'I'm doing just fine,' and that's a problem

By Madeline Alvarez, Staff Writer

When someone asks me how I’m doing, I often find myself answering in a way that leaves room for the person to interpret my response however they want to instead of telling them the truth. Instead of saying, “I’m having a really great day,” or, “I’m not doing too well today,” I am often guilty of replying, “I'm fine.”

This is an answer that essentially says nothing because we can say it when we are feeling either good or bad. In my opinion, it is a little lazy, too, because it’s something we can say when we don’t want to give an explanation of our true feelings.

I know why I do this and I think the reason may apply to others as well. It’s hard to open up about what you are really feeling, whether it be good or bad. At the same time, this seems strange to me, because I really do want my friends to know how I am feeling. I think there are two reasons for this struggle:

  1. We don’t know how the other person is feeling and we don’t want to be the opposite of that. For example, if we are having a really great day but don’t know how our friend’s day is going, we don’t know if we should share our feelings with them because we fear it might make them feel more sad if they are already depressed. You can arrange this any number of ways: you feel sad and don’t want to make your friend more depressed, you feel sad and don’t want to make your happy friend feel sad, etc.
  2. I want my friends to know my mood without me having to explain it, because I feel like they should know me well enough to figure it out for themselves. I sometimes think, “Why do you have to ask? Can’t you see for yourself how I am feeling?” I know I do this more often than I should and, of course, it is not something that I am proud of doing.

Think about this, though: The worse case scenario is that you and your friend will feel depressed together. The best case scenario is that you will feel happy together.

In order for this to be possible, though, we have to let each other know how we are feeling.

If I always reply, “I’m fine,” how will my friends know when to be there for me? If they feel like I’m simply okay, how will they know what to gauge so that they can share their joys and sorrows with me? If they never share that with me, how will I know when to be there for them?

If I were to answer honestly, my friend also might feel more inclined to answer honestly the next time I ask them, “How are you?”

This is something that I want to work on.

The next time someone asks how I’m doing, I’m going to respond honestly so that they can be honest with me, too. When a friend tells me about their day, I’ll let them see that I care.

Will you join me in making someone’s day a little better?