Stopping the "I'm Sorries" and the "I Can'ts"


My students, kicking so much ass

Our first aerial session is coming to an end and with summer classes starting in a few weeks we’re looking to implement a few new policies…No saying I can’t before even attempting a trick and no saying Sorry for not having the strength, flexibility or guts to be able to do something.

About 90 percent of the time when a student tells me, ‘Oh man, I don’t know if I can do that…” they nail the trick on the first go. I know they can do it right from the start. I have no doubt that they’ll hoist their ass into the air, their hands will be strong enough and their abs will turn them in just the right way, but they never believe me.

They look up at the apparatus, reposition their hands over and over, start to pull up and stall. They’re telling themselves they’re going to fail before they’ve even seen what their body can do.

And if they aren’t able to do a trick it’s completely OK. But over and over when a student isn’t able to hold themselves up or complete a trick, they come down and say sorry. And I tell them – I don’t care if you never ever ever complete the trick, I care that you got up there and did your best and there’s no reason to say sorry.

If you came to our aerial class Irina and I would both tell you the same thing – when we first started training there were things we could not do at all. I couldn’t haul my ass onto the trapeze without assistance for months and she couldn’t climb to save her life. But we still showed up week after grueling week, continued to work at it for those tiny moments of improvement, and didn’t apologize when we were downright awful. We were learning, and if you’re learning something new you’re allowed to be unapologetically terrible at it too.

We need to learn to move with confidence and give things a shot, give OURSELVES a shot, without allowing those discouraging voices to enter out thoughts. Just go for it. Stop apologizing for not being able to do something and be proud of yourself that you showed up and gave it a shot.

Are you a Sorry-er? Do you start with “I don’t think I can do that” or to you try new things with confidence?

Also…my ebook comes out tomorrow!! Holy moly! Anyone else as excited as I am??

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  1. says

    I’m definitely guilty of apologizing for everything, and I need to work on stopping that. Whatever, vocal patterns. I’m really excited for the ebook!!

  2. says

    I have a tendency to quit things before even starting them just because I know they will be difficult. This post definitely hits home. Your general kickassery is mega motivational, though! I always enjoy reading your posts :)

  3. says

    I am SUCH a ‘sorry-er’ – I apologise for everything! Sometimes I have to stop myself apologising if I do something really well too – just because I’m scared of looking big headed! Haha

  4. says

    haha, it’s sort of embarrassing to see it written out like this but that TOTALLY sounds like me in circus class! Poor teacher, is what I’m thinking now (seriously, who wants to hear people say they can’t do something and listen to them apologizing for not being able to do something). I do actually fall on my head in very unelegant and sometimes painful ways much more often than most people in my class, but I guess it’s no excuse :) Thanks for the reminder and I’m going to try and stop doing that!

    • says

      I’ve fallen quite a few times too, but it’s all part of learning. Think of how many people are still too scared to even try a class! Aerial can be totally scary – showing up and just going for it is half the battle.

  5. says

    Once I was stuck in a silk so bad I needed one person to hold me up by my ass while somebody else climbed on blocks next to me to untie me. That was the last time I ever said “sorry” or “I can’t” in aerial. I figure if I can make it through that then everything else is a piece of cake.

  6. says

    Sounds all too familiar. Though I have noticed that people who say ‘sorry’ too much start to piss me off, so I try to say less ‘sorry’ myself. Plus I try to try more things. But sometimes it’s too hard (mentally).

  7. says

    I’m a total ‘I can’t do that’ person. Or ‘I won’t do that because that’s out of my comfort zone.’
    Just need to flick the switch in my brain which tells me to get my ass in to gear sometimes! You sound like a great instructor :) X

  8. says

    Great post that needs to be applied a lot more & great timing, I posted something very similar a few days ago but in the context of pushing ones creativity, regardless of ‘failing’.

  9. says

    I’m definitely all those things, but I’ve learned in yoga that if i try something once or twice just trying it – no pressure or anything – then soon I build up the courage and the strength to actually do it!

  10. says

    I do this a lot in yoga, and then find myself really surprised when I can push myself further or get into a difficult pose.

    In my real life, I often stall halfway up the rope of…er…life… (hooray for metaphor!) Of starting something cool, then freaking out that I might fail!

  11. says

    I am super excited about your ebook! I bought an ebook a few months back and was really disappointed with the content. Yours sounds like its going to be so useful!!

  12. Robyn says

    Great post. I think it’s a female thing to say “sorry” all the time, which is unfortunate. I like the new rule! And I’m learning aerial and pole too, so I appreciate knowing that if I keep at it and work hard, I have the potential to get really good!

  13. says

    you sound like an amazing and inspiring teacher! i love this post so much. i really think that women are taught to apologize by society for every little thing— taking up space, not being good enough, having a differing opinion, have *an* opinion. . . but you are right: we need to give ourselves a shot!

    “if you’re learning something new you’re allowed to be unapologetically terrible at it too.” that is golden advice—as a perfectionist i needed to hear that. thanks for posting this— i think we all need to believe in ourselves the way we believe in those we love.

  14. Allison says

    Hi Sarah! I know this is an old post, but I wanted to come back and comment on it. When I first read this, I was in a pretty big funk. I’m in grad school finishing up a degree that I don’t really love, and nothing in my life really excited me. I had been wanting to try hula hooping, but I was afraid that I was going to suck at it. Your post inspired me to go ahead and buy my hoop. Right now, I pretty much suck. lol But every time that hoop hits the ground, I pick it back up and start spinning it again. I keep reminding myself that its okay for me to suck right now. Every day I’m learning something new and getting a little better. For the first time today, I actually got the hoop to go from my waist to my knees on purpose. Thank you so much for being an inspiration to keep going. <3

    • says

      You’re welcome Allison! High five on getting that hoop going – I tried hooping and got it down to my knees but could never get it back up, so that’s awesome! On the degree front – I went to school for journalism mostly just to get a degree. I’m a better writer than I would have been without, but I realized quickly it was not the career I wanted. It’s always OK to change direction no matter what stage of life you’re in.


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