Category Archives: Depression

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.

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Serious Chats Podcast: Are You Having An Existential Crisis?

For my second podcast, I decided to speak with a good friend, George. When I asked what he’d like to talk about, he said existential crises. Which was great because it’s something I’ve written about on my blog in the past. Multiple times.

Funnily enough the podcast caused its own mini crisis. When I was coming to the end of editing it, I realised the sound quality was nowhere near what I was happy with. The thought of uploading it was almost too much to bear. Surely all my friends would laugh at me and think I’m a useless amateur. I should just quit the podcasting business right now.

Then I remembered that I am an amateur and it’s only my second podcast…so I decided to go a little easier on myself. I’m sure the quality will improve. Plus, in 100 years nobody will give a shit anyway! One of the benefits of thinking about your own pointless existence.

Anyway, if you listen, tell me what you think. Have you ever experienced an existential crisis? Do you know how to pronounce the plural of crisis (crises?) because I sure don’t!

Listen to the podcast on my website or through the links below:

Soundcloud | iTunes | RSS

On Goals and Life Problems

It’s been almost three months since my last blog post.

I’ve been feeling uninspired. Low on energy. Lacking the motivation to write.

A voice in my head speaks:

Uh oh. I know what that means. You’re not doing too good, Dan.

I agree.

Moving to America has (and continues to be) one of the biggest challenges of my life. I thought it would be easy. But I overestimated my resilience to tough situations.

While I was back home in England, I was pretty miserable. Working a job I hated – nothing meaningful on the horizon. I turned 30 and realised more than ever that I was years behind my peers in terms of wealth, status and generally sorting my life out. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been waiting for years for my life to actually start.

When you’re in this position, it’s easy to fall into a trap.

We focus on a goal in our future and we believe it will unlock every problem in our life: Continue reading On Goals and Life Problems

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

Motivating Yourself to Travel

canoeing in vancouver
Canoeing in Vancouver

Seven or so years ago, I was at university and severely depressed. I could barely peel myself out of bed in the morning, I didn’t have the energy for anything. Going to the kitchen to make breakfast was like climbing a mountain, so most days I didn’t bother. It was easier to starve. Eventually, the hunger would become too painful and only then would I stumble to make a sandwich. I was completely unmotivated.

I was completely unmotivated. Continue reading Motivating Yourself to Travel

I Quit My 9 to 5 Job to Travel (And It Didn’t Solve All of My Problems)

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Around four years ago today, I was sitting in an office, staring out the window, dreaming of travel. I’d finished university a few years earlier and instead of continuing to chase my passions, I had stayed put. I was trapped like a deer in the headlights of life. Paralysed and unable to do anything.

My friends all seemed to have gone on to better things. But me? I still lived with my parents, moving between menial jobs, doing not a lot of anything. Just sitting in an office day-by-day. Staring out that window. Dreaming. Continue reading I Quit My 9 to 5 Job to Travel (And It Didn’t Solve All of My Problems)

Are You a Passionate Person?

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If I had to describe myself with a word, it would be, “Meh.” A word for somebody with passion, “Woohoo!” I think of them running through life. A person full of energy, grabbing the world with both hands and shaking it.

By comparison, I plod along, not wanting to grab anything. When I rush it’s only because I’m afraid of being late. Continue reading Are You a Passionate Person?