When I was in high school, I used not to get along with my classmates. Not that anybody disliked me, but I was simply in a phase of my life when I was totally frozen both inside and out, and I just seemed to have forgotten how to speak normally with others. Every breaktime, I used to sit at my desk as quietly as a stone, trying to look like I was reading something. It is quite a challenge when you are frozen and awkward, but still have to be reasonably part of a room of 40 other active girls. All I wanted to do was to disappear completely.
But there was one situation where I could not really disappear: the physical education class. No matter how poorly I was feeling of myself, I had to interact with others in the physical education class.
One winter, we were working on the basics of basket ball, and we were told to break into a few groups and practice passing the ball. That instruction itself was a horror for somebody who was frozen and awkward, but I was saved by a few kind girls who invited me into their group.
We made a circle and started passing the ball. Each time somebody threw the ball, she called the name of the person she was throwing the ball to. Since it was a small group, my name was also called often, and I opened my arms to receive the ball. But I was so lacking in confidence that my movement was indecisive and I dropped the ball many times. I felt awful that I was disturbing the successful chain of my team.
Some time into the activity, I again dropped the ball. As I picked it up, I heard one girl say to me,
“Don’t apologize!” Her voice was fierce. “You say too many sorrys, girl! You don’t need to apologize to us!”
I looked up in surprise.
“Am I apologizing?”
“Yes, you are! Every time you pick up the ball!”
Shoot, I had not realized that.
“Sorry, I won’t apologize next time.”
“There you go again!” My friend laughed. “You just said sorry!”
It turned out that my auto sorry was my habit that I had not known existed. Until the girl pointed out, I had no idea how often I had been apologizing during the practice – and in my life as well as I realized later.
It was difficult to stop my auto sorry, but thanks to my teammates’ kind reminder, by the end of the practice, I got better at resisting my temptation to apologize. As for my auto sorry habit itself, it took years of healing journey before I could finally put an end to it.
The memory of our basket ball practice is remembered fondly in my heart. It was special that my apologizing habit was pointed out by my own classmates, and during that short time of practice, they surrounded me with their kindness and helped me to partially conquer my auto sorry.