Sunday, March 12, 2006

The question

“How are you?”

I am beginning to dread that question.

Don’t get me wrong. Most days lately, I LONG to hear those words. I long for someone to sincerely care how I am doing, to matter enough to someone for them to sincerely ask me how I am.

I hate how people often use this question as more of a greeting, habitualized it into a form of politeness and propriety when commencing a conversation. Just listen to people around you and you’ll see what I mean. It has lost its meaning. It has become a ritual type thing equivalent to shaking hands. The question is asked, ”How are you?”, and is promptly followed by the response "Good" or “I’m fine”, whether that is true or not. To respond any other way is unexpected. One might surprise the questioner by saying "Super!" or “I’m having a great day!”, but never anything too negative. That would just be "improper"…and truthfully, seemingly pointless. People don’t ask you how you are doing out of love, but rather social politeness. They don’t REALLY want to know the honest answer, so telling them feels like it has no point sometimes. I hate it. And I hate saying “I’m fine” when I am not. I hate feeling fake. And I really hate how even though no one forces me to respond in accordance with these unspoken rules, I continue to paste on a smile and play the game. I hate that about myself. I hate how I pretend I have everything together when it’s falling apart.

And then, and then there are the rare people that ask you how you are with seeming sincerity in their voice. They turn and look at you. They wait. And you hesitate. You look at them, you blink a few times, you think “rare indeed”. And then you wonder what you should do. You wonder whether they really are sincere, whether they REALLY care, or just feel they SHOULD care. You wonder whether you should tell the truth. Whether you should say “I’m not doing well”. Whether you should say, “I’m so lonely”, “My family is falling apart”, “I feel hopeless”, "I'm really struggling with things", "I've lost sight of what this life is all about". You wonder whether you should say those things. You wonder if you will sound like you are just complaining. You wonder if maybe you ARE just complaining. You wonder if they will think you are a looser for saying those things. You wonder if you say you are not doing well if there will be an interrogation afterwards. You wonder how much they want to know. You wonder how much you want them to know. You wonder if you can even trust another human being. They are still waiting for a response. Panic. Fear. “I’m fine,” you say and smile. And you leave the conversation feeling defeated.

Like I said, I’m beginning to dread that question.


At Friday, March 17, 2006 11:03:00 AM, Blogger Ryan said...

authenticity is never wrong.


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