I Don’t Need to Apologize

I realize I complain a lot for someone who doesn’t have real problems. They’re first world problems, which don’t count as real problems to a lot of people. I find that I often feel self-conscious and apologetic for thinking and acting the way I do; for being who I am, essentially. It’s true — I’m not a demure, deferential VN woman. I don’t lead a completely altruistic existence. I’m not a slave to family obligations and filial piety. I don’t do chores (at least not as much as I should). I’m not a morning person. I’m nothing like what a good VN girl should be. In fact, I’m as bad as a VN girl gets; I’m Americanized. An Americanized man is impressive, admirable, and desirable. An Americanized woman is the opposite of those things.

So what, I’m Americanized. I grew up in America. Of course I turned out to be an American woman, and damn proud of it. If my VN relatives had lived practically their entire lives in the U.S., they’d be Americanized too. They would think and act the way I do, maybe worse. They’d have my first world problems. They would feel entitled and superior and self-important. They would wear scandalous sleeveless tops. They would think that chores are a stupid and boring way to spend time.

In all fairness and as a disclaimer, I’m exaggerating for dramatic effect. VN isn’t the most oppressive place in the world for women, and its men aren’t all jerks. Some of them are helpful on occasion. And I’m really not so bad by VN standards; I’m actually fairly traditional, and docile enough. I’m just not a 100% traditional VN woman, and that’s okay. It’s also okay that I was worried about it and I’m no longer going to worry about it.

It’s important to have perspective, and to not be so wrapped up in yourself that you can’t see the big picture. But it’s silly to invalidate someone’s problems and feelings, including your own, because they might seem meaningless on some global, objective scale (if that even exists). Who’s to say what’s meaningful and what isn’t? My problems are real to me. My motivations and actions and reactions are a product of my upbringing and the circumstances that brought me to this point in my life. I don’t need to apologize for not thinking and behaving like a girl who was raised in VN. If I don’t feel like mopping a mansion, I’m not going to do it. And I’m not going to feel guilty or fret over not doing it. If people think I’m lazy, so what? I am lazy. Who cares if people think I’m a bad wife because I let my husband do chores so I don’t have to? So long as my husband thinks I’m a good wife — it’s his opinion that matters. And why am I obsessing about popularity and people’s opinions of me? Am I still in the seventh grade? Fuck that shit. I’m going to do what I want. I can complain if I want to. I don’t need to apologize for being me.

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A former corporate attorney who is now happily retired and does whatever she wants.

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