Just No

You are not “Just”

You are not “Only”

You are a complete being deserving of love, honor, and appreciation for exactly who you are.

I once had someone tell me that their most detested words in our common language are ‘just’ and ‘only.’ They implored me to remove them from my vocabulary. I have not succeeded in that (yet), but at their constant insisting, I became much more aware of these words and the way I use them.

It began when they noticed I used just in a dismissive way when discussing my feelings. There is a big difference in saying “I felt abandoned” or “I just felt abandoned.” Do you see it? Do you hear it? There is power and conviction in the first statement. There is apology in the second. A life wrapped in concession is not a life well loved. Just is an aside, a way to downplay whatever we’re talking about. But when we use it to describe our life, we devalue ourselves.

For most of my years I have lived in a world of just. I just wanted to say something, or just wanted to be included, or just thought you’d like to know, or just did my work. I presented myself as if my words weren’t significant, but maybe someone would listen; as if I knew nobody would choose me, but maybe I could join in anyway. I offered my feelings as if they were confession and discarded my efforts as an expected endeavor. With one little word I made myself less than those around me. It was damaging to the image others held of me, and to the one I held of myself.

Once my use – or misuse – of this word was pointed out to me I find myself stopping in the midst of conversation to correct myself and remove just from my statements. I began to hear it from others in a way I’d missed before. Soon I found myself admonishing them for using it as well.

I understand why we do it. When sitting at a table with people who make more money than we do, or have additional credentials and degrees, or a bigger house or family – it feels like we’re ‘just’ who we are. It’s our nature to compare. And it seems to be our nature (for many of us, anyway) to see first where we are lacking in these comparisons, rather than to notice our similarities. We build others up in our minds to have something we don’t. Maybe they do – education or financial stability or property. But what they have should never cast a shadow over what we have ourselves.

Don’t sell yourself short in the just. Don’t apologize for who you are. Your feelings are valid. Your thoughts are pertinent. Your life has value – exactly as it is.

If you use just because you feel like you’re at the beginning of your journey and this is a temporary state – great! Give yourself that goal. Keep striving, keep growing. But, how about changing “I just make minimum wage” to “I make minimum wage, but I’m working hard to learn more and earn a promotion.”

It took nearly 50 years before someone told me I was worth more than just. I don’t want you to have to wait that long. After so many years, that’s a hard word to crawl out from under. So I’m telling you now – you are not just anything. You are EVERYTHING.

Let’s change just to justification – it’s time for redemption.


Reflections at 200

This is my 200th post on this blog. 129,999 words have pushed from my fingers to your screens. That number sounds huge to me – for something akin to a public diary. And, yet, it feels inaccurately small. It feels as though I’ve been bloodlettering a thousand years (this is my new word for writing that feels like bloodletting). Thank you for being a part of this journey, whether it’s been for one post or all 200. You’ve allowed me to bare my soul, to cry on your shoulder, to shout in your face, to laugh at myself, and to question everything I do. Who I am today was built in the pages of this blog, and you are a part of that. Thank you for letting me blog all over you. Let’s see where we go next, shall we?

(is anyone else bothered by that word count? Could I not find ONE more word somewhere??!!)



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