In a reflection of an episode of Being Mary Jane, I recall her saying, “People don’t really want to hear your truth, even when they ask how you’re doing.” This rings so true in my opinion. On a daily basis we walk around exchanging the phrase “how are you?” with the catch all answer “fine” and think nothing of it. Honestly, when you ask someone how they are, how interested are you really in the ups and downs of their life. Do you really want to hear that they just had a family death and are struggling with it? Are you prepared to show compassion if they tell you they’re dealing with depression? For that matter, have you considered how YOU would answer if you were being truthful about how you really are?
Initially it seemed a good idea to address how as a society we just have no interest in how people are truly faring in life, but then as I thought more, I realized that we can’t truly be honest with each other until we learn to be honest with ourselves.
The past 5 months or so have been particularly rough for me. I moved away from home for graduate school while still trying to be a sole support system for my chronically ill mother and working as a graduate assistant in a pretty demanding office. I decided not to disclose my struggle because I was trying to be strong and pretend that I could handle it all. I wasn’t being honest with myself at all about my well-being. In my lack of honesty with myself, I now realize I did more harm than good because I effectively shut people out and didn’t allow them the opportunity to be there for me when I most needed it.
How can I expect others to truly care about my well-being and what I’m going through if I don’t even have the gall to acknowledge my struggles myself? For some reason as a society we have gotten away from the fact that vulnerability is an acceptable emotion to have. It’s okay to be vulnerable and let other people know that you’re struggling and not okay. It’s okay to not be okay. And when we all learn to accept that life can’t always be “fine”, I think we’ll be moving in the right direction.