How many times have you walked passed someone and had the "Hey, how are you?" convo? And how many times have you both replied "good!" and just kept walking? Probably more than you could ever count. We are all guilty of it and I definitely just did it on my way home 5 minutes ago. But after practicing and recruiting girls for my sorority for the past 2 weeks, I've come to find that the phrase "How are you?" should be asked with the purpose of genuinely caring and giving someone time to answer.
Sitting and talking to women for several hours a day makes you realize that people have so much going on in their lives and they don't even really get the time to talk about it. We just walk by one another and casually use that sentence as a way to make the person seem like you care about them and their lives. But what's weird is that you aren't even expecting a response or giving time for an answer. That makes it even worse than just simply walking passed with a simple wave.
I feel like in our society and the emerging goal of being more open about our feelings and mental health, it is essential to be more meaningful with our conversations. For people that we barely know or are getting to know there is less pressure to be deep, obviously, but for those people who we feel we know well, it is so important to be intentional. You want to always show them the love and compassion that are essential to long-lasting friendships.
So how am I going to start making my hi-and-byes more significant? Well for starters, I will only ask how they are doing when I know both of us aren't in a rush to be anywhere. That way they can provide an honest answer and I can provide them with my full attention. There will no longer be a need to be quick and avoid what needs to be said. I will also begin saying statements such as, "hey text me later, we need to catch up!" or "So great seeing you!" so that if I don't have the time at the moment for a conversation, they know that I do genuinely care, but that I will contact them later to check up on things.
I've found that the friends I've made more of an effort to see and make a constant in my life talk about how others don't do that for them. I'm not the type to do that for everyone in my life because I'm only one person but it's sad to hear my friends say that because everyone deserves an intentional friend. Everyone deserves a person who will go to any length to check on them and make sure their lives are full of happiness. No, you can't fix people's problems if they are out of your control, but you can let them talk about them and know that someone understands the things they go through. Your experiences make you who you are as a person and not being able to express how those events make you feel can really make you feel alone.
You have always heard of the saying that "you never know what others are going through" as a reason to not judge others you don't know well. And I'll be the first to say that I can be a pretty judgmental person. But this exercise is a new way to not only allow myself to be a listener to those who need me but also continue to open my eyes to situations I haven't personally experienced and can learn something from. Not everyone has crazy things going on in their life that brings everything to a halt. When people say they are "doing well," they very well may be. But maybe this is your chance to be the person you needed 6 months ago when you were struggling. Always keep your eyes and ears peeled for those who seem to be just fine. One question you ask could provide them with the sigh of relief they have been waiting for.