Category Archives: Life

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: Do You Consider Yourself An American?

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It’s been over a year now since I moved to America and as I posted back then, adjusting to life here has been hard.

It still is hard too. I feel like it will be many years before I finally feel comfortable. Or maybe never will!

When I was thinking up some new ideas for my podcast, my co-worker, Lusine, seemed like she’d be the perfect guest. She moved over to America from Armenia (via Russia) as a teenager, so I thought if anybody could empathise it would be her.

In this episode of Serious Chats, we talk about adjusting to living in America. Whether we’ll ever feel like Americans and how living in a new country changes our identities.

We also think about home and where we consider it to be when we’re thousands of miles from our birthplace.

You can listen on the links below, or alternatively there is a podcast player on my blog. Enjoy!

Soundcloud | RSS | Stitcher | iTunes or your podcasting app, search for “Serious Chats”

Serious Chats Podcast: What’s Your Origin Story?

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You might assume that my new podcast only has two episodes as that’s all I’ve posted up onto DasBloggen. But I’m actually on the sixth proper episode now.

Once I’ve recorded the podcast, spent a few hours editing it, created an image, done the uploading AND posted it on social media, the last thing I want to do is also post something on my blog. Continue reading Serious Chats Podcast: What’s Your Origin Story?

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

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

I Can’t Get No (Job) Satisfaction

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One day, many years ago, I came up with an ingenious thought experiment which is the true test of how much I’m enjoying a job.

It’s simple. I pose myself this question:

If I somehow had a magical button that would allow me to black out every day at the start of work, waking me up hours later once I’m finished, would I use it? Continue reading I Can’t Get No (Job) Satisfaction

Forgetting the Bully

It all started when I got my first job.

I’d just finished my exams at school and was free to spend my summer however I pleased. I was 16 and still a child, but my mother got me a part-time job working in a government office during the evenings.

For a first job it was amazing: good pay, looked great on a resume and I was good at it too. Everything seemed perfect until the bullying started. Continue reading Forgetting the Bully