I’m Not Sorry for Living! — The No-Apologies Manifesto.

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.

— Henry David Thoreau

I was recently faced with a situation where I felt I had to speak up about something I was experiencing, and instead of keeping quiet in order to avoid any unwanted drama, I chose to be upfront with my truth at that moment, as uncomfortable as it felt.

My openness in this particular case caused the other person to completely shut down, which left me feeling sorry for the inconvenient way I can be, and second-guessing my decision to express my truth.

This little incident however, reminded me of something bigger, and far more damaging than one misunderstanding, a sort of boycott of the soul that many of us, creative misfits, face nearly every day. Something that I’ve experienced my entire life.

Throughout my creative journey, I’ve been repeatedly hurt by the sense of misunderstanding or rejection, or the labels that the world puts on the artists, the creatives, the rebels of the status quo, the highly sensitive, the soulful troublemakers, the inconvenient crazies and closeted geniuses among us…

… the looks of disapproval that the so-called “safe and stable ones” bestow upon the dreamers who choose to live beyond the norm by boldly and courageously honoring our truth, whatever this may look or feel or sound like, in each case — for trusting our WHY, and taking creative action on our WHAT, above all shoulds, woulds and coulds, this world imposes upon us, every single day.

Do you know what I’m talking about?

The slight embarrassment they — Matrix zombies — feel for your realness — as if your openness to life was a deadly virus they are too scared to catch, as if being covered in flesh and having fire in your heart, and burning burning burning, was such a terrible idea and we should all be cold reptilians deep down…

… the fear in their eyes as if your truth could bite. It makes me bark and bite, indeed. 

Speaking your truth is terrifying, yes. Not speaking it, however, is a slow annihilation.

In the end, if you truly value yourself, you’ll choose the kind of discomfort that leads to more life.

Growing up, I’ve often felt like the inconvenient child, the one who just can’t shut up and go play, the one with troublesome imagination who asks too many questions her parents have to apologize to strangers for: “But doesn’t God love all his sinner children too? Why is he sending them to hell? I wouldn’t do that my dolls. They’re beautiful.”

Although I’m now a grownup woman, trying to embody my truth every day, and living a life my previous naysayers would envy, some of these scars remain.

These wounds were made too soon, too deeply and too often. And they reopen with each blow I get for trying to speak my truth, or when I’m censored and rejected for my inconvenient too-muchness, or when I’m ridiculed for trying to be whole in a world that only seems to want my broken pieces.

Furthermore, I see these latent wounds in others, and I just want to kindly punch whoever deepens them, not knowing any better, moved by fear, or by the pain of their own wounds.

And there, in the burning heart of paradox, it’s hard to tell if you are being loved or kicked by life.

It’s hard to separate yourself from your emotion and realize that the way a person, an institution or a whole society reacts to you is NOT because of YOU, but because of THEM. 

We each are a sum of our OWN actions, we are what WE choose to do, think or tell, or live up to — not what others choose to do unto us.

I am NOT defined by your reaction, I am defined by MY action. 

But by our hurt we hurt. And through our truth we heal.


You know what I tell children now?

That they have superpowers, that they are beautiful BECAUSE they’re special, that they are geniuses in training, that they are artists on a mission, that their dreams are real.

And every time I see how big their eyes can get just at the thought of being superheroes, I feel the child in me starting to heal.

So here’s a sort of no-apologies manifesto I started scribbling a while back about the conflict that living your truth without apologies causes in those who don’t believe in their own power.

Whatever this truth may feel, look or sound like for you, at any given moment, in this intense, beautiful Book of Life we’re co-creating, let it be. Living your real story is worth your every breath.

If you have also, at some point, felt the need to apologize for your weirdness or creativity, your craziness or sensitivity, for your unique ideas and beliefs, unrealistic goals and dreams, heart choices and desires  — to a world that doesn’t get how you can be so profoundly affected by life in every dimension, please read/listen on…

Because when all is said and done, Art is our only chance to show what can’t be told and ink what we’re afraid to think, to face our demons and our angels, without letting either destroy us.

Click on the video to listen  — and/or read it all in full below.

Don’t you find it odd or rather upside down when you are tempted to apologize for having a dream to the non-dreamers, a heart to the heartless, a vision to the blind, for trusting yourself to the doubters, for having faith to the soulless, for practicing compassion to the cruel, for your straightforwardness and honesty to the cowards and liars, for your childish nature to the deadly serious adults, for bleeding passion to the dead?

Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Shouldn’t THEY apologize for giving up on their dreams, for silencing their soul, for agreeing with their fear, for settling for a life and a love that doesn’t bear their signature, for staying when they mean to leave, for leaving when they want to stay, for being too scared to trust, to dare, to invest enough heart, to create every day like they are fully alive and every fucking bit mattered?

Don’t apologize for being too much or for feeling things deeply, for wanting to change yourself, and then lives, and then maybe the world, through your gifts, dreams, ideas, as crazy, as mad, as impossible as they seem to those who cannot understand.

Apologize ONLY for the times you agree with your fear and want to give up.

The world needs more creative middle fingers and less polite I’m-sorry’s, more art and less apologies, more wild and less tame, more jumping from the highest cliff and less fear of falling or flying, more trusting your own gut and less bullshit excuses for living.

No! I am not sorry for dreaming, for believing again and again, like I’ve never been broken, for trying, for failing, for trying and winning, and failing and trying, again. For getting up eight times out of seven, not despite all my losses, but BECAUSE they each teach me to love myself harder.

I’m not sorry for wishing, for hoping, for knowing that the world can be touched, and then saved, through each person, each hour, each dream, and each word that comes out of our mouths.

I’m not sorry for my high sensitivity to the hurts, and the joy and the madness of life, for my idealistic realism, for the courage to stand up for myself and for others, with my heart in my mouth, with my gut in my head, with my knees, always shaking, a little.

I’m not sorry for the way I take wild leaps of faith, afraid of falling, oh yes, but even more afraid of not flying, because see, I’ve already lost everything I could lose, and found Me – the one I can’t lose.

I’m not sorry for being too much of myself and my power, for you.

Because less than too much of myself, is just not enough, it’s not worth it, for me.

I’m sorry for you, for your quiet, advanced desperation, that you’re blocking your own rush of blood to the heart, that you mistake your fear for common sense, your comfort for safety, your shallow existence for normal…

… that you will get to the end of your days without meaning a word, or walking your talk or facing your pain, without loving your life — HERE & NOW vs. settling for what doesn’t love you — THEN & LATER, without authoring your story, or learning to dance with your shadows, without being saved by your joy…

I’m sorry for letting YOU make me feel sorry.

And still, I am sorry I’ll pass way too soon, just like you, and this short human experience is too small to contain me, too brief to allow me to do all the good that I want, that I can, that I must.

But I will never, believe me, I’ll never be sorry for living.

O my soul, do not aspire to immortal life,
but exhaust the limits of the possible. — Pindar

Please, tell me in the comments, Time Traveler, what are you NOT sorry for?

Let us undo these lame apologies, keeping us hostages in someone else’s story, and then too tired and distracted, to author our own lives.

P.S. Are we connected? Find me on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter and let’s do wild things.

*****

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*****



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Comments

  1. Thank you for ‘writing your heart out’. There are no ordinary moments that are ever truly lived… they are quite rare, however. You share an abundance of lived moments… like taking the time to connect to the infinity of stars in the night sky, one at a time, one heart string at a time.

  2. What a beautiful post, Andrea!

    Many times throughout my life, people would say that I thought about things too much or that I felt things too deeply. Such comments were often said in the tone that indicated that I was doing something wrong. At first, out of being polite, I would keep quiet. Then with time, as I grew comfortable in my natural role of being a rebel, I realized that what they were really saying in between the lines was that they did not allow themselves to feel or think because if they did, they could not handle the pain.

    For many years, I so desperately wanted to be “normal” because it seemed easier. People who lived normal lives seemed not to struggle which at times I wanted because I always felt like my soul and heart were constantly on fire. But at some point, I don’t know when, I got over it and became proud of being so weird. I love that I feel things deeply.

    After all, it is us odd ones who change the world for the better! 🙂 Keep up the good work, Andrea! 🙂

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Thanks for your beautiful insight Dolce. I love the point you make. The fear of pain or even of greatness is at the root of this reaction — this public censoring of the creative rebel in us. The stakes of living a life true to yourself and feeling things as deeply as your heart commands you to, are too high for some.

      What they don’t see is how much more they lose by not letting life truly touch and move and shake them to the core. I’m glad you say you are proud of feeling things deeply. Not apologizing for who we are is just the first step. Being proud of it is the goal.

      Thank you for you!

  3. Phillip Ihlenfeld says:

    Dear feathered friend… Andréa, once again, well done! ~ Life, Love & ❤ART

    Strap me down… into one of those vintage electric chairs & amp up your “supercharged words worth their weight in gold” & throw the main power switch once, if not twice, but three times… feeding my hungry mind, body & soul.

    And by the way, thanks again for the much needed jumpstart “high-voltage jolt” in Life, cause one can’t get enough of your electrified words… they just don’t make them like the way they used too.

    P.S. She’s one of the most beautiful days ever recorded (audio), dressed to kill.

  4. Hey Andrea
    What an incredible gift of the heart…
    We are who we are…no ones approval or permission required!! I will listen to that
    often…have a kick ass kind of day!!!
    Blessings…Colleen

  5. Andrea,

    Your post couldn’t have come at a more apropos time: for the past 2 weeks, I’ve been wracked with self-doubt, shame, worry, and anxiety for feeling what I feel, reacting in the only authentic way that I’m wired to react, and then being punished for voicing that certain actions in others make me feel a certain way. Giving voice to what we think, feel, and are is poison to others who cannot and is the only salve for those of us who must. Each and every day, I pray that I will allow my feelings to wash over me like a wave, know that uncomfortable feelings, like the tide, will recede, and that when it’s all said and done, I’m nothing less than exactly what I’m supposed to be. I am trying to speak your mantra into existence so that it becomes part of my bloodstream.

    My question, however, is this: at what point, particularly in professional or work settings, must we just gut it up, or maybe more importantly, how much must one temper authenticity to earn a living, support our families, etc, without being compromised. One compromise seems always to lead to another that is deeper, and widens the fissures in being real, being authentic, being oneself.

    Thank you for your courage to live the way you do and for sharing it so openly.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Hi Judith,

      Thanks for sharing your story. I loved this: “Giving voice to what we think, feel, and are is poison to others who cannot and is the only salve for those of us who must.”

      Your question is very relevant. I don’t think there is a specific general answer. I think this can only become clear to each of us, in its right time. Just as when you hit a wall you know you can’t / won’t be able to ignore anymore and must find a way over, around or through it: when you become aware that gutting it up is no longer an option.

      I’ve had these moments throughout my life in different circumstances and scenarios. I knew I was at a crossroads the moment I realized that as painful and scary as both choices were: speaking up vs. not speaking — the latter became more unbearable than all the possible rejection and misunderstanding that the former can bring.

  6. Andrea – Very profound. I will listen to this many more times, it moves something deep inside I really need to explore. Thank you, Thank you – Val

  7. WOW….so much truth to this!! I have always considered myself to be a rebel (and proud of it!!) I have mostly always spoke my truth…..sometimes to be shunned by those more “proper” around me. And I never really gave a shit what they thought.
    So this is a breath of fresh air. I have shared it with others that feel the same way. Those in my tribe. Those that are not afraid to be themselves and live their art.
    BRAVO and may many more have the balls to stand up and speak their Truth…their Art!!!!!

  8. I cannot wait to start my adventure ..to create ,live & express my truth without apologies. This world was not created for chaos it was created for beauty, love, peace and freedom of the soul that has been locked up . Thank you for the reminders of the self
    ☮️🌍❤️

  9. Yes, I do find it rather upside down and it should be the other way! Thank you for this enlivening tug on the heartstrings.

    I am NOT sorry for writing this peace piece which burned inside of me for years. And I simply cannot (for one more second while my precious heart beats) be sorry that reading it may have caused angst for some who know me personally. It was too angsty for far too long to continue to keep bottled up, and only I could write myself free. And I DID IT! (With Rebelle Society’s awesome support to lean on.) 🖤

    http://www.rebellesociety.com/2017/01/25/tracystamper-stand/

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Hi Tracy! I absolutely LOVED IT. And I’m so glad you shared it.

      That’s the thing — speaking your truth will definitely make some people uncomfortable, but not speaking it will be the death of you. In the end you just choose what gives you and others more life. Glad that Rebelle Society could provide you with the platform for this truth. <3

  10. Thank you for sharing your Manifesto. I’ve been suppressing and conforming for so long that I now suffer from chest pains that Doctors can’t explain and that no medical machine can see. Thank you for this dose of reality, now hopefully I can get back to being me.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Hi Gemeaux. Sorry to hear about your condition.

      The body is so intricately connected to the mind and soul, it will be inevitably affected by our silence. Everything you suppress is but some form of energy stuck in your system. That’s why picking up writing or any other art or form of self-expression can restore health on many levels.

      Keep letting YOU be YOU.

  11. Madeleine Dubrovsky says:

    Dear Andrea, It’s not inspiration that I want or need because I am able to do that for myself but what I get from you each time is an affirmation that I am on the right track, that I am not crazy, that I have every right to create the life I want, I am not alone in wanting that and for this I say BRAVO, you are doing a great job!

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Thanks so much my dear!

      Yes — I know exactly what you mean. This reassurance is also worth so much to me. Inspiration comes easier — the feeling that you’re not alone doesn’t. Thank you for reaffirming me in return. xx

  12. This post reminds me of one of the songs off Beyoncé’s recent album, Lemonade. The album explores a woman’s experience of being cheated on. The song in question has a Lin e repeating over and over “I not sorry. I not sorry,” presumably for some kind of retaliation. It is a song of defiance.

    I apologize way too much in my own life. But I’m most not sorry for the times I’ve stood up for myself against abuse. The time I hit my mother back. The time I told my supervisor I’d scheduled a meeting for he, and I, and the dept head, his boss. The time I said no.

    Your post also reminds me of my girlfriend who drives me crazy because she lives such a loud and proud life. Oh, she is not sorry for anything! Mostly I’m like “good for her,” but I guess I am just overwhelmed by her sometimes.

    Keep living out loud Andrea. Live a big, loud life.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Now I have to listen to that song. 🙂 Guilty of not Beyonce’ing enough.

      I’m sorry to hear all the dreadful things you had to stand up to. And yet, the more dreadful, the more courage it was required of you. I love how you say, “I’m most not sorry” — such a rare thing to hear.

      Here’s to living a big, loud life, soul sister!

  13. Gerard Boyer says:

    Andrea, This is what I needed to read! My company made my role redundant after 26 years of service. They actually set me free. I no longer want to give anyone my whole life (it starts from 9am to 6pm and goes on with the stress in the evening and at night). I am not an artist but view my new life as a piece of sacred art. Whatever I do, teach yoga, write, play my guitar, or even go back to the corporate world for a period of time, I can tap into an infinite source of energy within myself and I never know what is going to happen. No plans! No expectations! No worries!
    I am between the cloud of forgetting and the cloud of unknowing. I wish to attend more to the wholly otherness of God rather than to my own misery.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Hi Gerard! So sorry to hear they acted this way. And yet, I’m not sorry about your newly gained freedom. 😉 You are right. Your life IS a piece of sacred art.

      Your last sentence is beautiful: “I am between the cloud of forgetting and the cloud of unknowing. I wish to attend more to the wholly otherness of God rather than to my own misery.”

      To live and create your life from this place as often as possible – that is all that matters.

  14. lowlanderjane says:

    I am not sorry for my intense, emotional intelligence. I do not have the ability to discover what is expected, nor do I provide it hopping for blind acceptance. Gaining face to further a career, a profitable relationship or some material comforts makes the sacred rooms that I inhabit deep inside my soul cold and hollow when I seek out my refuge for meditation and needed reflection.
    I am not sorry that I can comfortably exist beneath every surface manufactured and marketed as reality. I am glad that I do not have the means to transact the sale of all such disappointing unreality in all their shapes and forms.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      This was beautiful to read. Felt like a little declaration of independence. Thank you… I especially love the opening line. How very few appreciate and cultivate emotional intelligence.

  15. People who barely knew me or my past said, “you’re too sensitive,” or “you think too much.” When I was younger, I was surprised and embarrassed. (It was meant as a rebuke when they felt threatened, perhaps.) I didn’t know what to say. Now when someone makes that comment—it’s rare now—I say, “I’m not ‘too’ anything.I might be ‘very,’ but not ‘too.'” I’m NOT sorry!
    I’m not sorry that I’m intellectual, compassionate and intense. Or that people don’t understand why I hang out with people from all walks of life and choose to be far from home and unmarried, though my family and I love each other and talk all the time. They cannot imagine it. I don’t have to explain. That’s fine. I’m NOT sorry!
    A time when I tried online dating, and from a profile, men said, “You’re nice and pretty, but you’re too educated and smart for me.” I’m NOT sorry!
    I attend church and find my release there, with people, repeating our mantras, praying together, and I feel at peace and can cry. One friend doesn’t understand, saying, “You’re spiritual, not religious.” It’s okay. No one has to understand something as deep as someone’s connection with the Divine. I’m NOT sorry.
    I’m not sorry for being who or what I am. And I work at being grateful each day, promising myself to give to my art and not to judge and be patient with myself and others.
    Thanks for the post!

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Thank YOU, Marjorie, for sharing your non-apologies. I especially love what you say about being “very” but not “too” — there’s a HUGE distinction between both.

      “Too” requires comparison to a norm to which we do not wish to adhere. “Too” can only exist for those who try to control what chooses to exist beyond their idea of order.

  16. hi Andrea, I completely relate to what you have written about and I recently wrote a blog post about being a difficult woman – lisafitzpatrick.com.au/i-am-a-difficult-woman/ in which I declare that I am not sorry about so many things!
    Being a highly sensitive, intuitive person and battling with constant dark nights of the soul, the only way to survive and thrive is to own what’s true for us and to make a commitment to stay alive. The trouble with being so sensitive is that we often allow other people’s agenda to over-ride our own as we empathically take their thoughts and feelings on as though they were our own, and we second guess our own innate wisdom.
    Thank you for providing a safe place for the rebel visionaries and creatives.
    Namaste
    Lisa

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Hi Lisa!

      I love your post. Would love to feature it on Rebelle Society if you’re interested. More info about it here: rebellesociety.com/submissions (email to send it to: create@rebellesociety.com).

      Secondly, I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts on the danger of being overly sensitive. I am an empath too and sometimes my whole energy can shift due to embracing another person’s. Over time, I’ve learned to be more aware of this and distinguish between what comes from me and what “hijacks me” from the outside.

      Thanks so much for resonating and stopping by. Hope you can share your words with us on Rebelle Society.

  17. Thank you for writing this, Andrea. I’ve been doing the sorry/not sorry dance since I published my first book, a paranormal mystery. Many of my church friends were shocked, or even appalled, that I would write something that in their eyes went against the Bible and the teachings of the church. But I write out of my experiences, my questions, and my fears, and frankly, I’m tired of apologizing for who I am, what I’ve experienced, and what I write.

    • Leta Hawk says:

      Lol, and I just got an affirmation of this from a pastor friend.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Hi Leta! Thank you for sharing about your work and art. I wholeheartedly applaud your courage of honoring YOUR TRUTH and expressing your beautiful human experience above any institution or idea of what spirituality should look, feel, act or speak like through each person. Amen? 🙂

  18. I am not sorry for being sensitive. nor am i sorry for being “too positive”. why?
    because when you dealt with depression and you over came it you know you never want to go down that path again.

    I am not sorry for being in love with a women.
    i am not sorry for being happily bi/gay or what ever you want to label me.
    i am not sorry for loving soo deeply.

    i am not sorry one bit,

  19. Hi Andrea, the world wants to be blind to all that you say here because it shakes up the tribe and makes them feel unsafe. Those of us who step out of the status quo must be burned, or else their world will fall apart. Thank Goddess for the rebels, your voice is so important.
    I was told to write something more respectable, more literary, not erotica, nobody will publish you, writing is for retired people, blah, blah, blah. But my heart burned for the story that could only spill out like a river spills into the ocean. I have often read your words and wrapped them into my heart, and kept going. Thank you. And yeah, writing witchy erotica will always be my thing.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Hi Monika. Thank you for your reassuring words.

      The Inquisition is still all around us. It only changes forms over the years, but the spirit of repression is as alive, or more today, as it has been throughout history.

      I applaud you for following your heart and choosing the genre that makes you feel most alive. Because it is only out of this aliveness that you can truly touch and inspire other lives.

      The words of Joseph Campbell come to mind (this concept has deeply touched and shifted my whole life):

      “The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself.”

      xx

  20. Andrea, I’ve been following you for quite a long time and every single time I look at what you write it’s like reading what my soul wants to shout out. I’ve been feeling stupid and ashamed of being TOO MUCH, feeling TOO much recently. Been told how I overreact, I am too sensitive, weird and crazy..how I fail to ‘balance and be normal’. And then this happened, and this is exactly what I needed today. I don’t want to feel sorry. I am sorry for feeling sorry. It’s liberating to realise there’s more of us out there, longing to be me more. I love you for all that you are.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Hi Aleks!

      So glad to read your feedback. I hear you only too well, I’ve been told the same too much, too often and it’s become too unbearable to keep accepting it.

      Keep on feeling things deeply. Honor your sensitivity, your weirdness and craziness. They’re the most real thing about you.

      This just reminded me of something poet Ted Hughes told his son in a letter, one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve read, from a father to his son:

      “The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.”

  21. Andrea, I just read this for maybe the 3rd time in 2 days and it’s still giving me goosebumps.

  22. Andrea. this is very inspirational and motivational. It helped to read it.

  23. Jeff Klingseisen says:

    My old Soul friend.

    As usual your writings are provocative and reflective. Perhaps we should accept the Journey we have chosen to take has hazards of the heart. However our heart is stronger then most . We the Dreamers understand it’s the Love we embrace that drives our belief of truth. It is not the rational mind and all the great imperfect arguments that stimulate growth of our Soul. It’s the Journey of Love that creates Wonder of our human experience.
    We need not worry of judgement by others for growth is an intuitive exercise . Absorbing those Moments is our driver not judging others.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Thanks wise-r soul. I’m just now reading this comment and cherishing your words as usual. <3

  24. I’m not sorry for pulling his mask off.
    I am f r e e now; unchained.

    Lighten the load, begin from within.
    Be true to my precious self.

    Use my voice, chart my course-
    My sun’s a rising,now.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Thanks for these verses, Sharon. My favorite thing ever is when someone replies with a poem or a haiku. It makes my day. <3

  25. Before you post, we’d like to thank you for joining the debate – we’re glad you’ve chosen to participate and we value your opinions and experiences.

  26. Thank you for writing this article, Andrea. I am not sorry for living the way I want to. I’m not sorry that I want to be happy with the life I live instead of just surviving. Thank you for writing something that needed to be written.

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