What Does it Mean to be Unapologetic?

Unapologetic. Mirriam-Webster defines unapologetic as not feeling or showing regret or shame. Unapologetic can also be used to describe someone who is unwilling to make or express an apology. This word describes an attitude that exudes the importance of self-opinion over anyone else’s. It can be interpreted as a strength. The dictionary also lists synonyms such as confident, bold, and aggressive associated with the word unapologetic. As a recovering people-pleaser, I am deeply drawn to this idea of being unapologetic. I am in the process of shutting down the steam of sorries that I unnecessarily utter throughout the day. However, does being unapologetic equate to being unkind or not nice? Or can an unapologetic mindset set you free from an unreasonable way of thinking and improve your mental health and relationships?

Smile and Wave

woman smilingAt an early age, I was frequently told to “smile”. I never understood why my resting facial expression could convey sadness or anger when I was probably bored. A resting bitch face (or RBF), combined with a quiet and shy disposition sometimes attracted more attention from adults than I ever wanted. Comments like “Why are you so quiet?” or “Smile, it’s not so bad.” were so irritating especially when I was minding my own business. While I was feeling perfectly fine on the inside, interrogations about my outward demeanor would create feelings of insecurity. Maybe I do need to smile more? Maybe I shouldn’t be so quiet? It is difficult for a child to challenge anything an adult says and I was easily influenced. As I became older, I started to smile more and engaged in conversations even when I didn’t want to and it didn’t feel natural.

Being biracial (Japanese and Costa Rican), it was difficult to find a place where I belonged outside of my immediate family. In order to fit in, I smiled, I nodded, I agreed with it all. I didn’t want to have to deal with the uncomfortable feeling of appearing like I am out of place (even though I felt out of place). I could talk about the weather or bad traffic, general small talk. So with a fake smile plastered on my face and boring conversation skills, I avoided the judgements. I felt even more uncomfortable than I had ever felt before. I was being nice and it felt like I was walking on eggshells or a tightrope to try to please everyone around me. If everyone around me is pleased then that in and of itself should put me at ease. But it didn’t work that way. I was trying to be a mystery person who constantly changed to fit in and then questioned if the person that I was pretending to be was being accepted. I became more and more anxious because I was pretending to be something I am not.

Unapologetic and Authentic

part of smiling woman's faceA discussion of being unapologetic has to include being authentic.  Being unapologetic means to be true to yourself in the most pure and raw form and to have the strength to present your true self to the world. Without knowing who I am, what am I being unapologetic about? What are my true colors when I have been changing my colors all my life? Fortunately, getting older has been good to me. While I may have lost skin elasticity, energy, and eyesight, I have gained self-confidence, security, and wisdom.

Over the past several years, I began a journey of change by exploring my own personal vulnerabilities and building self-awareness. I began to recognize the person I want to be and this person never changed since childhood. I don’t want to walk around with a fake smile on my face even if I am feeling happy.  I don’t have anything that I want to say so I am going to enjoy sitting in silence.  It was uncomfortable at first to defy the life long training of smiling and filling in awkward silences. However, it felt great to take the pressure off of myself to carry on a witty and charming conversation. There are many people that have that gift. I am not one of them and I am not sorry about it. I am not sorry for my RBF either. Finally, I am ok with all of it and I don’t care if anyone else is ok with it or not. I found it better to sit in the discomfort of other people’s disapproval (real or perceived) than sit in the discomfort of my own inauthenticity.

Unapologetic and Rude

happy woman Unapologetic, or the act of not being sorry, can be insulting. When “Unapologetic” is proclaimed with a t-shirt or through social media, #unapologeticallyme, it can be viewed as impolite or cheeky. I equate it to a disclaimer for rudeness and arrogance and it is a sign of insecurity more than anything else. If I am truly unapologetic, you wouldn’t even know it, but I would feel it. The true power and proof of being unapologetic lies within. I feel inner peace without the intrusion of other people’s opinions. My confidence grows when I speak freely or decide to sit back and observe.

Adopting an unapologetic mindset has helped me build confidence and feel more relaxed in my own skin. It is a genuine way of thinking that has elevated my relationships with my family, friends, and co-workers. It is an internal change that doesn’t require being unkind to others. The audacity and defiance associated with the definition of not being sorry is not the definition of unapologetic that I attest to. Watch out for the fakeness of brash and outward displays of being unapologetic because it is usually a facade for people who don’t have the substance.

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Monica Bell
Monica was born and raised in New Jersey. She has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Penn State University and a master’s degree in civil engineering from Cal State Fullerton. She spent several years working, living, and playing in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Virginia, Philadelphia, and back to New Jersey again before settling down in Katy in 2009. She has been married for over 24 years to her soulmate Atiba and together they have three children and a dog that help her stay young, strong, and active. She has been on both sides of the fence as a full-time working Mama and stay-at-home Mama and everything else in between. When she isn’t carting her kids around all over Katy, she works part-time as an engineering consultant. She is a staunch supporter of chocolate and coffee any time of day and binge-watching trashy reality TV shows. Some of her favorite things include cooking up new recipes, writing, Penn State Football, and anything satirical. Monica believes that motherhood continues to lead her through a challenging journey of personal growth, gratitude, and constant chaos.


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