Yes, it’s time to get rid of your BUT. Or at least shrink it!
And notice, I am talking about your BUT, not your BUTT. BUTTs are great, definitely keep that BUTT. Your BUT, however, that can go.
“I ran a PR BUT I’m slow.”
“I finished the race, BUT I took a while.”
“I published an article, BUT it wasn’t that exciting.”
“I finished my degree, BUT it took me a little longer than some of my friends.”
“I love this new dress BUT my thighs are too big, my boobs are too small, I’m too short, I’m too tall, etc….”
I notice my friends using their BUT a lot, and it breaks my heart because I just want to celebrate them. Of course, I use my BUT a lot too. This is as much for me as everyone else I see doing this.
I particularly notice BUTs being used by women (although they are not limited to women at all). It is as if we are somehow wrong for saying something positive about ourselves, or for accepting praise. Someone says, “you look beautiful” or “you are smart” or “you make me laugh” and we often have to knock it down with “but I have ugly (insert body part)” or “but I’m really weird.” Or if we well up with pride because we achieved a big goal, we are afraid to shout out “I did great!” and instead need to temper it with “I did great BUT….”
Now, I am not saying that we should not acknowledge that our achievements may have been enhanced by privileges and opportunities. If you run a PR or land a new job, that certainly does not make you better than everyone else, even if you are the fastest or make the most money. We all can make a commitment to work harder to challenge systemic injustice, and make opportunities more available to others. It is certainly necessary to remind yourself “just because I did this well does not mean I am superior to others, people and circumstances have helped me along the way” and “I may be great at this, but others have strengths and talents and things to teach me.”
Without realizing it, BUTs not only diminish our accomplishments, but they may make others feel bad too. What does “but I’m slow” say to the people finished behind you? What does “but I’m ugly” say to your children who resemble you? What does “but I’m an idiot” say to the person who got a lower grade?
So, let’s try it, just say “I looked nice,” “I gave a good speech,” “I finished the race,” “I cooked dinner for more family,” etc. without any BUTs. If someone compliments you, say “thank you.” If you want to make them feel good, compliment them back. “Thank you for noticing I’m a fast runner. And I really love your singing voice.” Or, “thank you, I like this dress too. And I really love your shoes!”
So, my friends, let’s lose our BUTs! Maybe for the rest of Lent (it’s still not over).
But seriously, do keep your BUTT.