The Power of “Just”

Date: April 27, 2015

posted by Lee / Comments: No Comments / Tags: , , , ,

The word “just” is very small, but has a variety of meanings. Think about it, and just for fun see how many sentences you can come up with using the word “just” in as many different ways as possible. Here are some of mine:
1. I just bought a fabulous sweater.
2. I think he made a just decision.
3. She parked her car just within the lines.
4. I like to keep my room just so.
5. I was just trying to explain my side.
6. I’m just a mom.

I love language, and find it infinitely interesting that one word can mean so many different things, but the words we use so often become habit that we rarely dissect our own sentences to look at what we’re really saying. Twice this week I heard two people I care very much about describe themselves as “just _____” and it broke my heart.


When we use that word in reference to ourselves, we are diminishing our own importance, we are apologising for who we are and sadly, we do it all the time. My incredible friend who is doing a fantastic job as a single mom to three young children wrote on her Facebook page about how she was “just a waitress,” but how that job allows her to work the best hours to look after her family.


She is certainly not “just” anything and neither are you. Your job is what you do, not who you are. It is only one element that makes up the complicated entity that is you. We are the sum of all of our parts and none of us is ever one thing, as the word “just” implies.


So what would happen if we removed that “just,” If we felt secure enough in ourselves to say “I’m a waitress” and not fear the judgement of others? We should all be strong and proud of who we are, and though at times it can feel like we’re in competition with each other, we’re really not. There is no shame in living whatever life you find most fulfilling. You don’t need anyone’s approval and as soon as you embrace that idea, I know you’ll feel much more confident in yourself.


This week another wonderful friend of mine used sentence number 6 to describe herself and said she was “just a mom.” Being a mom is not “just” anything. I don’t even have kids and I understand that, but when I asked her why she identified as “just,” she said that she often felt inadequate in circles where everyone else was working full time. Our self-worth needs to come from other places besides our careers. Think of all the other things you do each day besides go to work. Think of all the other things you are.


We use this word all the time to undermine the importance of things and we aren’t even aware that we do it. I know that often when I get complimented on something I’m wearing I usually say something like, ‘thank you, it’s just from Express.’ See what that little word did? Let’s try it again- ‘thank you, it’s from Express.’ You see, two completely different responses based solely on one little word that changes the meaning of what I’m saying entirely.


How many of you do this too? The next time you’re tempted to describe something, especially yourself as “just” anything, try removing that tricky four-letter word and see what happens, not only to the sentence, but to your feelings.


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