“Hey, how’s it going?” “Good! How are you?” “Good!” …
“Sorry” is the most over-used word in my vocabulary. A few months ago, somebody told me I say “sorry” too much, and I immediately apologized. Now, I’ve broken it down, and there are two kinds of apologies that aren’t actually apologies.
- Things we feel bad about, but did not have control over.
In order for an apology to be meaningful, it has to satisfy both of these criteria: you have to be responsible for what happened, and you have to regret what you did. If not, you are saturating the market with meaningless apologies. The one thing I actually understand about Economics is that when there’s an excessive supply of something, the value of that good decreases. Another Peddie teacher told me about an apology email she received from a student last term, I’m going to read it to you, get ready, because it’ll be over before you know what hit you:
“Sorry about sleeping in class today (DNO)”
If we were playing The Price is Right right now, how much would that apology be worth to you? Sorry about sleeping in class, DNO - you just decreased the value of your apology.
In this way, words are similar to currency. We can manufacture as many of them as we want, but we need to remember – inflation applies. If you need a visual, think of Germany in the 1920s. They printed all this money to bail the country out of debt, and it became so worthless that people started using it as wallpaper, kindling, and toilet paper. It seems like a stupidly easy solution, but you can’t just print more money, and you can’t just say more “sorrys.” The real solution is to save your apologies for when you really mean it.
This idea leads us to Number two: Promises.
A lot of the talks you hear in this room are about saying “yes.” Just like groundhogs and robins, you’ll know it’s spring when nostalgic seniors start climbing up here to remind you, Peddie is an incredible place, take advantage of every opportunity, Carpe Diem… and they’re right. But the less glamorous flipside that doesn’t get talked about nearly as much is that it’s also important to learn how to say no to stuff.