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Why Just is a Four Letter Word

by Andrea Updyke

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Today I turn 36 years old and I am welcoming  my new year with a fresh outlook. As my kids are getting older and I share their stories less and less, Lil-Kid-Things doesn’t seem like the best fit for what I want to say. It feels like a limiting category rather than telling my whole story.

Yes, I’ll still share moments of my life as a parent, but they will be alongside other interests like social justice, fitness, travel, silly stories or movie reviews. I’ve felt for some time that I am a lifestyle blogger in a mom blogger’s clothing that didn’t fit. It’s finally time to get comfortable and I couldn’t be more excited!

Why just is a joy stealer

I’m on a crusade against negatively “justing” myself. To be clear, I am not referring to justice, which I truly believe in. But when I was chatting with a woman at a conference trying to describe my blogging goals, I told her I wanted to live my life online in such a way that didn’t create competition but instead offered encouragement to women. I said, “I never want anyone to feel like they aren’t enough or that being “just a mom” or “just working” was somehow cheating at life.” And that, “really, just is a four letter word!” It was then that I knew I had my blog name.

Aside from the obvious 4 letters that make up the word just, I’ve found “justing” to be one of the biggest hurdles in my adult life. I’ve said it all. I’m just a stay-at-home mom. I just work part-time. I just walked when someone else did zumba. I just used a mix instead of making brownies from scratch. I just. I just. I just.

It seems harmless at first, almost humble in a way. Maybe I am uncomfortable with praise so I try to take away some of the credit and point it to the shortcut I took. Maybe I don’t know what to say so I fill in the blank to keep an awkward silence from creeping in. But over time, I’ve found the insidious nature of this “justing” led to my actual belief that no matter what I did, it was never my best. I should just try harder.

andrea updyke, just is a four letter word, no makeup

Stop downplaying what makes you awesome

I’ll never forget being on a telephone interview last fall excitedly sharing the fact that I was about to run my very first half-marathon. Not seconds after I was congratulated, I completely panicked and began to downplay my accomplishment saying, “Well it’s just a half-marathon. You should hear about the marathoner in my family who not only runs international marathons but also raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity!” And just like that, I forgot what made me awesome.

What has become abundantly clear is neither of these accomplishments invalidate the other. There is room for all of the awesome! The world needs more good things. There is no “just” anything. Each is valuable and praiseworthy completely independent of the other. So after many months and deliberating, I decided to refocus the space I inhabit on the internet as a reminder that just is a four letter word and a nasty joy stealer. I am not playing the game anymore.

Be Yourself quote

What makes me awesome

I am a daughter. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a friend. I am an Author. I know how to change a flat tire. I bake from scratch. More often a box mix does just fine. I love to cook. I love to eat in restaurants. I love decorating my house. I love doing crafts. Sometimes I don’t care. Sometimes I care too much. I get fired up about politics one day and can only manage to watch HGTV another. I laugh. I cry. I exercise. I eat too much. I want to sleep more. I want to relax more. I excite easily. I need to travel. I am perpetually planning a Disney vacation. I love lamp.

In the almost 11 years I have been writing, I have grown and changed in some ways and stayed the same in others. I have seen the internet explode with amazing support and equally awful criticism. I am taking a stand for the good stuff here. I’m excited to turn the page and have a fresh start as I turn 36. This new blog focus is a gift to myself and hopefully to those around me who need to hear these words as much as I do.

The only thing I can’t do is give you cake. If I could figure that out, I would make it from the best $2 mix I could get my hands on. And that is a promise I can keep.

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23 comments

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23 comments

Roo Ciambriello July 25, 2014 - 7:14 am

Happy birthday! Love the new blog, Andrea! xo

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Andrea Updyke July 25, 2014 - 8:52 am

Thank you so much! I am so excited for a fresh start.

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mommycoddle July 25, 2014 - 7:32 am

Love the new direction and look, Andrea! This : “there is room for all of the awesome!”. YES. PS. We are practically bday buddies. Mine is tomorrow. 🙂 Happy birthday!

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Andrea Updyke July 25, 2014 - 8:52 am

Thank you! And how awesome about our special days. Happy early birthday to you!

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Kristy Rodriguez July 25, 2014 - 8:43 am

Happy birthday!! I’m so excited about your new blog! You have a beautiful way with words, and I’m so happy you’ve found another avenue to share your treasures with us. I need your words today. I’ve been simplifying my life and schedule and feel like I have to explain why I don’t have as many commitments. To be honest, I’m not sure that people even care, so why do I belittle my decision? Your words have encouraged me so much. Thank you!

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Andrea Updyke July 25, 2014 - 8:51 am

I am so glad to hear this and you nailed it! Why is it so hard to own our decisions? I love that you are simplifying!

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Amy @Tshirt and Jeans Mom July 25, 2014 - 8:47 am

Love this, love you!

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Andrea Updyke July 25, 2014 - 8:51 am

Thank you friend!

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@FiddleDeeAsh July 25, 2014 - 8:57 am

This makes me all giddy and goose bumpy for you. Happiest of birthdays and welcome back to blogging! I’ve missed your face. I can’t wait to see where your new journey takes you.

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Andrea Updyke July 25, 2014 - 11:09 am

Thank you! That means so much to me 🙂 I am excited to be back!

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Krystyn July 25, 2014 - 9:09 am

Happy, happy birthday! I seriously say this all the time and find myself correcting when I saw “just” because it makes everything seem so less important or significant.

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Andrea Updyke July 25, 2014 - 11:10 am

I had to take it out of this very post several times when I wrote it! Old habits die hard I suppose.

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Amanda Tinney July 25, 2014 - 9:14 am

“Love” is also a four letter word and it’s how I feel about this post. “Read” is a four letter word and it’s what I’ll be doing here from now on and “Luck” is a four letter word that I wish for you on this new journey.

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Andrea Updyke July 25, 2014 - 11:11 am

Oh I love this 🙂 Thank you!

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Jennifer MommyLifeAfterPh.D. July 25, 2014 - 9:58 am

CONGRATS on your new site, your vision, and your excitement for this space. I look forward to following along with you!!

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Andrea Updyke July 25, 2014 - 11:11 am

Thanks so much! Happy to have you along for the ride 🙂

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Andrea Updyke July 25, 2014 - 11:09 am

Thank you so much! I think sometimes I need to see things in writing for it to really click.

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Leigh Powell Hines July 26, 2014 - 11:50 am

Congratulations, Andrea. And happy, happy birthday and new blog to you.

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Andrea B. July 27, 2014 - 11:18 am

Congrats on the make-over. The new look is fabulous and I love the new name. Everything is awesome (oh, geez, I haven’t even SEEN the Lego movie!) – seriously!!! Congrats! So excited for you.

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