Free For All Friday, June 22 – Guest Post “How’s It Going?”

A lovely friend I’ve made online has lots of opinions about things but she’s too shy to get a blog so, me being a brave enough to have one, told her to write out what was on her mind and then I’d posted it here. So she wrote something out and I’m posting it. Show her some love in the comments if you like it, won’t you?

How’s It Going?

I hate the phrase “How’s it going?” It’s absurd. It’s ridiculous. It’s pointless. And most importantly, it’s isolating.

Now you’re probably thinking, okay, how is such a simple, common, completely overused little phrase isolating? That doesn’t even make sense.

But think about it. How often does someone you actually care about and plan to spend more than five minutes talking to ever ask you that?

Unless you don’t have anyone you actually care about, that’s probably never. Or, I guess if you don’t have any people you care about, really never because nobody asks you much of anything. Your friends might ask you how your day is going, as a way to start a conversation, to see what’s been going on. Or they might ask you about something specific that’s been going on. But rarely will they say “How’s it going?” Like life can be defined as “it”.

Anyway, the point is, the people you care about never ask you that question because the only socially acceptable response to that question is some variant of “Fine.” And, or at least I would hope so, your friends care about you and aren’t interested in hearing you lie to their faces.

“Fine.” It’s always an outright lie. Rarely is anyone just “fine.” People are happy. They are sad. They are melancholy. They are unsure. They are ecstatic. They are uneasy. They are nervous.  They are anxious. They’re annoyed. They’re agitated. And sometimes, if there’s really nothing going on, they’re probably bored. None of these simple emotions is related by the word “fine.”

And then there’s the more serious stuff. And you’re really not supposed to bring that up. Even if your boyfriend/girlfriend just broke up with you, you’re supposed to say you’re fine when the overly friendly cashier at the pharmacy asks you. Even if your dog (…or cat) just died, you’re supposed to say you’re fine when the sales rep in any given store asks you. Even if you just lost your job and you’re spending your last twenty bucks on food, you’re supposed to say you’re fine when the cashier at the grocery store asks you.

And when you ask? All anybody says is “Fine.” And since you probably don’t know and might very well never again see the person you just asked, you assume they’re telling the truth. This more often than not leads you to feel like maybe everyone else really is fine and you’re the only one with problems. You’re the only one worried about what direction your life is headed in, why your job isn’t all it was supposed to be or why that guy/girl never called you after what you thought was a wonderful night.

The other problem with this question is the simple fact that anybody you ask this to? You don’t actually want to know that their boyfriend or girlfriend just dumped them via poorly spelled text message. You don’t actually want to know that their pet just got run over by a car. You don’t know them. You don’t know what to say to that. And to be honest, you probably just plain don’t care. And why would you? You’re probably, in all likelihood, never going to see that person again. The same goes for people asking you. They don’t actually want to know anything about you. And you probably don’t really want to start telling all your personal problems to a random stranger, either.

Yet we keep asking, and keep feeling like maybe we really are the only ones suffering from our particular problems when in reality, with their being somewhere around seven billion of us, whatever the problem, it’s probably more common than you think.

See? All that from a simple, inane question. But this problem goes deeper than just this simple, inane question.

Really, it’s just the tip of a huge iceberg of a problem in western society that’s always bothered the hell out of me as a girl who has many times in life identified a little too strongly with dark colors and grey, rainy days and back when I was a kid and it was a thing, grumpy bear.

We live in a society where it is one hundred and ten thousand percent not okay to not be okay. The second someone admits to having a problem the first reaction isn’t to help them out, to tell them that while it isn’t okay now, it will be and help them sort through their problem, the first reaction is always, without a doubt, to stuff them full of pills and make them happy again. Everyone has to be happy. It doesn’t matter how they get there, or how real there is, just that they stop feeling sad and immediately.

I think that’s part of why so many people are so unhappy with their lives, because it’s simply not allowed, not acceptable to admit to being anything other than happy all the time. It’s this big, dark secret any time someone’s life starts to suck, even just a little, even just temporarily. And that only makes it worse, that you’re not allowed to talk about it. As an out and I don’t-give-a-fuck bisexual, and wait for it, I do have a point here, I can say that the less you can talk about something the bigger a deal it is, the more space it takes up in your brain and the heavier it feels. Now that I’m out? I don’t feel like being queer is who I am. It doesn’t define me. It’s a part of me, same as my curly hair or my tiny feet or love of cheese and about as important. But before I was out? I felt like that defined me. I felt like that was who I was. I was bisexual and that was a big freaking deal.

And it’s like that with everything. If you can bring something up in conversation and not have everyone at the table turn and look at you like you just grew an extra arm out of the top of your head, then it doesn’t matter so much. But if making one teeny, tiny comment about something makes all conversation at the table stop dead? It feels impossibly huge.

… And that’s what she wrote.

If you like her stuff, you can find her at tumblr and fanfiction.net.

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