Stop Saying “Fine”

“How are you?”

Every conversation between casual acquaintances

I am guilty of ignoring my feelings and robotically saying “fine” when asked how I am. It’s a habit. It’s a wall. It’s a lie.

I don’t mean to lie. I don’t consider myself a liar. But we can’t be “fine” all the time…hell, I don’t actually want to be “fine” all the time; what a boring f-ing life.

And yet…

“How are you?”
“Fine. You?” (or “Good. You?” or “Alright. You?” These are all the same lie).

Usually what I mean when I say “fine” is that I either:

  • Have no actual idea how I am because I haven’t checked in with myself, too busy running after kids or running errands or running around inside my head
  • Am super emotional and don’t have the ability to talk about what’s bothering me
  • Am super emotional and don’t want to talk about it

The other day amidst all this COVID-19 business, a friend and I were texting and because it’s texting when she asked me how I was I said “good.” That would be *big eyeroll* fine because we were texting except that it wasn’t fine by any stretch of the imagination because she had just finished telling me a rather harrowing story about how she’d spent the last week under crippling anxiety. Instead of commiserating with her, being honest with her about all the feelings I’m dealing with, I said I was “good.”

Now here’s the thing: I am good. I am.

  • I am unbelievably happy with my husband and my two kids and my dog and the roof over my head and the food in our kitchen and the wood stove that keeps us warm
  • I am lucky
  • I am grateful

Now here’s the other thing: I am not good. I am not.

  • I am terrified every time I cough that it’s coronavirus and I’m going to kill my immunocompromised husband
  • I am certain that we already caught the virus in January when we were all the sickest any of us have ever been in our lives for three straight weeks
  • I’m petrified that we haven’t had COVID-19 but that I’m going to bring it home from the post office when I get our mail once a week or from the grocery store when I break down and go after not going for two and a half weeks
  • I am sad because I saw my mom for the first time in three weeks through her living room window while I stood out in the yard and texted with her
  • I am happy because the grocery store checker I used to see every single week without fail was there today when I finally went grocery shopping. Our eyes met and we both broke into big smiles and we were like long lost friends: how are you feeling? How’s the family? Is everyone being kind? Are you finding time to take care of yourself? etc.
  • I am worried this if our life until August at the earliest
  • I am grateful we live where we can go outside every single day and never encounter another person
  • I am going crazy because half of me needs to be with my babies every moment of every day to ward the virus off of them like some kind of supermama talisman and I also desperately need some time alone to meditate, to hear my own thoughts, to be

The thing is, I could talk to people about any and all of these things, not everybody who asks how I am obviously, but the close friends who ask and really want to know. I could tell them. I should tell them. There is no reason to put up the “fine” lie-wall.

While I’m not using “fine” in a passive-aggressive sense, I am actually being very very passive. Passive in my friendships and passive in my own well-being. It doesn’t benefit anyone when I say “fine.”

I am going to work on this. I am going to actively attempt to tell people who ask how I really am and if I hear myself saying “fine” I plan to catch it and admit that it was a habitual response and untrue.

I want to be fine and good and okay some of the time. I also want to be angry and sad and ecstatic and thrilled and tired and worried and all the feelings. I want to let people in to my full life, and that includes me. I can’t very well say I’m living a full life when I don’t even check how I feel from day-to-day.

So, I’ll start: How are you?

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Our individual lives are allowed to be big even in a pandemic

Our Lives Are Big

The other day an incredible author, roxane gay @rgay, on Twitter posted that this pandemic has been hell on her wedding planning. She then called that small.

My heart broke.

Weddings are huge. For some people their wedding is the ultimate big event of their lives, the thing they’ve been planning in some form since they were old enough to know that people got married. A wedding even on the smallest of small scales can take a ton of planning (and I know this because my wedding was one of the smallest weddings I’ve ever been to and I planned it all myself while pregnant).

Weddings are supposed to be huge, even when they’re small, they’re huge on emotion and beautify and family and friends and love. And here’s the thing, weddings aren’t the only things people are trying to plan for or have to cancel. All over the world people are changing vacation plans (we were supposed to go to Hawaii, my first time, with our family as a celebration of my life for my stepdad, and we cancelled), wedding dates, concerts, birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, quinceaneras…funerals.

A pandemic is a global thing. It can feel so overwhelming. It affects so many people that we begin to feel that how it affects us shouldn’t matter. People begin comparing: yes, my anxiety is through the roof, but really that’s nothing compared to so-and-so whose grandma just died. Wait, what? So someone else had a relative die and that means your anxiety is now small potatoes? No. Wrong.

Our individual lives are allowed to be big even in a pandemic.

Reread it.

Our individual lives are allowed to be big even in a pandemic.


Our individual lives are allowed to be big even in a pandemic.

You do not diminish in importance or scale simply because something outside of your control rages in size and gains importance. This is not a physics equation of conservation of mass. You have every right to feel all your feels right now. Angry? Good. Scared? I feel ya. Lonely? Gotcha. Guilty? Hold the phone. Ashamed? Stop right there.

Take a deep breath. Now, for exactly one minute and one minute only, go ahead and feel guilty and ashamed because your life matters to you. Go ahead and feel it. I can’t make you stop anyway. Plus, once you’ve run through those feeling of guilt and shame they lose their power cause you’ve let them have free reign. When your minute is up, stop.

What would you say to your best friend if they told you they thought their wedding was a small thing, unworthy of complaining about amidst a pandemic? What would you hope your best friend would tell you?

Allow your life to be big. Allow your life to take up space. Allow your life to be loud.

Your life is valid. Your feelings are valid. You can live your life. You can cry about your struggles.

Your life is big.

~~~That’s one hour~~~