Throughout our life we are asked “How are you?” in numerous variations of the phrase. It comes out in everyday conversations with retail workers, family members, friends; the list goes on. However, more often than not, when asked this question, we default back to the simple and safe answer of “I am okay”, before turning the question onto them. This could be because we are constantly on the go and have little to no time to indulge into a full-fledged conversation. Or we feel that it is not the right time or place to go into detail about our life. Whatever the case may be, we end up saying “I am okay”and end up walking away from the conversation a few moments later. And quite frankly, it isn’t our fault that we were conditioned to give this automated response.
Although sometimes this could be the absolute truth, that life is merely okay and there is no other word in our vocabulary to describe it. But then, there are those times when everything seems to be falling down around us, and we refuse to acknowledge or confess that life is giving us a bag full of lemons and we have no idea what to do with them. So we end up saying everything is fine or okay, when it is actually quite the opposite.
During hard times, this phrase departs from its original meaning and becomes a temporary mask. It transforms into a hiding place that barely anyone can find and oddly enough, it’s comfortable there. This phrase becomes a safe haven for the individual who is unable to comfortably express their situation to others.
For some, they feel a heavy sense of burden approaching even their closest friends and admitting that they would like an ear to listen to them or a shoulder to cry on. Others may bottle up their emotions inside and continuously work hard to create an unbreakable wall that has the ability to keep everyone, and everything, out. Because of these reasons (and obviously many more), we settle on the simple, yet painful lie of “I am (not) okay”.
Now, when was the last time that you actually thought about your response after being asked “How are you doing?” How honest are you with yourself when asked the question “Are you okay?” Living in such an emotionless world can prevent us from being honest with others, and more importantly being honest with ourselves.
We don’t want to come off as emotionally unstable, but we also know that we’re not robots. Sometimes it really is better to admit to people, and to ourseleves, that maybe things aren’t so great, yet you’re making strides towards being better. It’s okay to not be okay.