My New Persona Is Ditching The Phrase "I'm Sorry"

My New Persona Is Ditching The Phrase "I'm Sorry"

Done with excessive apologies.


It was over lunch at Mr. Noodle, Westwood's premier spot for Thai food, that I was reintroduced to the concept of establishing my brand. Over and over again in my first few weeks at UCLA the term was repeated, and it became clear to me that college was not just the place for my academic growth, but for the growth of the professional personality I intend to adopt upon graduating- my brand.

Columbia University Psychologist Dr. Beth Fisher-Yoshida states that the brand someone establishes for themselves defines their perceived effectiveness in the workplace. In particular, she says that we as people (this includes my future employers and colleagues) are attracted most to a brand personality that we think can accomplish the most for us or we think we can work with to accomplish the most together. She says that there are five traits that define supreme effectiveness in someone's personal brand: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness. How one portrays those traits means everything.

This got me thinking- how do I display the five traits above in my daily interactions? What are the habits I can preserve or kiss goodbye to ensure my brand is as best as it can be when I graduate?

And then it hit me- I'm an excessive apologizer.

I falter while asking a question in a discussion? "I'm sorry."

I give an incorrect answer after a teacher asks a question in an otherwise silent lecture? "I'm sorry."

When someone bumps into me in a crowded lecture hall? "I'm sorry."

I know, the last one sounds especially ridiculous.

How can I portray the five traits above if I'm constantly minimizing my presence and belittling my conviction with two dreaded words? The answer is, I can't.

My excessive apologies are one trait I've decided to kick to the curb when it comes to building my brand for the next four years. I want to be known as a smart, strong, capable, and confident woman -- I can't be that so long as I'm apologizing for every move I make or breath I take.

The words "I'm sorry" are the chains with which I've stifled my confidence for years, and finally, I say no more. It's bigger than just establishing my brand -- the words "I'm sorry" have been wrongfully ingrained into the vernacular of women since the dawn of time. A study done by the Association for Psychological Science stated that the issue is not that women simply apologize more, but that they perceive more of their actions as offensive than men do which yields more frequent apologies.

The task at hand for me then is not just re-establishing my brand, but re-establishing the way I've been taught to think. Expanding the space I occupy as a woman with both my voice and my gestures is not an offense -- it's a display of empowerment. And for the female professional I aspire to be and for the brand I aspire to have, empowerment is a must.

It seems I've learned this lesson later than many of the incredible women I've met so far at UCLA. The same mentor who mentioned establishing my brand to me at Mr. Noodle said that I should also find women whose traits I admire and adopt them, and it appears that they've long modified themselves to only apologize when needed. They reject the status quo of limiting their influence as women, and it's their brand that I aspire to create for myself -- a brand of independence, confidence, and empowerment.

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Yes, I Want To Be A Teacher

"You know you don't make that much money, right?"

Yes, I want to be a teacher. Yes, I know what the salary of a teacher is like. Yes, I know that people will view my future career as “easy.” No, I would not want any other job in the world.

I am sure that I am not the only future educator who has had enough with hearing all the critiques about becoming a teacher; we are tired of hearing all the negative aspects because it’s obvious that the positives will ALWAYS outweigh those judgemental negative comments.

So, why do I want to be a teacher? I am sure that I speak for many other future teachers when I say that I am not doing it for the salary, benefits, or even the summer vacation (although that is a great plus!).

I want to be a teacher because I will be able to wake up on Mondays and actually be excited. Saturday and Sunday will be a nice break to relax, but I know that I will be ready to fill up my apple-shaped mug with coffee on Monday morning and be ready for a day full of laughs and new lessons for my students for the upcoming week.

I want to be a teacher because I get to have an impact on tomorrow's leaders. No, I don’t mean that I’m predicting my future student to be the president of the United States (but, hey, that would be a pretty cool accomplishment). I mean that I have the job to help students recognize that they have the power to be a leader in and out of the classroom.

I want to be a teacher because I don’t want an easy day. Challenges are what push me to greatness and success. Although many people think teaching is an easy profession, I know that it isn’t easy. It’s very hard, every day at every moment. But it is worth it when a student finally understands that math problem that stumped them for awhile and they have a huge smile from ear to ear.

I want to be a teacher because I want to work with kids. I mean, come on, what else is greater than a kid having fun and you’re the reason why? A picture might be worth a thousand words, but a child being excited and having fun while learning is worth a million.

I want to be a teacher because I don’t want a high salary. If I really cared about making a six-figure income, I would have chosen a different profession. Teaching is not about the check that I bring home every week or two, it’s about what I learn and the memories that I make; the memories that I get to share with my family at dinner that night.

SEE ALSO: To The Teacher Who Helped Shape Me

I want to be a teacher because there is nothing else in this world that I’d rather do for the rest of my life. Sure, there may be other jobs that are rewarding in more ways. But to me, nothing can compare to the view of a classroom with little feet swinging back and forth under a desk from a student learning how to write their ABCs.

Teaching may not be seen as the perfect profession for everyone, but it is the perfect profession for me.

Cover Image Credit: TeacherPop

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