"Just have it and give it up for adoption."  Because pregnancy and childbirth are totally safe and easy and free of cost, and don't totally change your body and life forever no matter what happens to the child after you give birth, right?

"Just stop taking everything so personally/expecting perfection from yourself/thinking about things so much."  I wish I could, but see, I have this brain that kinda doesn't let me stop doing those things.  What, you think I *like* being obsessively miserable and hating myself for every tiny failure in my entire lifetime?  Does that sound like fun to you or something?

"Just eat healthier and exercise more."  I've never thought of that before!  How incredibly simple!  Except that I can't afford much produce, don't like or know how to cook more than the couple meals I eat all the time, can't force myself to enjoy vegetables despite trying and trying, and dislike the taste of water.  Oh, also I have chronic back problems and low energy and am cripplingly self-conscious about exercising in front of other people, so any exercise I have to do has to be low-to-no-impact, easy, and something I can do in my house while my partner is at work, without boring the crap out of me.

JUST: (adv.) merely, simply.

I hate this word.  It minimizes.  It trivializes.  "Just" do this, or that.  It tells me the person speaking thinks the action should be easy.  It ignores circumstances and individual capabilities in favor of a normative narrative of what "everyone" should be able to do.  It also implies a moral judgment - the speaker obviously believes the course of action is not only easy, by their own arbitrary standards (usually heavily influenced by society's standards, of course), but the *right* thing to do.  It erases conflicting emotions and tells you the choice should be easy, and therefore being conflicted about it is wrong.  It invalidates peoples' feelings and experiences. 

From a stranger or ideological opponent, it's sneering, condescending.  From a loved one, it's even more damaging, a slap in the face.  It is the worst word, a metric fuckton of condescension, patronization, minimization, trivialization, all wrapped up in four innocent letters.

So please.  If you are ever tempted to 'splain someone's situation and the course of action you think they should take by saying "just do X", DON'T.  No matter how obvious the solution seems to you.  Just don't.  Step back, think about why they might not have done that yet, and find a way to offer advice - IF they asked for it in the first place, which in my experience the object of this unfortunate phrase usually didn't - that doesn't imply that the person is stupid for how they've handled themselves and their situation so far.  Respect their decisionmaking process.  Try giving them the benefit of the doubt - try assuming that they *do* know what they're doing, and that they *do* have reasons for handling things the way they have. 

But for the love of all that was, is, and ever will be..."Just" stop.

Feel free to add and vent about other "just" experiences you've had to deal with in comments.


ladyneeva said...

Oh but money is no excuse not to eat "healthier"! Haven't you heard about the magic of BEANS and LENTILS! And you can totally grow vegetables in a pot on your front step for like totally FREE!!! Or like, farmer's markets because rare heirloom varieties of vegetables grown by small farmers who maybe MAYBE produce 50lbs of produce a year will totally be cheaper than the grocery store.

These being the usual bullshit answers given to pointing out that not everyone can afford to go out and buy fresh produce, and it annoys the hell out of me. 

I can think of no worse hell than eating nothing but lentils, frozen vegetable medley and drinking plain water day after day after day. But that's what people expect us to do. Hey, they let us stop wearing hair shirts what more do we expect?

Jadelyn said...

Well duh.  Low-income people aren't allowed to have preferences, likes and dislikes, food allergies, or anything of the sort!  Hell, I'm half-surprised that type of person doesn't advocate eating unsweetened porridge and nothing else.  Gruel and water, amirite?

Teaspoon said...

 I'd like to suggest "Just ignore them" for the list.  'Cause a lot of the time, the bullying actually won't stop, it'll escalate as they try even harder to get the reaction they're after.

Jadelyn said...

Oh, yes.  Definitely.  One of those things that is far from easy and won't even necessarily work.  And especially, since it's most often said to children, the question occurs to me, what kind of epic levels of emotional fortitude and self-control are we (in the general sense of the word) requiring of kids who are quite literally neurologically not developed for those skills yet?  Absolutely an unfair "just do X".

ladyneeva said...

Surprised I didn't think of that one, given that I think I was told to do that every day, sometimes multiple times a day, for the entire time I was in school.

Some of the crap my peers did to me is stuff I'd have trouble ignoring *now* at 35! Granted, at least it wasn't my parents saying to just ignore them -- teachers and school admins mostly... who obviously had mastered the art of just ignoring people, since they ignored every effort by myself or my parents to get the bullying at least toned down.

ladyneeva said...

Yeah that's about the size of it. And it's pretty damn obvious with the advice to "just" plant vegetables in a pot that they've never done that before themselves or they'd never suggest it! Just the growing times alone... a carrot takes about two and a half months to mature, a head of lettuce takes nearly three months, and an onion takes maybe four months. And from a space standpoint, you would need some huge pots to grow more than just a tiny fraction of the food a person needs -- assume that you're using a square pot that is 1' x 1' - you can grow 16 carrots in that, 9 onions or *one single head of lettuce*.

Now seriously, even in a GREAT neighborhood where an apartment dweller has a patio and can leave things on it without it getting stolen or destroyed, I've never yet seen an apartment that has a patio large enough to hold more than maybe 6-8 pots that size. Most people would maybe have room for 2-3. How in the hell are you supposed to grow enough food in that little space to sustain even ONE person, much less a family?
Sorry, sore topic for me because I DO like gardening, and provided I remember to water things I actually do manage to get things to grow reliably. Furthermore, my husband and I own our house, with a yard, and so I have a lot more gardening space to play with... and I still couldn't feed the both of us with what I'm able to grow!People forget that back when their grandmothers were supporting the whole family with their gardens, those gardens were HUGE - half acre or more, and the women had to pretty much be out in them constantly picking weeds and pulling off bugs and stuff by hand. It's not something you can just throw a seed in the ground and walk away until magically a fully grown plant with pounds of produce appears you know?

Jadelyn said...

It runs along the lines of those nostalgic rants you see go around facebook or email occasionally, about "When we were kids we went home for lunch and played in the street until dark and had homecooked food and didn't use energy-sucking appliances like dryers!"  Like, y'all *do* realize that those things were only possible because of A: women remaining in the home to do the labor-intensive things like gardening or hanging clothes out to dry or making lunches and supervising neighborhood kids and making dinner, and B: the fact that a single income used to be sufficient to support a reasonable lifestyle in the country?  So what you're really waxing nostalgic for is the days when women knew their place and a man could support a family on an average job. 

Similar with the gardening thing.  I had no idea how long stuff took to grow, tbh, but it makes sense.  Also in limited space you can only plant either one single plant of each food item you want, or only plant like two crops with multiple plants each.  And remember how produce is a SEASONAL thing?  Having a few plants isn't going to keep you stocked with produce year-round.  It'll give you some during the appropriate season for whichever crop you're growing, but you know, it's not like the pressure to EAT HEALTHY VEGGIES lets up just because they're out of season.  Also it assumes you have anywhere to put pots that will get good sun (but not too much either). 

So if people would just look at the logistics of it...but then, we all know how much ideology can ignore.  >.<

Jadelyn said...

And you know, in my bullying situation, I *did* just ignore people.  Guess what?  I got bullied for that, too!  For being a bookworm instead of talking to people, for having a "stone face" when I refused to show reactions. 

"Just ignore them" strikes me as running very similar lines to the victim-blamey sort of "Just don't go to parties/drink at parties/etc".  Even if you do it, it doesn't work.

Pale_Blue_Dot said...

Found your post in the Shakesville blogaround. "Just do X" is a huge pet peeve of mine. It's usually said to me in response to displays of depression/anxiety. "Sad? Just start exercising. Just go out in the sun more. Just smile to trick your brain into being happy." Right-o. Because I'm a machine and "just" need to hit the right buttons to cure myself of depression! The anxiety ones are great, too. "Social anxiety? Just make small talk. Travel anxiety? Just look up bus schedules. Nebulous anxiety giving you insomnia? Just drink some warm milk." *headdesk*

Jadelyn said...

*cough* This post may or may not have been sparked by a loved one's well-meaning "just do X" about my depression.  So, y'know.  I hear you on that.  >.<

Also, hello and welcome! :-)

RachelB said...

Waving hello-- I'm also here from the Shakesville blogaround. A corollary that also peeves me: "It's very simple." It usually isn't.

Jadelyn said...

Hello and welcome!  Yeah, agreed.  Different surface manifestation of the same attitude, which is basically, "I, who am not you and have never experienced living your life and being inside your brain, nevertheless know better than you do what you are capable of (or should be capable of) and how to Fix All The Things.  I will now proceed to condescend to you over my perception that you are too stupid to live your own life." 

Tcheasdfjkl said...

I'm also here from Shakesville. I think this post is brilliant. May I link to it from my blog? (It only has a very few readers, so it'll only be a very small signal boost, but I'll appreciate the chance to show it to my friends!)

Tcheasdfjkl said...

(Also, in unintentional technological humor: when I pressed "Post", the button said "Just a moment" and hung that way for quite a bit...)

Jadelyn said...

Lol, that's awesome.  And sure!  Excerpt w/link is the preferred format, but I'm always happy to have the content shared.  Thanks for coming by!  :-)

Pale_Blue_Dot said...

Yeahhhh pretty much every example I gave has passed through the lips of my sibling. -_- Zie's really into self help books and positive thinking / "The Secret"...ugh.

ladyneeva said...

Yeah a lot of people think it's SO easy because they've never tried it. My garden this year was a complete and utter disaster of epic proportions... fortunately we don't require it to survive, because otherwise we'd be up you know what creek without a paddle.

Plus, many parts of the country experience this strange thing called "winter" -- very few food plants will grow well indoors without a ton of artificial light. And even if they do, some of them require bees to pollinate before they'll set fruit... dunno about you, but I don't have a whole lot of bees roaming my house in the summer much less winter!

I guess they just like the simplicity of not having to actually know what they're talking about when making pronouncements about other people's lives!

ladyneeva said...

I totally get where you're coming from on the exercise one for depression. Somehow, I doubt I'll be any less depressed after all the crap (figuratively and literally) that gets thrown at a fat woman daring to exercise in public you know?

ladyneeva said...

And something my husband just linked me that also applies... "just grow your own vegetables" types also don't consider... it might not even be LEGAL in all areas!


Granted, I think the city in this case needs to take a step back and stop being yard ogres, but it goes to show that depending on the city, home owners association, apartment complex/management, or whatever... it might not be legal to plant a garden or have a bunch of potted plants all over your patio!

Jadelyn said...

Yeah, I saw that on tumblr this morning.  So let me get this straight: eat healthy because otherwise you'll be ZOMGFAT!  If you can't afford healthy things like produce, GROW YOUR OWN cause the government sure as fuck isn't going to subsidize that, not when there's meat and dairy industries to subsidize!  But if you grow you're own it's  BLIGHT ON THE NEIGHBORHOOD and you must stop!  >.<


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