I went, despite not being full-time faculty, because I had some questions about a new policy in place. I sat quietly, sometimes getting confused looks and sometimes feeling funny because I was the only adjunct and started questioning if I wasn't actually invited (but I had gotten all the emails about it, so?) After a little discussion about the policy, I decided to ask my questions. I played a few opening lines to launch into the meeting. Many were apologies: ("I am an adjunct, so I'm sorry--" "Maybe I should know this, but") I thought about assertiveness and said strongly, "Could I have a clarification about the new policy? I am an adjunct. The exam is no longer pass/fail?" The chair (another woman) fluttered her eyes and said, "I sent out emails at the beginning of the term to all the adjuncts explaining this." She sighed, "But..." and proceeded to answer my questions. I had read both of her explanation emails. Several times. They were confusing, and this whole place is new to me still. I had sent her my questions in an email she had never responded to. I made the point to make the commute on the coldest day in February to the meeting even though I had no classes to teach that day. I couldn't help but feel pretty lowly. I couldn't help but feel presenting myself as a poor, weakling would have harnessed a better reaction. "I'm sorry. I just can't seem to figure out exactly what's happening with the new policy."

2. In one of my improv classes my teacher mentioned offhand a show we were doing. This was news to me. As he discussed it I interjected, "What show is this?" He paused and explained he mentioned it the first day of class. Again, I missed my "sorry"--although I really shouldn't be? Right? If I am surprised by news, why do I have to be sorry about that?

I appreciate this sentiment about taking control and not being apologetic for living. But I'm not sold yet.

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