I’m Not OK, and That’s OK

One of the most important changes I’ve made this year is to stop answering “how are you?” with “I’m fine” when I’m not fine, when things aren’t OK. Why should I lie to myself, my family, my friends, even strangers? Besides, it comes off as disingenuous; people can tell that you’re lying, that something is bothering you. This constant dishonesty can also push away people who genuinely care about you.

​I said this lie because I didn’t want to talk about what was bothering me at the time. I didn’t want people, especially associates and strangers, to pry into my life. I felt ashamed to be going through a tough time. I’m an adult; I’m supposed to have this life thing all figured out by now.

Wrong. Everyone goes through ups and downs; through rough patches that seem to stretch as far as the horizon. There’s nothing wrong with not being OK, to not have this life thing all figured out once you reach a certain age. You’re growing each day. You’re getting better with negotiating who you are and how you fit into this world.

It’s also OK not to want to discuss it or get into details with everybody who asks. People should respect your privacy.

When I’m not fine and people ask how I’m doing, I’ve begun answering with something like this: “I’m not doing well. It’s personal and I do not want to discuss it at the moment. But I will be fine.” That typically works for family, friends, even associates.

​For strangers, I answer with the more vague, “I’m maintaining.” That’s what I do, even when it feels like my world is crumbling around me; I maintain the pieces together, no matter how loosely.


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