Everyday I get asked ‘how are you?’ and my response is, 9 times out of 10, ‘fine thanks, you?’ Because if I actually answered that question I would either be there too long trying to come up with a truthful answer that doesn’t make me sound like a depressive cloud and make the person wish they had never asked or I would say I don’t know. Because truthfully I don’t know. Happiness isn’t just a state of mind, it can be a fleeting feeling like a moment in time amongst other feelings. Or a wave of emotion you feel every once in awhile that can be so powerful it carries you far into the week or month or even longer. Sometimes people forget that we as human beings have other emotions. We put so much energy into trying to be happy that when it comes to feeling anything else we don’t know what to do with ourselves or we feel guilt for feeling that way.
It’s an easy option to say ‘fine thanks, you?’ We are masking what we really want to say because it’s just easier. We then put the question to the other person, not because we necessarily care if they’re fine but we care if they’re not. And like us they know they’re not going to reply with anything more than ‘yeah good thanks.’ It becomes a mutual unsaid agreement. We both know we’re not fine but why bother with any other emotion and the long drawn out truthful reply. Right now if I was being truthful to that question I would reply ‘I’m really hormonal so everything is getting to me and I feel distant with myself and people close to me because of this; I just want to lay on my sofa and watch shitty reality shows because they are mind numbing and exactly what I need right now. I’m also pissed off with the state of the world and how systemic racism is so prevalent in this country as well as America; and the fact that the police officers that killed Breonna Taylor have still not been arrested because she was a black woman! Also the lack of guidance we’re getting about Covid-19 is really getting me annoyed. I’m also struggling mentally and trying to find what my purpose is in life. I also wish I was in Australia right now so I feel quite resentful. Thanks for asking how are you?’
It would bring us closer together as a society I think if we gave an honest answer to this question. But everyone is in such a rush to actually have the time to listen properly. More often than not it just helps saying how we’re actually feeling and not getting advice or condolences back. We don’t necessarily want someone to reassure us or guide us, it’s just about venting; getting our emotions out of our head and saying them aloud.
Sometimes people don’t really care if you’re alright. Sometimes ‘how are you?’ is just a polite greeting with no intent meant. You ask this question in hopes the person isn’t going to be truthful and give you a relatable response because you’re dealing with your own stuff and that’s taking up most of your energy. And this is when asking yourself that question is important. If you find yourself asking someone how they are and realise you don’t actually care for the response, then maybe some self analysis and self care is important. Ask yourself why you don’t care. Understand yourself a bit more before finding out how other people are. Maybe we shouldn’t be asking this question if we’re not prepared to listen to a real response.