There is No Just

When I was looking for a ‘real’ job after college, I worked as an intern at the local hospital—not in the medical area, but rather in the PR department. I wrote press releases, interviewed people for the newsletter, and helped put on events. I remember this job as one of the best experiences I have ever had. Mainly because I felt so grownup—there were no tips to count at the end of the shift. Of course, I was an unpaid intern, so I counted out nothing at the end of a shift, except some real life lessons. They are ones I still carry today.

One day I left a message for a women I needed some information from in another department. On my message I left the request and I identified myself as “Just an intern from the public relations department.” She returned my call. I cannot remember what I needed from her or even her job or name, but what she said to me, I still hold onto today. She started out by saying, “You never say: I am just…ANYTHING.” She told me I should not downplay my role, because that downplays how others view me and downplays how I view myself. So much wisdom in such a seemingly innocuous exchange.

I think about that now every time I hear someone say “I am just a…” “Oh, that’s nothing, it’s just….” Perhaps it is our practice of self depreciation, but it is practice that requires us to reconsider. None of us—from the volunteer at a charity event, to the stay-at-home mother or father, to the waiter, to the man standing on the corner—are just anything. We are all something and our something combines as individual parts to make this beautiful world of ours greater with some of all those parts.

The next time you catch yourself saying, I’m just… or you hear a friend say: I am just a… make a correction and realize none of us are just, just….

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