The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The "I'm Sorry" Complex

*NOTE: The Following is a personal philosophy that I have adopted over the past few months. I don't think you should adopt this unless you feel it could benefit from this kind of mental adjustment. It's definitely created animosity in a few of my personal relationships and perhaps even of a few of my professional ones. There is a strong risk that one who adopts the following philosophy will be considered arrogant, cold, and unsympathetic. The "Fuck It" attitude that comes with it isn't necessary, but it's sometimes a harsh reality that helps cope with a few of life's bull shit curve balls.*

Here at Des Moines a great deal is asked of a lot of people. Not just the Apprentice Artists, although this is true as well (I myself personally have two choruses, 5 full scenes, and a comprimario role in a 21st century opera) but there are also a few principle artists contracted for more than one role in this season, and the coaches, pianists, directing staff are all working long hours on multiple projects in combination with juggling their personal lives. The facts of life! No complaining, it's a blessing to be so busy in such a tough art form.

Whenever the workload is that aggressive, people are bound to mess up. It's just going to happen. Most people here are super human, but still have that trace amount of Homosapien DNA for them to screw up a little bit here and there. And, what happens when you mess up?

"I'm Sorry."

This word boggles my mind a bit. I've come to have a very adverse reaction to it. And for the longest time I didn't know why?

I'm Sorry...

Is it because it is a sign of humility? Or perhaps a sign of weakness that I dislike it? Or perhaps it's the excuse behind it...No, I think it's because the word seems to characterize oneself.

That is one sorry ass bear.

One of the definitions of sorry is:

"Sorry - in a poor or pitiful state or condition."

That hits the nail on the head for Ol' Yeargain. It's not the act of humility, or the apology itself, it's the self classification connotation that rings in my brain over and over. And, if you're put into a situation where you're bound to make multiple mistakes, say starting a new job, getting used to a new town, or in the case of opera, singing a role for the first time while juggling a bunch of other activities, you will probably say "I'm sorry" well over 100 times...that kind of brain washing that you do and say requires a lot of disconnect in order for this to not be solidified in your brain.

The only person who carries the burden soul look well is Wolverine...

Infrequency of apology.

I'm also a big proponent of not apologizing unless you truly mean it, and understanding what you are apologizing for, and to use it sparingly. Why? Because to me an apology is rather personal and it's demonstrating you have a chink in your armor, and that you are human and make mistakes, which is important in actually making you stronger: understanding your faults and short-comings and finding peace in that truth. However, if these words are used frequently, you will exist in these words and they will potentially manifest in your work.


The repetition of this word usually begs the question "but are you?"

Daaaaamn, girl. You all kinds of manipulative.

This comes off as passive aggressive. Frequent apologies that carry no real weight, with obvious context and tone being the carriers of intent. This is just begging for negativity, confrontation, and probably a generally negative presentation of my opinion.

Sorry Not Sorry

One of my favorite non sensical phrases that has been born over the past years is "sorry, not sorry!" An apology for a lack of actually not being apologetic. I find it hysterical.

I'd be pissed, but you're too adorable.

It's okay to not feel sorry about certain things. If you brought the best you can to the table and it's not perfect, you're now in the position of proclaiming that you're inadequate, which I don't believe to be true at all. You're more than likely not completely inadequate or otherwise you wouldn't be there....well, not always true, but generally.

my other issue with sorry is the usual involuntary response triggered when we flub something here of there, the automatic reflex. It just bothers me in general, no matter what it is. I'm not a huge fan of being a slave to anything; money, people, job and definitely not verbal patterns that could potentially cast a shade of weakness or ingenue remorse.

*Side Note: Don't think I'm referring to things like "I'm sorry for your loss." That's an extension of sympathy, a quality bestowed upon all humans and one necessary for being a decent human. I'm talking about the sorry wrapped in self.*

Carrying I'm sorry on your body.

As an opera singer/actor/performer, this idea about not apologizing with your body is brought up a lot. Walking into an audition (or worse: a performance!) and singing apologetically. It's a death sentence waiting to happen. If you're not confident of the product you're presenting, you definitely should not present it. I've dug my own grave with this more than a few times. It get's messy.

I'm sure people in business or even in lots of different fields have this mentality too, but I can only talk from my own personal experience. The manifestation of "I'm sorry" in your physical presence and or demeanor. It's something else. It's one of the basics they teach to people trying to acquire a potential life partner, because confidence is attractive and it's a quality that can be learned and acquired regardless if you are actually self confident. Attraction can get you hired, laid, and rich. Win win win. 

My problems with I'm sorry

Now, here's a bit of Ol' Yeargain for you...

As some of you may know, I was once in a committed relationship and engaged to be married. Long story short, it didn't work out and we are no longer together. It's not a touchy subject, so don't be worried that I'm pouring out my soul, it's just something that was a part of my life and something that shaped who I am. I have no regrets about it in the least. However, that doesn't mean I didn't learn from the experience.

When you're with someone for a while, you tend to get into a great deal of squabbles. Little arguments here and there usually triggered by mindless comments that hurt this or that persons feelings. (I believe I have a gift for it.) I got into the habit of saying "I'm sorry" quite a bit, and definitely demanded the same from her frequently. I'd even begin the argument just by yelling "I'm sorry!" Was I really sorry? Well, I don't remember, it was a while ago, but more than likely I wasn't. I just wanted the fight to be over and for her to not be upset with me anymore. I didn't mind "losing arguments" because I didn't care that much about it, and frankly, being completely passive about everything that crossed my eyes is one of the things that really decayed the relationship. Not to infer that we were "meant to be" and that I hold a grudge or feel incomplete, but the relationship might have lasted longer or more quality was to be had, or even perhaps we could have discovered that we weren't a good match earlier on and not had such a messy split. Perhaps, but perhaps not. However, I know that I did not like the passive person I became in those years of my life. The Ol' Yeargain then would not have the heart or the balls to do even half of the stuff he does now.

So, in conclusion, I've attempted to strike this word from my everyday speech. I'm trying to only use this declamation if I've done something where I feel forgiveness is necessary and that I truly feel repentant. Regret is a big, ugly cross to carry around, and frankly it's unnecessary. So, in order for me to keep away that big ugly cross, I toss off even the tiniest of "sorry monkeys" off of my back...if that makes any fucking sense.

What Do I like to Say?

I much prefer "I apologize."

"What the fuck is the difference, Ol' Yeargain?"

Actually, arguably nothing at all. But, on the other side of the coin, one is a state of being, and the other is a statement. If I truly feel regret for what I have done, I will always a appologize. Only a coward in the face of his own failures neglects apologizing for his mistakes.

Showing respect for the people that call you out on your mistakes, especially those who are in jobs that are required to do so is necessary. In these circumstances an apology is sometimes necessary, but most of the time a "Yes, sir" Or "Yes, ma'am" will do.

Mistakes are a part of the facts of life. They are impossible to avoid, and frankly they are the things that shape who we are. Our mistakes and how we fix or make up for them. It's our own little redemption saga.

Until Next time, don't be too sorry, and when you are sorry, make sure you mean it when you say it. And, of course...

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.
The Opera Bro

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