Outfit Post: An exploration of the blogger over-apology

Like most bloggers, I am an obsessive reader of other blogs. I subscribe to nearly 100 through Google Reader, stalk others through Twitter, and catalog a different group on Bloglovin'. I love reading the thoughts of other bloggers, seeing outfit of the day pics, and getting shopping recommendations and beauty tips. I've even gone so far as to meet other bloggers in person, and made some friends I hope to keep for a long time.

However, ever since I started reading blogs, one pattern has become evident. It seems that for every blogger posting an outfit or thoughts regarding summer trends, there's another apologizing for not posting more, not having "better" photos, not wearing a blog-worthy outfit (what does that even mean?), not writing enough, not writing like 'X" blogger does, not participating in a challenge, or for some other reason they feel they are inadequate. I myself have been guilty of this. It makes me wonder - why do we feel the need to apologize?

If you're like many women, saying "I'm sorry" has become a habit, something you murmur before asking a stranger the time or telling the cashier they've given you the wrong change. Experts observe that women apologize more often than men and for a wider variety of reasons. The fear of conflict
is a big reason why many women over-apologize. “Women are hard-wired to focus on cooperation and community, versus competition and confrontation, the way men are,” says Beverly Engel, author of The Power of Apology. And according to Dr. Susan Gaddis, of communicationsdoctor.com, "Women say, ‘I'm sorry’ much more than men because of our nurturing nature and our desire to make everyone happy.”

There's nothing wrong with apologizing in and of itself. Taking responsibility for our impact on others; acknowledging our own mistakes and shortcomings; and restoring connections and trust with those we've wronged (which is what authentic apologizing is all about) are essential qualities of mature relationships and living a fulfilled life.

However, the problem becomes when we start apologizing for who we are. When we're telling our readers that we're sorry for not posting more, or not dressing more blog-worthy, or not participating in a challenge, we're communicating that we're not good enough, and our blogs are not good enough. We're putting ourselves in a position to be judged. We're essentially saying, "I'm bad; it's my fault; don't hate me; don't leave me." I hypothesize that so many bloggers over-apologize because they're afraid of losing followers. In their eyes, losing a follower means they've failed. And who wants to be a failure?

There's nothing wrong with explaining to readers why you skipped a few days of blogging, or why you chose not to do a challenge, or why you're dressed more casually than you normally do. But unwarranted over-apologizing positions us as subservient and hurts us. It can make us feel indebted to our readers and less powerful over what and how often we post. In addition, over-apologizing to your readers immediately puts their happiness at a higher level than yours. It creates a divide: the needs of your readers are 'right', and your own needs are 'wrong.' This leads you to you to feel remorseful for your perceived "inadequacies." The quality of our life depends directly on the choices we make and how we act upon them. Part of the process of building healthy self-esteem comes from making your needs a priority and not being apologetic about them.

When I started blogging, I didn't do so to attract a million readers (though I am THRILLED that you all are here.) I don't blog to be competitive, and I don't blog out of a feeling of obligation. I blog because I want to. This blog is, ultimately, for me - a place to write about topics that interest me, share my thoughts with the world, be part of a community of people with similar ideas, and have fun. It's my space, and it's up to me to set the rules. If I want to post every day, I do. But if I miss a day, so be it. I recognize that my real-life activities and relationships are far more important, and there's no reason for me to apologize for it. None of us should feel we must say sorry to our readers for having a life outside our blogs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a day, or week, or month off. And, in that vein, there's nothing wrong with not participating in a challenge, or not having regular features, or not constantly updating your layout. It's your blog - do what you want, when you want.  Ultimately, your blog exists to make you happy. And that's what matters the most.

And now I ask you: Have you ever felt a need to apologize to your readers? Do you believe bloggers over-apologize out of a fear of losing followers, or is there something deeper going on? Have you ever struggled with apologizing too much? Do you believe you owe your readers an apology when you miss a day of blogging, or aren't participating in a challenge?



Thrifted vintage silk blouse; thrifted Armani skirt; thrifted vintage Coach satchel; Target belt; MIA clogs; Dolly Python leather cuff; World Market Catholic saints bracelet; Forever 21 pendant









32 comments:

  1. love this white and pale yellow combo! it almost gives the white on white effect - which i think it so chic!! you look great!

    ReplyDelete
  2. As much as our blog is our own space where we are free to express ourself, it is also a commitment to others. To the people we invite into our sacred place. It isn't about gaining or loosing followers. I hope! It isn't a popularity contest either, who gets more readers, clicks, comments nad the perks that come along with having a sucessful blog. I consider it my duty to have a blog with substance, something my readers can discuss, learn something new and reflect upon. Othervise I'd just tick that box in blogger that says the blog isn't open for public.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Cute, cute casual, summer style. Your take on women apologizing is 'right on', I apologize when I miss a few days...why???? I'm the type of person (sad to say) that when something goes wrong I, immediately, think "what did I do?" I want everything to be perfect, everyone to be happy...but almost all of the time I had nothing to do with what others are feeling.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You look do delightfully summery! I agree with the over-apopogising epidemic. I'm trying to look at my blog as a journal that I can look back on when I'm old. I'd rather it be a true representation of what I wore and who I was. Even if that means that I don't post sometimes or am too lazy to catalogue every outfit. I don't want to apologize for being real and being who I am in this exact moment. Thanks again for another thought provoking post!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, I apologize all the time just for being who I am. I know I shouldn't. I know I should like myself more. And I'm working on it.

    I do apologize on the blog a lot when I'm not able to comment on others' blogs, because I want them to know that I WANT to comment but can't for the time being for whatever reason.

    You look beautiful in these light, fresh colors. The belt makes me happy! Belts always make me happy. :)

    Come take a look inside A Working Mom's Closet

    ReplyDelete
  6. Excellent Post! I am so glad to have recently discovered your blog because you often have very insightful posts that are relate-able. I do not have many "followers" so i don't feel it necessary to apologize for missing a few posts, however I am Canadian, so you can imagine how much I apologize EVERY day!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am guilty of the occasional apology for random reasons. But I try to keep it to a minimum because I find it annoying when all I read on a blog is "sorry for this or that".

    ReplyDelete
  8. I usually don't find a fault until someone points it out to me, so apologies kind of have the opposite of the intended effect: they point to their perceived flaws (whether they are actually flaws or not).

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have definitely been guilty of over apologizing, but not on my blog. But just because I don't say it doesn't mean I don't feel it sometimes. The biggest challenge for me blogging has been to let the blog reflect me and not me live my life to have something to blog....how crazy is that? I don't want to get up in the morning and think, "What would look good in a picture?" I want to just be me. Great post and great thoughts. None of us women need anything more to put in our insecurity baskets....they seem to fill up without our trying! Hugs to you! ~Serene

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've thought about this issue a lot, because self-deprecation is sort of my default mode. While I don't want to lose that aspect of my voice, completely, I'm trying to be more aware of the pitfalls. I've apologized for poor photos. I've almost apologized for being a "square peg in a round hole" blogger. I've even thought about apologizing for being TOO apologetic! How messed up is that????

    But I've vowed to NEVER start a post with "sorry I haven't been blogging lately." I'm an unapologetic weekly blogger, if that, and do believe it's best to start your posts from a point of strength, not weakness, to make the readers want to keep reading. Thanks for giving us some food for thought!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Very well said, lady. If all our blogs were all the same, it would be SO BORING. Picking and choosing what to write about, why, and when is part of what makes the community interesting, varied, and vibrant. Don't apologize, just do what you want and be yourself!

    ReplyDelete
  12. i love the colors of this outfit and that satchel is perfect!! i've actually had to catch myself from apologizing too much on my blog too.

    cute & little

    ReplyDelete
  13. i'm sorry but this post really made me happy:) hah! so witty am i! you look great in these pale colors...i really like your variety of colors and styles and posts!
    aleisha
    cutefatandshort.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. I haven't posted on my own blog for two months. I guess I figure I need to apologize for all the reasons you mention, but wouldn't the few readers I have be happier to see a real post than an apology one, even if it takes longer? I've also discovered I get more joy out of reading blogs than writing them. So I'll just be an occasional blog writer, and a frequent blog reader.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I think I do apologize too often. I am an attorney and I work in an office full of guys. They hardly ever say the word sorry. It's very interesting to me to think about why that is. Thanks for the insightful post!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great post! I have mixed feelings about this because I think that many women do this to relate on some level and be real. Commenting is a bit of an issue for me...why do some bloggers not comment back with a "thanks for stopping by my blog today" or "hey there, nice to meet ya"...or just a "thanks"...I myself would apologize for that because I want people to know I appreciate the time they took out of their day to read about me!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I completely agree with this. And while on occasion I will give an all around I'm Sorry for whatever I think we all need to be a little more accepting of ourselves and realize that of course life gets in the way. That is only normal. It would be worse if we just punched things out like a machine - I think that would show a lack of heart and soul in what we were doing. - Katy

    ReplyDelete
  18. um, YEP. I agree. whole heartedly. In fact, I just wrote up a long-A blog post on people pleasing in the blog world. Not sure if anyone can handle it, but you of course. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. I find myself apologizing every so often. I just feel completely out of the loop and left behind when I disappear for a week or so. I only really apologize when I disappear and don't give an explanation for leaving. At least I THINK that's when I apologize online.

    In person, I apologize for being in peoples ways and all the small things. I just think its polite but maybe that's me :) I don't apologize all the time but I do when I feel like I might be slightly an inconvenient to someone. Not sure if its the need to please but more that there aren't that many nice people in the world and I want them to know that I do notice.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am not one to apologize over small stuffs, only big stuff- like if I ran over your cat. I do feel irritated when I face a constant barrage of blog apologies- why the need? Nobody ran over any kitties!

    Vanessa of My Heart Blogged wrote a similar post and I love it! WHY? She came right out and said, that the apologies were moot and needless and annoying. I agree with you that women tend to not only over-apologize but apologize needless over the wrong things- like infrequent outfit posts. Waaa. Nothing kills my interest like a post starting out with the words "I'm sorry," followed by a trivial lack of action.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have literally stopped reading blogs after these sorts of apologies posts. I applaud you for addressing this issue and couldn't agree more that it's just unnecessary!

    ps I have those same clogs and love them. They look adorable on your, so cute and ready for Spring :) x

    ReplyDelete
  22. I love this and I definitely agree...many people (not just women) over-apologize like crazy. One of my coworkers is notorious for this and I had to go a little tough love on her and tell her she didn't need to be sorry and that it was a little off-putting. I don't think bloggers have anything to be sorry for...sure many of us feel a responsibility to our readers, but it's our blog, and we only have our own expectations to actually answer to. If you have to skip a day, you skip a day. No apology needed.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hey there. New commenter and visitor by way of another blog. No, I don't apologize. If I sense the words wanting to be typed on the keyboard, I find another way to phrase it. What am I apologizing for? I didn't poke anyone in the eye. I don't check the date to see if someone's post is current. I just got out of another blog, reading that she is 16 wks. After clicking around I realized I was a month behind. So that's another thing, followers pop in and out and there are always new people. If any of them wondering if I wore an outfit TODAY or if I wore it 5 days ago, they have waaaay too much time on their hands. I appreciate whatever people share, whenever. And wrote about this topic at the bottom of this post. Off to add your link to it. In closing I'll say that anytime I see sorry, I just click out of it. Don't need the downer.

    Sorry so long.

    Juuuust kidding!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I love the outfit and how happy you look in all the pictures :)

    This is a really interesting post, I think I'm guilty of doing this quite a lot, I guess I compare myself to other bloggers and don't feel quite as good as them...but I really need to stop doing that. Thank you for such a positive post! xxx

    ReplyDelete
  25. I always appreciate how thoughtful your posts are, Elissa! Look forward to seeing you Saturday!

    ReplyDelete
  26. What a pretty Spring outfit! I love the simplicity.

    I don't have a blog, but sometimes I apologize in Comments, esp if I think the blogger might dislike my comment for being too long! It's silly really, why am I apologizing for commenting on their post? Don't bloggers want feedback from their readers, even if it is long?

    My personal life is the same story. I apologize WAY too much. My husband has pointed this out many times. I'm doing my best to rectify, women are simply trained to apologize. I have drastically reduced my apologies in the workplace though. Over apologizing definitly reduces any power that you may have in your organization.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I actually wrote about this a few weeks ago (here is the post if you're interested
    http://www.myheartblogged.com/2011/04/why-you-should-stop-apologizing.html). I feel like we do over apologize. I don't think it helps a blog, and I understand that people's lives can't revolve around their blogs. We are human, and can only do so much. In my "real" life I am working on how much I apologize, especially when there is no reason for me to. It's a habit I've had since I was very young.
    My Heart Blogged

    ReplyDelete
  28. Great post and a great point. I think bloggers feel a connection to their readers and want to keep them happy. I apologized for the Blogger crash that happened Wednesday to Thursday because it kept my posts from going up and allowing me to comment. I didn't apologize for when I had two family members pass away in January, I just wrote a post explaining what was going on in my life and that I wouldn't be posting as frequently. Readers come to your blog to great reading and come to expect a certain consistency. If for any reason that isn't happening they may feel neglected. I think if you are constantly apologizing that's off putting but if something happens out of the norm then a minor post to be like "HEY I'm here, this is what I'm doing" is nice.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Oh man!!! I was going to tell you all about Vanessa's post on My Heart Blogged. She touches on this subject too. But she's right there, commenting above me, lol.

    I totally agree and have apologized twice on my blog and now when I write that I'm away I make a conscious effort to not apologize. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Found this as an entry for LALM for IFB! I hope it gets on the list b/c this is a very helpful post. If anything it serves as a reminder that we should blog to make ourselves happy first!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I don't find myself apologizing but I do compare and feel that I'm falling short-(pun intended, lol) Working on it and getting better at being comfortable with myself and my style. No two are alike, right?

    ReplyDelete
  32. I just saw your post featured in Link Love with a Twist, and I have to say - this is brilliant! I've been guilty of this, too, but you're 100% right when you say, "unwarranted over-apologizing positions us as subservient and hurts us." It's also very interesting to hear that women apologize more than men. The other day I found myself apologizing to a waitress for all the questions I was asking. It was just silly! Like so many other women, I just need to cut myself some slack!

    ReplyDelete

I love my readers! Comments are welcomed and appreciated.