It’s OK not to be OK, isn’t it

“Hi, how are you?” Do you answer this question honestly? Do you even think about your response or do you just reply with an automated rehearsed response and don’t give the question much thought? It doesn’t matter if I am having the worst day of my life, or the best, I always respond by saying, “I’m pretty good, how about you?” Why? What if I admitted that I was actually having the worst day ever? The kind of day where you just want to put on your pajamas and fuzzy socks, eat junk food, watch TV and pretend that the day never happened. And on the really bad days, call your mom and cry, because you’re having a break down and you know that she can always make it better (or maybe that’s just me).

Stop pretending you have to have it together all the time. That is not normal. Normal people have ups and downs, so just admit it. Say, “Actually I am not doing well at all today. My car won’t start, I think I just failed my chemistry test, and my cat Fluffy just died.” Say how you really feel. Yes, the person that asked you how you are might not know how to respond to all that, but at least you’re not lying. You admitted you are not perfect.

I actually just had one of the worst days ever. If you read my column last week, it was that same day where, yes I called my mom bawling because I was having a mental breakdown. I thought I would have it together this year because I am a sophomore, but I guess not. Oh well. So, I had one of the worst days ever, and at first I tried to hide it. I pretended like nothing was wrong, plastered a smile on my face and faked it. But, then I realized how silly that was.

So the next day, when a few of my friends asked how I was, I said, “Better, much better than yesterday. Yesterday was a bad day.” And, before I could even finish my friend said, “Me too.” She went on to tell me that she had a mental breakdown and spent most of the day crying. It was liberating that we could connect and realize that we were not perfect. We did not have it together and that was OK. We could laugh at the point of near tears, knowing how silly it is to think we have to be perfect. Being honest with each other creates a sense vulnerability, that can’t be found if we go on lying and pretending everything is OK. Or on the other hand, what if I used my good day to spread that light to others and cheer them up? Sometimes it’s the simple things like an encouraging note or text, a cheesy joke or even a smile that can make my entire day (well none of those things can compare to the joy I feel when a class gets canceled). 

What if we cared enough about each other to do these things? What if you believed that you had the power to influence and change what kind of day someone is having? It is just something to think about. So, next time you ask someone how he or she is, ask them the question, “How are you, FOR REAL?”

By asking them how they are for real, it means you really do care about them and aren’t just making small talk. This can make such a difference and could strengthen your relationships.

Kendra is majoring in advertising. She can be reached at [email protected].