I’m Fine, How are You?

When someone asks, “How are you?”, how do you answer the question?

Do you respond “Good”or “Fine” when you’re both good and fine? Do you respond “Good”or “Fine” when you’re neither good nor fine? Do you respond “Good”or “Fine” when you’ve just had your heart broken? Been passed over for promotion? Gotten in a car accident?

Yes, of course we do. Because we’re white liars. Because it’s easier. Because we must always maintain the facade. I do this on the daily. I always wonder what would happen if I told the pure, unadulterated truth.

Scenario 1 – Pure, Unadulterated truth:

Director of Sales (my boss’s boss’s boss, a middle age man whose primary concern is bottom line, revenue, $$) passes me in the hall, asks “How are ya?”

I respond “Inexplicably sad, I don’t know why! How you doin’?”

Weird. Super weird interaction. Best case scenario: Director of Sales never asks how I’m doing again. Awesome! I never have to lie to him again. Worst case scenario: He books an appointment with HR, on my behalf.

Scenario 1 – Simplified Truth:

Director of Sales passes me in the hall, asks “How are ya?”

I respond “Not great, to be honest”

Uncomfortable. Director of Sales doesn’t know how to react. He likely responds “Sorry to hear” and quickly hurries away. Or maybe he asks “Oh, why is that?”

PANIC. Do I tell my boss’s boss’s boss, whom I barely know, that I’m worried about the dark places I go? That I don’t know if my mind is normal or if there’s something unbalanced? Do I simply say “Ah, just having a rough day”?

Let’s go with the latter, the half-truth – “Having a rough day”.

The next day, when all of my concerns and feelings haven’t magically gone away, the Director of Sales passes me in the hall. He again asks, “How are you today, feeling better?”

What do I say? “Nope, feel exactly the same, but boy do I wish I felt better!”

The next day, same thing.

Do I now appear to be a truthful, albeit negative person? A person with no gratitude, who can’t see the beauty of every day we are alive? A person who takes her charmed and comfortable life for granted? A person with no empathy for those who are starving, in a war-ridden country, robbed of their freedom? And I’m complaining about some rough days, what a Negative Nancy!

I dislike negative people, but I loathe liars. And I don’t know which one I am to be.


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