I'm a Liability—But I'm Learning to Stop Apologizing
Ninety-four miles, and an hour and 45 minutes. Plus time for parking, and then, of course, the entire ride back. I was told it was “no problem,” but to me, it was an entire Saturday. A Saturday in June, the best kind.
I felt myself swallow further into the passenger seat as I went on to consider the additional 50 minutes my appointment would account for, and how my boyfriend would be left to occupy himself while I was gone. I began to spiral, riddled with guilt, listing all the alternative ways we could have been spent the day if only I hadn’t needed to go to therapy.
Despite being told to not even think about apologizing again, I couldn’t help myself. I was unable to enjoy the morning or the ease of the long car journey. I punctuated the conversation with “sorry” and then a silent "sorry for saying sorry."
I looked down at the reminder on my phone for my one o’clock appointment. I decided that next time I should just take the bus (if I could face going alone, that is). I thought about giving up treatment altogether and how, despite having decreased my appointment frequency (to be less of a hassle), even this felt to be too much.
In March 2017, Queen of introspection herself, Lorde, reminded us that even she is not immune to the feeling of being a little bit too much. On “Liability," the second single from her Grammy-nominated record Melodrama, Lorde relives the loss of someone who “made the big mistake of dancing in my storm."
As her lyrics unfold over melancholic piano chords, Lorde invites us in to share in a feeling that is all too familiar: our fear that each of our somebodies will one day simply have had enough.
The artist recounted her thought process for the track in an interview with Radio 1’s Zane Lowe: “I had this realization that because of my lifestyle and what I do for work, there’s going to be a point with every single person around me where I’m going to be a tax on them in some way…I had a little cry and I was just like, ‘It’s always going to be this way, at some point with everyone it’s going to be this way.'”
We each have our storms. The ever-changing sum of our parts that we constantly want to apologize for. The bits that get in the way. The feeling of being a “liability." And it often exists because we consider ourselves through the lens of another.
Rarely are we explicitly told that we’re too much, but we start to convince ourselves that we are. We dread being told that the inevitable changes in our lives or our emotions are becoming just a little bit too taxing or that, frankly, our loved ones no longer have the time or energy to put up with us. In fear and anticipation of what may happen when we ask for what we need, we convince ourselves that we are asking for too much.
Whether it’s asking for an extra favor at work, calling a friend late at night, an illness, or even bad timing, that “I’m a liability” feeling thrives somewhere in the sticky depths between feeling as though you’re not enough and feeling as though you’re too much. But doing so can cause us to shrink ourselves and compromise what we need for the convenience of others, hindering not only our happiness but also our growth.
In “Liability," Lorde goes home “into the arms of the girl that I love”—herself. In this lies arguably the most powerful reminder of the importance of coming home to ourselves.
It is often in the moments of silence that come with heartbreak, loneliness, and fear that we examine ourselves most and finally look inward. It is in these moments that self-care extends beyond yoga and smoothies, and we do the harder job of asking ourselves, why?
"The song kind of ended up turning into a bit of a protective talismans for me," Lorde told Lowe. "I was like, you know what, I’m always gonna have myself so I have to really nurture this relationship and feel good about hanging out with myself and loving myself."
It is in these private moments of self-exploration that I have been able to unpack how I feel. It’s where I’ve learned to question why I recognize myself as a liability, and, more importantly, understand how that may make me a liability to myself.
When I feel "too much," I now ask myself these three questions:
●︎ Is this feeling going to benefit the situation in any way?
●︎ Could I be mislabeling genuine needs and priorities?
●︎ Am I being fair to myself?
I try to think of myself as no longer at the mercy of someone else’s convenience, but instead as a friend in need. In times of vulnerability, we become most prone to self-scrutiny despite being in need of reassurance and support. Rather than focusing on fear, I use this opportunity to unpackage myself and my needs. I try to be my own best friend.
For me, it is in these moments of introspection that I begin to take the time to understand what I need, and replace inhibition with the courage required to ask for what I need, whether it be needing someone else’s time and energy or my own.