How strange does that sound? A strong, independent man.

How normal does this sound? A strong, independent woman.

You will never meet a man, hear of his career and successes, learn he is single and think, “Damn! What a strong man who is providing for himself. And he’s doing it all alone, he’s so independent. What an inspiration! You do you, boo!”

But if this situation is reversed to a woman, those thoughts are very easy to come into our minds.

The answer for this “phenomenon” is simple, in the rigid categories that make up our society, women are seen as lesser than men. Women aren’t seen as independent as often as men are. Men are expected to be independent and strong. This is not groundbreaking news, everybody knows this fact of life. This limits men as much as it limits women.

Masculinity is an idea created by our society, for men to be seen as the providers, the strong ones, the brave ones, the rough and tough ones. For femininity, women must be nurturing and take care of the home and they must, most importantly, find a man to marry who will provide her with a great abundance of disgusting, snotty children who she must slave over and it’s her husband’s duty to bring home all of the bacon.

I like to think we live in a progressive country where most of this is changing or being worked on.

Because these definitions of “masculine” and “feminine” and the roles of men versus women in life are so intense and socialized throughout our lives, many times the “oppression” of women or the undervaluing of women isn’t even noticed.

We unconsciously support these ideas of masculinity and femininity. No woman wants to be forced to live a cookie cutter life, but our own language limits us and degrades ourselves.

“Just” and “sorry” are words which women use too often and they limit us.

I personally discovered this trait in myself first before realizing it was a widespread issue.

Sometimes people get upset, with themselves or others, or in my case, with a significant other. There were serious issues and when attempting to confront them and be open with my own personal feelings, the word “just” would be the first thing to come out of my mouth. It was almost like I needed and wanted to downplay my own legitimate emotions to be sensitive to my significant other.

After realizing this, I found through various researchers and articles that this isn’t an issue with myself. It’s something women have been taught.

By saying, “It’s just that, you do this and it makes me feel this way,” my emotions aren’t being received in full as they should be. Following the “just,” “sorry” is often in the same sentence.

I know I’m not the only woman to do this either. Too many women are downplaying their emotions and their human rights to feel by using these two little words far too often. It begins with small things like somebody bumping into you and you apologizing instead, then it grows to apologizing for feeling a completely natural way.

Take a hold of your emotions, your thoughts, your feelings, your wants and continue with them boldy. In a way any man can.

These two words socialize those around us by showing them that women must feel completely irrationally if they must apologize for it often. It shows women must be in the way or a burden if they have to apologize for something that is not their fault.

Things like our language are things we don’t often question. Seeing a woman as independent is great, but it makes you think twice why we can’t describe men as so. Apologizing is polite, but it makes you question why women must be so much more polite.

It’s the smallest, easiest change. Apologize less. Be yourself, completely unapologetically. You’ll be surprised how empowered you feel.