Zia Hassan

Garden Variety Shame

My New Year’s Resolution is to accept my own apology.

I heard this rule recently: don’t speak to yourself internally in a way that you would not speak to a friend or family member externally. More specifically, this means no more calling yourself an idiot in your head. If you wouldn’t call a friend or family an idiot when they make a mistake, don’t do it to yourself.

I have this horrible habit that’s rooted in insecurity: I am embarrassed many of the things I’ve done and said over the years, and weirdly, sometimes it takes years for this embarrassment to set in. Maybe it’s that I feel I’m not smart enough, or woke enough, or good enough. I believe this is the act commonly known as dwelling.

Someone else recently referred to embarrassment that makes you hate yourself as shame. It feels shameful to even admit to being constantly ashamed.

And the dwelling feels good and bad at the same time. The process of dwelling feels a bit hopeful, like you’re going reach the bottom of the ocean at some point to grab some kind of magical pearl and all of a sudden you’ll get over whatever it is you’re dwelling on. But it has never (and will never) work like that.

Perhaps everyone second guesses their interactions. And perhaps those who don’t dwell have learned how to forgive themselves for their inevitable constant fuck ups.

Ultimately, shuffling experiences, interactions, and memories around in your head is part of the human experience, one that is common to everyone. It’s normal to feel shame. And maybe an apology to myself or to others is warranted, occasionally. But most times, it’s just garden variety shame. It’s constant apologies and no acceptance.

My New Years resolution is to accept the apology. There’s enough work to do without shame hanging around my neck 24/7. I’m going to reserve shame for the times where I really need it.

Otherwise it’s meaningless.