16 May “How Are You Doing?”
Do you ever notice this need to only share the good things that are happening in life? Like when someone asks you, “how you doing?” or “how have you been?” There’s sometimes this need to hide the ugly. Hide anything that’s not bright and shiny.
I realize that not everyone is like this. In fact, I have met my fair share of people who can’t wait to dump all their shit on you. Not necessarily with any ill intent, but perhaps to get it off their own minds or sometimes to elicit sympathy.
But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about those of us who shy away from speaking what’s true because it feels like a downer. Or we’re worried about what others might think. Or because we’re so accustomed to “fine, how are you” being the only appropriate response. Or because you think the other person is merely asking because that’s a habit. It becomes this sort of zombie-like interaction you have to get through before you can have an actual interaction.
– Hi, how are you?
– Fine, and you?
– Doing good.
I noticed this today after having left my friend – with whom I can share the ugly and messy – and then running into an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in a long time. She asked “how are you doing?” and I immediately found myself searching my mind for a cool, exciting or shiny thing to share. Even though I was tired and had some shit going on and could have just said that.
We’re not friends to that level, keep it light. I found myself thinking. You haven’t seen her in a long time and you’re going to open with “I’m kinda tired”? Come on now! But you know what? I was tired. I had a long commute to look forward to and my other friend and I had had some pretty deep conversations that had me pondering some stuff. I felt a little heavy to be honest and keeping it light actually took effort.
No, she doesn’t need to hear the deep soul-level truth about how I was feeling that day. But perhaps if I had just said “I’m kind of tired, but good otherwise,” she could have opened up too about something and we could have connected in a way we hadn’t before. Or maybe not. Maybe the interaction wouldn’t have been any different.
Sometimes though, it just takes one person to speak their truth for the other person to feel like they can do the same. And it’s not about dumping everything at their feet and listing every nitty-gritty detail of what I may perceive to be going wrong in my life. It’s about the vulnerability of sharing what’s true for me in that moment. Not for them, but for myself. Because that allows me to build the speak-my-truth muscle. It allows me to drop that veil that says “you have to be this way or that way in front of others” or that people can’t see who you truly are because why? Because they’ll think less of you? Or they’ll see the kinks in your armor? We all have kinks and scratches and broken bits. Some are just more open to showing them than others.
In sharing my truth, I “allow” the other person to share how they’re really feeling, good, bad or ugly. And it allows them to receive me as I truly am, good, bad or ugly.