This is How Beyoncé Taught Lena Dunham to Stop Saying Sorry
Anne Hathaway isn't the only star who can't stop swooning over Beyoncé's musical prowess. In an essay that Lena Dunham penned for LinkedIn Wednesday, the Girls creator and star revealed she learned a major lesson after listening to and watching the Lemonade visual album: to stop saying sorry so frequently.
"Beyoncé's "Lemonade" was a massive cultural event for a lot of profound reasons, not least of which because it gave women a melody to which they could sing the words "Sorry, I ain't sorry," again and again (and again)," she began. "This refrain immediately became the stuff of Instagram captions and yearbook quotes and screaming, drunken bachelorette parties: partially because it's catchy as f**k, but also because it allowed women to express (safely, while pretending with all their might to be Bey) just how sick to death they were of apologizing."
Dunham went on to call apologizing "a modern plague," adding that she would bet women said "sorry" more than they said "thank you" or "you're welcome" on any day. The actress also referenced the many times she has said sorry, especially after she became "a boss" on Girls at the age of 24. "While my commitment to my work overrode almost any performance anxiety I had, it didn't override my hardwired instinct to apologize," she continued. "If I changed my mind, if someone disagreed with me, even if someone else misheard me or made a mistake... I was so, so sorry."
After a nudge from her dad and a little Lemonade (natch), Dunham was ready to put those "sorry" days behind her. "It was actually my father who gave me the challenge: 'What would happen if you spent this week NOT apologizing?'," she continued. "The next day I tried to accept his challenge. But what do you replace sorry with? Well for starters, you can replace it with an actual expression of your needs and desires. And it turns out when you express what you want (without a canned and insincere apology) everyone benefits. Your employees know what you want from them and can do their jobs with clarity and pride. The dynamic remains healthy and open. You feel 79% less shame (there's 21% of human shame that's just baseline and incurable, right!?)"
Of course, Dunham isn't advising anyone to stop apologizing altogether (sometimes you need to say sorry). "Mind you, I am not negating the power of a real apology, especially in the workplace," she went on. "One of the most important things a person in charge can do is own their mistakes and apologize sincerely and specifically, in a way that shows their colleagues they have learned and they will do better (I'll try, OK!?)."
"I won't say my father's experiment cured me," she continued. "After all, I've been apologizing profusely since 1989—like pigs in blankets and reading celebrity gossip, it's not a habit easily broken. But it illustrated a better way. Something to strive for. When I replaced apologies with more fully formed and honest sentiments, a world of communication possibilities opened up to me. I'm just sorry it took me so long."