Thursday, November 5, 2015

How Are You?

Has anyone ever asked you how you are? Of course they have! It's probably the most commonly used greeting. But maybe that's the problem. It's a greeting. Have you ever had a terrible day and someone  asked how you are and then answered "good" without thinking twice?

Several months ago, I came across a picture of a child's letter saying that it was weird that grown ups always say that they're fine even when they're not. I thought that was interesting because it's very true. I once overheard a conversation between two strangers. One was telling the other that she had asked someone how they were and was greatly annoyed when that person actually told her. Both strangers agreed how rude that person was for answering like it was an actual question. She said that she was just trying to be nice and that she really didn't care. Trying to be nice? Don't care? How is not caring ever being nice? 

I know that there are definitely times to be discreet, and you probably shouldn't tell all your deepest concerns to a complete stranger; however, where is the line drawn? How many times do we miss opportunities to confide in a friend who could give us helpful advice or a listening ear by saying "good"? Or how many times do we miss the opportunity to be that friend? How would you feel if you found out that a friend who you thought was fine, was actually greatly struggling? Would you wish that you had taken the time to ask how they were and actually meant it?

In a world where a potentially deep question is a simple greeting and where we are constantly being shown perfect versions of each other's lives through social media, it's easy to become inward to ourselves and feel the need to compete, rather than connect. We could all use a little more honesty.  


Daniel Schumm said...

I'm not sure what to think of this idea, I see both sides of it. I suppose my main question is where do you draw the line between good (or better) and something less, that would likely lead to further inquisition.

I mean on one level, I could say I'm only doing okay to those I meet as I am actually struggling in a college class (a high C), enough to bring my grade low enough to lose my scholarship, even though I have straight A's elsewhere. Yet I simply don't feel right allowing something like that to bring me down, I mean I have a full-ride scholarship, am making easy A's in the rest of my classes, have my own car, etc... Essentially, compared to others I meet on campus, I'm doing really great, much less compared to those in other countries.

Lately I've been responding to the question, usually with a "pretty good" or "great" simply because I can't see myself honestly being much worse unless something truly tragic happened.

I guess, I don't know. It bugs me plenty when people say they're fine when something is obviously bothering them, but it simply feels wrong for me to respond in a with anything less than good. I suppose it's somewhat hypocritical, but honestly, I haven't figured out what I think about this subject totally, but I feel it's deeper than just being honest.

Blackberry Morning said...

Daniel, Thank you so much for your feedback! My challenge to those who read this post is more on the side of being the one who asks and listens rather than being the one who answers. I don't believe we should force our feelings or problems on those around us who aren't interested. My goal was to possibly inspire you to simply care about others. To take the time to consider more how the people around you answer the question rather than how we want to answer it ourselves. The ability to be open and feel safe doing so is an important factor in building healthy relationships, and when you open that line of communication by first asking and listening, then that person is more likely to want to be there for you when a time comes that you need something. Because we all have those times.
It doesn't mean that you should divulge every little thing that is bothering you any time someone asks. It just means that if you're in a very bad place, you should be able to say so to someone.
I guess I should be a little more specific about where I am coming from. Several years ago, I had a friend who knew a girl. My friend saw the girl one day and asked how she was doing and the girl responded by saying that she was great. Shortly after we learned that the girl had taken her life. My friend was angry because he had just seen her and was under the impression that she was fine. I don't how the story would have changed if the girl had answered differently.

Darrion M.R. said...

This post sure makes me think. I'm the sort of person who pops out of the car with a smile and says 'good' or 'fine' even if I'm not feeling great. I use to think it was kind of... well, I wouldn't say rude, but not very helpful to the other person by saying I'm feeling down. But you're post changed my mind. I guess I should be more open with friends. Though a lot of the time I'm not sure what to say when someone says that they're not feeling good. It gets awkward fast... any advice?

Blackberry Morning said...

Darrion, Thank you for the feedback! I think the first step is to build relationships. I think the best way to do that is to first be the listener. I understand that listening to other people's problems can be awkward, but just remember how you would feel if the situation was flipped. Sometimes all someone needs is an understanding ear or a simple word of encouragement. Sometimes just a simple "I'm sorry you're having a hard time" is enough.
What I'm not saying to do is unload all your problems on the first un-expecting person who says good morning. Just know that you do have someone around you who really does care. Even if you're not sure who that person is right away, they're there and they will appreciate the honesty. Be that person for someone else.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! This post was great. I wish that when people ask me how i am doing, they actually mean it! Normally, it's just so they can gossip, or they just want to seem polite, but (like you said) they don't really care... The good of this situation is, i really want to be the exact opposite of how they treat me, because it's kinda annoying, so it encourages me to ask people how they're doing, and really care about their responses.:)

Thanks again!