20 Things That Women Should Stop Feeling So Guilty About

I am the kind of person who will say sorry upon bumping into a pole. I will also follow up an assertion of my opinion with a “sorry” if someone disagrees with me even slightly. My frequent use of the word “sorry” comes from a deeply rooted fear of being an inconvenience to anyone or imposing myself where I feel like I don’t belong. In other words, it comes from guilt.

A few years ago, I came across Joan Didion’s essay “On Self-Respect,” which changed my relationship with guilt. In her piece, Didion writes, “Character – the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life – is the source from which self-respect springs.” Reading her words forced me to realize that feeling guilty about the things that made me myself was not only self-defeating, but also self-denying.

I am not alone. Countless women express feelings of shame over not meeting up with social expectations when it comes to their careers, looks, relationships, opinionsthe list goes on and on. Guilt is a toxic emotion, and much less forgiving than remorse or acceptance. While it’s pervasive, you can tame it with self-awareness. From wearing makeup to saying no, here is a list of things that should never make women feel guilty.

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