Let's think: after saying “hello” on the phone, what’s the next thing you say to the person on the other end of the line? Is it “what’s up?” Is it “How are you?” Or is it like what a few of my teammates say, “What do ya know?” More importantly, how do you respond? Do you answer with “nothing much?” Is your response “fine” or “alright?” Or is it the constant “Good, and you?”
Every time I’ve picked up the phone, not only just these past few months, but every time since I knew how to press the green button, I’ve started every conversation with the same wall.
“How are you doing?”
“That’s great! I’m doing well.”
The shameful thing is, even when I wasn’t doing well, it was still my answer. One to bet on. This repetition isn’t something that only I encounter, but more so an issue that plagues any and every human out there. We all fall into the pattern of saying we’re happy and “living our best life,” regardless if we truly are. It’s become especially evident in a time like this. The world is full of uncertainty, our daily interactions have changed, our habits have been altered, and quite frankly, after examining the list written down on paper, we simply may not really be “living our best life.” Let’s be real. Everything that we thought we knew months ago is irrelevant to what is today. Our natural inclination and hope for completing the same tasks every day has changed, all to help bring some sanity to our current lives. So why does it feel as though we still have to continue answering the phone with “I’m doing well?”
Before moving home, my days looked very similar- interacting with teammates, meetings with staff, and sitting at the same high table at the Franklin Starbucks to finish an excessive amount of work and coffee. Being home now, I lock myself in my room for hours to avoid my brothers, talk to my pet fish, and develop anxiety from the combination of not drinking enough coffee and completing what feels like only very little work. Yet every time I answered the phone from a teammate, friend, or family member I always said, “I’m doing just fine,” even though we both knew neither one of us were living that claim. Countless days were spent the same way - feeling discontent and confused about what the next days entailed.
Sitting down with my mother I had a tough conversation about my feelings, feelings that made me feel as though I were the only one in the world experiencing these emotions. My mother reminded me of something: While we aren’t the only ones facing challenges in everyday life, she said, “it’s okay to not be okay.” We may be raised to be strong and daring, but it takes strength and courage to be vulnerable with our feelings. We face every day with persistence and strength, but when was the last time we admitted to ourselves, let alone to someone else, that we aren’t as happy and strong as we let on? Why do we fail to share our true feelings when someone asks? Is it the pride and armor that we shield with, or is it to avoid burdening others? Why does it feel as though it’s not okay to ‘not be okay?’
Every day, each person on this planet is faced with challenges. Many are faced with financial burdens, others encounter harmful relationships, and many feel lost without true belonging or purpose. However, even though so many feel the pressure now more than ever, it’s not a conversation that we have very often. We don’t ask on the phone, “how are you really doing?” We know we aren’t the only ones, yet we act as though it’s all okay.
I’ll start - I do not have it all figured out, and some days are a little crazier and messier than normal. I ask dumb questions and forget tasks. I’m one to say “I’m okay,” to save my pride and uphold a higher image. However, I’ve learned that trying to be perfect is exhausting and never let others see the person I was and tried authentically to be. Trying to “be okay” only prevented me from finding my true belonging and truly finding a way to “be okay.” At this time more than ever, we may still not have it all figured out or feel inside that we are doing just fine. Why don’t we? Because we’re human. We can’t, and shouldn’t, expect ourselves to be perfect. When we stop appearing to others that we’ve got it all figured out, we can then begin to be our true selves and be proud of who we are. It’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to be yourself and own who you are. It’s okay to not be okay, because at the end of the day, we’re all still trying to figure out who we are in this world. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s more than okay to be yourself.
“True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.” - Brené Brown
The next time you answer the phone and the person on the end asks how you’re doing, answer how you really are doing. With full hearts and the courage to be you, you’ll see from the world that it really is okay to not be okay.
Still trying to figure it out,Morgan Ann Hinz