Ha! I am not talking about fun sailor-speak. I am actually specifically thinking of two words: only, and just.
If only it were as simple as the “no more and no less” definition. But I think these words lean toward the “merely” definition, a lot of the time. And “merely” has its own connotation…
I’ll explain. Like with most examples in my life, this stems from the exercise world. But it could be applied to any hobby or skill that you start out with basics and build on them and keep learning and expanding your skillset. Hmm, to which hobbies or skills does that generalization not apply? Anyway…
A common (but obviously not the only <– legit use of the word) path in beginning to run is to train for a 5K distance race. Then after the race, you have a lot of choices – do more of them, train for something longer, train to run it faster, stop running completely… you get the idea. Many people choose to train for something longer. Then something amazing happens – this distance you used to be training to run as your end goal, now becomes a distance that you can run many times a week, to train for something longer. Like I said, it’s similar to many hobbies, like me learning to knit. Now that I’ve gotten the basics down, I am trying different patterns (I’ll show you my new project soon!), but there is still a lot for me to learn – like circular needles, and projects that aren’t rectilinear and require adding or subtracting stitches (and much, much more).
So what the heck am I getting at? That as we build our skill set, things that used to be hard, are now easy. Duh. Ha ha. And that is great – that is progress! But, what I want to talk about, is, well, how we talk about it.
“You ran before teaching class, Kim?”
“Yeah! Just 3 miles.”
Dammit! Why did I say “just” 3? There is nothing “just” about running that distance! It’s a good workout!
“The running route from my house to Red Robin is only 13 miles.”
Crap! Why did I qualify that with “only”? I could have just said, “it’s 13, so we’ll have to add on to get in higher mileage.”
As you can see, I’ve become über conscious of my use of “only,” and “just” as of late. For three reasons:
- I work with a varied clientele at the studio, and they don’t need to hear me say those words then infer that something that might be difficult for them, is easy for me. Or worse, that I consider it a “lesser” workout. It could be discouraging.* (And really, same thing on blogs – it’s not very fun to read people downplaying what they can do – in that annoying humble bragging sort of way.)
- Saying those words downplays my accomplishments.*
- Saying those words makes me sound like a pompous ass.
I often think of my winter training season in 2012 when I was training specifically to get a personal record at a 5K, and so many of my running acquaintances gave me crap about it. “Only a 5K?” “Why not a marathon?” So much confusion from people.
Here is the thing – I was training my butt off for that 5K – running about 30 miles a week, including double digit runs and speedwork. It was offensive that people implied I was slacking off by “only” training for a 5K.
And… what if I never want to run a marathon again? Increasing distance is just ONE path you can choose in running… there are so many other things to do. Open up your eyes, peeps!
Anyway. I am not saying this all to be preachy about what words you choose to use, just as a reminder to myself to think before I use these two, when quantifying something. And PLEASE, call me out if I do!
*But I am not implying not to talk about what I can do, just not to use these words, when I do.