I heard from someone once that fine actually stands for feelings I'm not expressing. While that may not necessarily always be true, it rings true in majority of conversations we have on a daily basis. When you walk up to a friend your the default question to ask is "how're you doing?" The response you get nine times out of 10 is "I'm fine," or something along the lines of that. The real question we should be asking is what does 'fine' actually mean?
The culture we live in is so fast paced and all about stretching yourself just about as thin as a sheet of paper that it hinders us from caring for each other in the way we really should. I can't even begin to recount the number of times I've responded with the words "I'm fine" and be anything but fine. Why do we continually lie to ourselves even though we all know none of us are actually fine one hundred percent of the time?
It isn't that we have all lost the capacity to genuinely care for each other, if that was the case there wouldn't be any intimate relationships. It's more a mixture of laziness and an inability to be vulnerable. First and foremost, it comes down to laziness because we feel like our time is precious and our perceived lack of time causes us to brush over conversations that obviously have underlying hardships behind them. We've all been a part of that conversation where it's evident that the other person wants to share more but holds back. In those moments our culture has told us not to push too much in fear that we are intrusive. We worry so much about offending someone that we don't even bother to validate their true feelings.
Now for the inability to be vulnerable, that's more of a matter of wanting to save face. We live in a society dictated by Instagram likes and Twitter followers. Meaning that our instinct is to make ourselves into this idealistic person and hide all of the brokenness in our lives The issue with this is that instead of just being real with those around us that care for us, we bottle everything up and hope that someone will eventually break down the walls we've built up.
Vulnerability is not weakness! That's a lesson I'm having to learn this semester and I truly want to implement more in my life. Sometimes we need to push ourselves out of the comfort zone or else we will never be able to fully live.
Now, I'm not saying that all of this will be fixed with a simple in-depth heart-to-heart with someone. It will take so much more than one person to change how our society approaches vulnerability and actually expressing our true feelings. But one person can be the rock that leads to the ripple effect. We've got to start inconveniencing ourselves for those that we care about to show that we actually care for them and what they're going through.
What that looks like, practically, is giving up 15 minutes to sit down and talk to someone. Or a coffee date with a friend on a random Tuesday afternoon to catch up. Or sitting down at a table with a stranger and striking up a conversation. The possibilities are endless, it's just a matter of realizing that we are capable of caring for others more. When we start caring more deeply for those around us we allow ourselves into their lives. We accept their good qualities along with their flaws and failures. We invite vulnerability and personal connections into our lives, and it is honestly one of the coolest things you could do.
So here's my challenge to you: take 20 minutes this week to stop and have a conversation with someone about what's going on in their lives. Don't use the phrase "I'm fine," and if the other person does don't just assume that they are genuinely fine. Conversations make for better friendships!