Maybe it’s just me and the way my weird mind thinks, but at work the other day, I was getting my lunch out of the fridge, and my coworker was sitting at the computer right next to the fridge. She was waiting for it to load and she just happened to look over at me. Feeling the need to say something, I just said: “Don’t mind me.” and I kept on with what I was doing. She shrugged and said: “Never do.”
That had me pausing. Sure, her response wasn’t the typical “Oh, you’re fine. No worries. Okay. Etc. etc.” that I’m used too. In fact, I don’t think anyone has ever told me “never do” in response to that, but that’s not what I got stuck on. While I sat down to eat my lunch, all I could think about was the three words: “don’t mind me.”
Don’t mind me. That’s a curious phrase, don’t you think? I mean, I use it a lot, but that day I was starting to question if I actually knew what it meant. So, I started doing what I do best: overanalyze a word at a time.
“Don’t.” Well, that’s simple. Don’t means “do not” as in “do not throw your dirty laundry on the floor.” So, the real problem child in this phrase is: “mind.”
Here’s the definition of mind from Oxford Languages (aka: a quick Google search):
- the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought. “as the thoughts ran through his mind, he came to a conclusion”
- a person’s intellect. “his keen mind”
- be distressed, annoyed, or worried by. “I don’t mind the rain”
- regard as important; feel concern about. “never mind the opinion polls”
The more I thought about this phrase, the more bugged I was about it. Essentially, you’re telling someone not to think about you. You come into a room and say that to someone, you’re telling them not to acknowledge you, don’t have you on their mind. Depending on how you look at it, it can sound pretty sad and end up setting you up for a whole therapy session. Yet, if you look at the definition from the phrase itself, it’s not anything anyone (me) should overthink.
Here’s the definition from Cambridge Dictionary: “said to tell someone who is the same room as you not to pay any attention to you, because you do not want to interrupt what they are doing.”
That’s it, and that’s exactly what happened between me and my coworker. She was on the computer while I walked up to get my lunch. When she looked at me, I didn’t want her to think I had a another question for her which would mean she would have to stop what she was doing, so I said: “Don’t mind me.” I got my message across that I wasn’t there to bug her. I just wanted my lunch. I like to think her “never do” response was more a “you never bug me,” but it was probably just her being snarky like we get.
“Nikki, this is a random post…Did you really just overthink a simple phrase?”
Yes. These are some of the random thoughts that pounce on me that I can’t shake. It makes me wonder what other phrases out there do we say that we may not know the actually meaning too? So, now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite phrases or maybe you have ones you don’t quite understand? Maybe it’s time to research them? One of the jobs of a writer is to know what we’re putting on the page. If we don’t know what a word or phrase properly means, we shouldn’t be using it. Sometimes, this leads us to doubting even the simplest words/phrases and looking them up just to be sure we’re right. So, what’s a phrase that you use a lot? Are you sure you know what it means?