I want you to take a look at something.
That’s the picture from yesterday’s Fancypants Office Holiday Shindig Recap, and I want you to take a good long look at it. Really examine it. Feel free to click to embiggen, or print it out life-size (I’m about 5’7″ barefoot, probably 5’9″ in those heels) and stare at it for a bit. Now, go through and circle all the things in that picture that can realistically be described as “small”, “little”, “wee”, or other synonyms I’m too lazy to list right now. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Are we all back now? Yes? Ok. Now, if you’re like me, you’ve probably circled some things on the tree, plus the clutch handbag (side note: I totally scored that clutch for, like, $5. Thrift store FTW!). There’s a chance that you circled the shoes, and if so, that means they’re doing their job: they have this bizarre space-folding ability to make my pontoon boat feet look dainty. I actually wear a size 11 shoe. Snowshoes? None for me, thanks, I’m good.
But–let’s be honest–you probably haven’t circled much else on the side of the picture where I’m standing, because–let’s be honest–there’s not much about me that’s small. I’m a large lady. I wear large clothes. I have big hands, a broad face, and longish hair. I wear only drop or hoop earrings–no posts for me, thanks. My regularly scheduled purse is a diaper bag, fer cryin’ out loud, and I’ve got a voice that can carry to 24 school-aged kids at a crowded swimming pool during a summertime field trip. I have laughed loudly enough that I could feel the sound waves hitting a table that my hand was resting on at the time. I am not, and I apologize if this comes as a surprise to you, a teensy li’l thang.
My blog posts are long, my sentences are complex and occasionally rambling, my vocabulary is large, my words are polysyllabic. I’m big all over. I mean, c’mon, what did you expect from a gal who goes by “Mama BuffaloWmn”?
So why, dearlordinheaven, why do I feel the compulsion to diminish the words that I write?!?
…I should give you some context.
Yesterday I fought a pretty bloody fight against my internal demons and programming, and posted about how I was a total rock star this past weekend. Arguably, I’m a total rock star more frequently than that, but that was the most recent obvious example. (Fighting…urge…to…add…qualifiers…and…apologetic…statements….) Since I work from home, I was simultaneously sending and/or replying to assorted emails, and since a startling percentage of my social life is conducted online (we live in the future), I was also sending and/or replying to personal correspondence via various sites and media.
And you know what I noticed? An astonishing amount of my correspondence included the word “just”: “Just wanted to see if 3 PM EST works for you”; “I was just wondering if you’d prefer to move the meeting to Friday”; “I was just unsure whether you’d be home tomorrow”; “I’d just like to add my two cents here”; etc, etc, etc.
So on the one hand, I was all singin’ my own praises out in front of god and everybody, and on the other hand, I was starting, like, every single message with an apology for the simple act of communicating with people–which is doubly hilarious, because a lot of those messages were replies. People were expecting to hear from me, and I still found myself compulsively apologizing for the intrusion in their day.
It’s an act of self-diminishment, is what it is, and I’m here to tell ya, it’s gotta stop. It’s no different than the need many of us feel to apologize for every little thing whether it actually merits an apology or not (there’s an amusing anecdote about that in this post about the Overuse of “I’m Sorry”–look for the bit about the bears); it serves no purpose other than to make us seem smaller, less intrusive, less imposing…and for a person like me, where every other facet of my existence is large, bold, and infinitely noticeable, it’s perhaps a touch on the ludicrous side for me to try to be the dainty, shrinking violet. Especially with my words, of all things.
So that’s my mission, ‘Tracters: I’m going to make a concerted effort to reduce my use of the word “just”. Ditto for “simply”, “merely”, and so forth. I mean, they’ll still be allowed when they’re being used in a non-self-abasing way–how else am I supposed to say “No, thanks, just the coffee for me” without sounding overblown? Somehow “No, thanks, the coffee will suffice for my needs though I appreciate your dedication to thorough service and your offer to bring me additional beverages or treats” doesn’t have the same casual feel I shoot for in restaurants.
But I don’t get to use them as a way of excusing the fact of my existence. I don’t get to use them as an attempt to slip my way unnoticed into a conversation–especially when it’s one where I was explicitly invited to participate. I don’t get to use them to diminish my voice, my thoughts, my opinion, or my messages to the world.
I’ve been told that my words are my greatest gift; seems to me like it’s plain rude to try to play them down.