This is the third part of what I hope will be a continuing series on figuring out what it means for me to be a man.
(Because men do not apologize, right?)
To become a man, I think you need to admit your failings and bad decisions and then try to make things right. One of the ways of doing this is by apologizing to the people you have hurt, a part of the reparations you have to make. If you are a talented singer, you can put out a chart-topping single and call that that.
If like me, however, you are merely human, it might be a bit more involving. Unless there is something you can do instead of or on top of just apologizing, sorry will have to do. Whatever form the apology takes will, of course, depend on the nature of the wrongdoing and the dynamics that governed your interactions.
All this is very well and good. Now, how does one go about actually atoning? Just say it, just write it, just schedule a lunch or coffee date with the person and pour your heart out? And, even if you do, what is stopping that person from thinking you disingenuous? Why now? It becomes even harder when you say you are trying to be a better person. Everybody says that shit.
Again, why now? What is stopping them from thinking you are just trying to assuage your own guilt and repair your ego (the same ego that got hurt because of the bad decision you made, because you sure as hell are not doing this for the benefit of the other party, right *wink wink nudge nudge*?)
Is it ever too late to say sorry? I do not know. Aside from genuine remorse, for the serenity of our consciences, we also apologize to make ourselves feel better, and, most importantly to remind us of our humaneness, to try alleviate the pain we have caused. When things get especially hairy, it may be a combination of all these reasons. I know it is for me.
A close friend told me that if I am serious about being a better person, this is the place to start. Considering we all mostly come from somewhat conservative backgrounds that never emphasized open communication, this will be very hard for me to do. I recognize that I have a lot to do, but this alone is not enough. Guilt is a good thing, it means acknowledging you are a part of a wrong, but it is only useful as a starting point, not an end.