TCK & Expat: Sorry I’m Not Sorry

Day 13, Monday of the Blog Every Day in May Challenge: Issue a public apology. This can be as funny or as serious or as creative as you want it to be.

I have had a bad habit growing up of saying ‘I’m sorry’ too often. Yes you should be able to say you are sorry. However someone would trip in front of me and my first inclination is to hold out my hand to grab them as I am saying ‘I’m sorry’, not that it was in anyway my fault they tripped over their own two feet. Having been born and grown up in England twice in my developmental years I have realized from moving back here as an expat that I am just very ‘English’. We apologize as a default reaction to any of life’s irritants. If someone else pushes into you on the pavement (sidewalk) or is at fault for spilling your drink at the pub you respond back with ‘sorry’. It is the currency of common curtesy.

Self Portrait by Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All rights reserved |

There are still many things that people apologise for in life for which I believe you should not have to apologize. This is my list of those things as a Third Culture Kid (TCK) and as an Expat. They are fifteen things that I have been misunderstood for or accused of by others including family. It is personal.

Sorry I’m Not Sorry…

…for the choices of my parents or my spouse.
The majority of my father’s long career in the USAF was spent on military bases overseas. My parents chose that lifestyle. My husband became the son my father never had and he chose to enlist in USAF for several years after we were married. I stand behind the choices of those close in my life. I do not have to apologise to others for being their reason for it was their choice.

…for pursuing happiness.
Leaving jobs, transferring my kids from other schools, and moving across the globe to live an Expat life. For doing what I really want to do and living where I really feel most happy.

…for crying.
Being able to release the stress and express my self in mascara ruining tears is part of life. It is not a sign of weakness.  I would also like to add ‘grieving’ to this following the loss of my father.  I had to do it alone away from the support of family.  It is human emotion.

…for being loud.
I have in laws who do not understand the way I parent, the way I teach, or the way I react if you begin a fight with me about my family. Having spent a significant part of my childhood in Italy it is ingrained in me to get loud and passionate in the many facets of my life. It does not mean I or the culture I grew up in have anger problems. ‘I’m not yelling, I’m Italian’.

…for finding happiness.
Before we moved to back to Europe I was not fully happy nor content. I was told by many that my need to return to Europe was to connect back to my childhood. They said if I was unhappy in the United States (the country of my parents origin, not mine) that I would still be unhappy in Europe. However my husband and I both found a sense of happiness that we have not experienced in so many years anywhere else. We are complete. I am in the right to say ‘I told you so’ but I should not have to do so.

…for being frugal.
I shop for hidden gems in thrifts stores and Saturday markets. I look online on amazon or ebay for cheaper alternatives than the stores. As much as I love to shop I seldom actually buy something for myself. It does not mean I am cheap. It means I know how much is in our means and it is my way to give my family all that they want without blowing it all on something costly and materialistic.

…for demanding respect.
Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself when no one else will. I never wish on anyone to be treated the way I have been as a wife and a mother by my in laws. Stand up for yourself and request the respect you deserve. Anything less is doing yourself and your family disrespect.

…for decisions made.
Never apologise for decisions you make, even if others do not understand or agree with you. Whether they end up being good or bad ones, as we learn from our mistakes. You are the one who has to live with the consequences, not other people. Follow your heart not their judgements.

….for changing your mind.
It is your prerogative and you should not continue to think or do something if through life you find yourself changing. Evolving is a human process.

…for someone else whose having a bad day.
People tend to attack others, point fingers, or make negative judgments at others when they themselves are dealing witha lot going their life and are essentially having a ‘bad day’. Do not feel you have to take any of that personally nor make excuses for their behaviour. Go ahead and unconditionally love them back but do not make excuse or apologise for it.

…for being honest.
I am well aware that I may have much different views in certain or many aspects of life when talking to someone who grew up elsewhere in life. It is okay to be different. It is not okay to be dishonest. Standing up and being yourself is different from not accepting people of different cultures or backgrounds. You should not have to apologise for being true to who you are.

…for not tolerating bad behaviour.
If we are out my husband and I request the same behaviour and attitude of my sons that we would want in the home. I should not have to apologise for parenting when I am in public. I am raising future adults, not adult children who will be entitled and think life is easy and just.

…for being inexperienced.
We as humans are always learning and always growing. We do not automatically become the best of the best when we embark on new paths or try new things. It is okay to be a beginner and you should not have to apologise for making mistakes or not being as experienced as others in the same subject.

…for saying how you feel.
You do have to show respect and courtesy when you do. But remember that someone people just take things personally whether you are polite or not.

…for where you come from.
I cannot easily answer that question but I can start with not apologising for it or the many cultures that have made me who I am today. Yes I may think, say or doing things differently than what other Americans who sound like me would expect. But it is because of my nomadic childhood in Europe and that makes me different not wrong. Whether you are a TCK or come from a town in California you should not have to apologise for it.

‘Sorry I’m Not Sorry’ conclusion:
I end this by saying the majority of personal conflicts I have had come from interactions with my husband’s family. Minor ones come from trying to assimiliate into American culture as an American who was raised abroad. If you are a Third Culture Kid who has moved to your parents home country or culture you may feel you have to apologise for every facet of your personality and life. Be courtesy and polite but do not let others make you feel like you have to apologise for who you are. Trust me as someone who has had the majority of my personal conflicts come from my in laws you have to stand up for your identity and your family. It is too easy to just pass judgments it is harder to accept the differences in others. Differences scare people. Hopefully by being strong and giving it time those who make you feel sorry will see the beauty in you.

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*photographs found here either belong to Bonnie Rose of Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All Rights Reserved | 

  • Jessica Lynn

    So…can I just copy and paste this on my blog? I apologize for so many things, or feel bad for so many things and it’s completely unnecessary. Great take on this prompt.

  • hemborgwife

    I loved reading this and I related to the one about finding happiness. When we moved so many people (Swedish people that is) criticized my husband for moving back to Sweden from California as if he could not be happy there he obviously had a problem. It was so hard to see him coming home from work so wore down by close minded people, finally one day he realized it was most likely just jealousy and stupidity from them and not him.
    O yeah and in laws are just the worst…

  • Tammy Jorrak Cagle

    Love this B!
    My issue is the opposite..well that’s what i hear 😉
    No one should apologize for being them..xox

  • Casey Martin

    Great post… loved reading it :)

  • themovetoamerica

    I relate to not having to say sorry about choices and the pursuit of happiness – as I embark on my journey to the US I get asked and even chided by people (some in my family) about how my choice is selfish or they cannot understand or dislike that I am moving away from my family to be with my husband. I never really understood until reading your post today – I guess it boils down to having the courage to pursue happiness and not apologise for that fact and maybe they wished they had … Thanks for this post, I found it really useful. Mine is nowhere near as useful as it is about dead goldfish and swearing! 😀

  • Susanne

    Wow, I can really relate to all of this, in a different way than your ofcourse. Being a TCK myself, I find myself doing all the things you wrote. So glad I found your blog!!