Using the word “just”

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I was making a cup of tea in the lunchroom, when a new member of staff walked in. A few months previous, a colleague had complained to me that people generally didn’t say hello to each other when they passed in common areas. Since then, I’d made it a rule to try and say hello to people when seeing them, and try to make a little small talk.

This isn’t exactly something I relish, because generally I’m pretty awkward when it comes to socializing. I often have the tendency to say the wrong thing, or blurt out anything that comes to mind in an attempt to fill the silence as quickly as possible. That or I’ll laugh spontaneously as the nervous tension within me bubbles up. Today was no different.

The member of staff I was speaking to had only been at the organization since the previous week, so we started talking about her new role. She was an admin in one department and as it turned out, I was doing a similar role in my own department.

It was while talking about this that I put my foot in my mouth, “It sounds like we’re doing similar work, I’m just an admin too.”

Usually the conversation would have gone on from there, but this time was different. My colleague stopped me to call me out on my use of the word “just”. Immediately I saw my mistake. By using the word “just” I was diminishing myself and my role. That was bad enough. But by also making the comparison to my colleague and her role, I was disparaging her too.

My initial aim was to explain that we were doing similar work. But instead, by adding that one word “just” the message I sent across was, “We do similar work…and that work isn’t very important.”

When I realized what I’d actually said, I apologized and we ended up having a short discussion about negative self-talk.

Once I got back to my desk I had to immediately Google the use of the word “just”, only to be met with numerous articles about how the word can be diminishing when used.

“Could you just make me a cup of tea?” may sound like a mundane enough request, but at the same time it’s also saying the requested action isn’t really difficult. In that way it could also be sending the signal that it should be easy for the other person to do.

That doesn’t really matter when it comes to cups of tea, but could easily be annoying if asking a colleague at work, “Could you just write me a 200 page report and have it on my desk by tomorrow?” That word, “just” can change your request a lot.

I searched through my work emails and found the word “just” was a regular part of my vocabulary. I most often used it as a way to reduce the importance of my own actions or questions. “I’m just emailing you to ask for your help.” “I just recreated the entire website.”

In this day and age when we’re bombarded with emails daily, failing to respond is easy. I wonder if it’s even easier when you receive an email that is immediately diminished with the word “just”.

Am I reading into this too much? Possibly. But it’s interesting to me that I can be so unaware of my own negativity. That’s problematic.

This is potentially one of those mind blowing moments when you realize that everything you thought you knew about yourself is a lie. But I already knew I was pretty negative, so not really. However, it is kind of interesting to realize I was being negative when that wasn’t even my intention.

My main issue is that I can have these bad habits and not even realize them. That, is the power of negative self-talk. It blends seamlessly into all the other things we say to ourselves. So we can never understand why we suddenly feel bad, or are losing confidence in our abilities.

Even though the answer is obvious now: when you spend weeks telling people you’re “just an admin” or just an anything (“just a mom” was my colleagues pet peeve), eventually you’re going to start feeling worthless.

It’s amazing how one small word can have so much power. But at the same time, I know I have the power to cease using it.

After all, the word “just” is just a word.

Alexa, Write Me A Humourous Blog Post

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Remember 5 years ago when Apple released Siri and everybody thought it was amazing?

For 2 minutes.

Which was the time it took to realise that Siri:

a/ Didn’t understand what the hell you were saying half the time.
b/ Was embarrassing to use in public. “Siri, is my mole cancerous?” Continue reading Alexa, Write Me A Humourous Blog Post

Living with 5 Cats, 2 Dogs, 1 Bird, 8 Fish and 4 Humans


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Since I moved to America a few months ago, I’ve been unable to work. It takes months for a work visa to be processed and in that time I can’t leave the country, or do much of anything really. To save on costs, my wife and I have been living with her parents and brother.

It doesn’t matter as much as you’d think. Most houses in America are huge in comparison to the UK. Living with other people isn’t a problem. If you need some time alone you can sulk off to your own wing of the house and pretend that nobody is there with you.

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Ninja cat lies in wait to scare the crap out of me.

When it becomes a problem, is when you also have enough animals in the house to open a petting zoo. My wife’s family seems to collect animals like most people collect useless kitchen appliances. Instead of an ice cream maker they’ll only use twice, they get a new cat. Instead of a popcorn machine, a dog. When you have as many cats as they do, it probably seems like something you buy regularly. “Hey, don’t forget to stop by the store on the way home and get a new cat!” “Cat food. You mean cat food, right?” “No no, I mean a cat.” Continue reading Living with 5 Cats, 2 Dogs, 1 Bird, 8 Fish and 4 Humans

Adjusting to Life in America

Before leaving for a new life in America, I believed that moving here would be easy. Over the last two months I’ve found the adjustment to be anything but.

Numerous people back home told me how envious they were about my moving to America. To them, the idea of living in the USA reminds them of past holidays. Great food, good weather, good beer, cheap shopping. No worries. Continue reading Adjusting to Life in America

Children, Marriage and Saying “I Love You”

I can’t remember when it happened, but at some point in the past I settled on a few beliefs and values and they’ve stuck ever since. I think most people are like this, we hold an opinion about something and we never want to waver from it. The longer we hold that opinion, the less it becomes an opinion and the more it becomes a part of us. That belief makes us us. We can never waver from that opinion, otherwise it’ll put our entire identity into disrepute. Continue reading Children, Marriage and Saying “I Love You”

Returning Home After Travelling

After almost 4 years of travel, last week I returned to England, possibly for good.

The feeling is bittersweet. In many ways, it’s the end of an era.

We’ve all been there. Graduating from high school, or university. Leaving a job we’ve worked for years. Times in our life where we have to transition from one way of living to another. Continue reading Returning Home After Travelling

First World Guilt

I’m eating dinner when the thought occurs to me that somewhere in the world another person is dying of hunger. Soon I’m overcome with guilt.

Most often I try to push these thoughts from my mind. Those people dying of hunger are so far away that we’re disconnected. The fact I’m eating dinner has nothing to do with the fact they don’t have any. It’s not my fault and there’s nothing I can do.

As soon as the thought has arrived, my brain gets distracted and it’s all forgotten about. Continue reading First World Guilt

Random thoughts on life and travel.