We’ve hit that point in the semester is the terrifyingly close. All those term papers you said you were going to start on at the beginning of the year are still untouched, with the due date approaching in the next week or so. Professors realize how much material they still have left to cover and start lecturing faster. The mental breakdowns and crying sessions become more frequent. 24 hours in a day doesn’t seem like enough time to get everything done.
Yet, despite this soul-crushing feeling, we set out on our days with smiles on our faces, pushing our real emotions deep down so we can make it through the day.
A few weeks ago I was texting a friend just to say hi and see what they were up to. I noticed something was off, so I asked if everything was ok.
“I’ve just never had this much work in my life,” they said. “I just want to sleep all day long.”
My friend then proceeded to list out all the work and obligations on their to-do list just for that night. Even I was overwhelmed by the list — and I was just looking at it. But the thing that stood out to me the most was the last text.
“But I’m fine dw about me.”
Thus I came up with the “I’m fine” phenomenon. These two words seems to be meaningless, but they carry so much weight. I noticed with many of my friends, we discuss our problems or stressors but cap everything off with “I’m fine” as if it’s a magical wand that simply erases our worries. Even I’m guilty of it.
We don’t want to appear like we are struggling, and we don’t want others to worry about us, believing our problems will burden someone else. So we simply smile and say “I’m fine,” to shield any signs of our pain.
So then what do we do? Become a Debbie downer, constantly vocalizing our problems? Listen to other people’s problems and then be anxious about their struggles on top of our own?
It’s a difficult situation, but there is a potential solution. It all starts with being honest with yourself. After reading my own text conversations with people, and when one of my friends saw right through my “I’m fine” façade, I made a promise that I would be honest about anything that was bothering me. Rather than pushing it aside, I would either talking about it with my friend or reevaluate the situation myself and see what I can do to get a better outcome.
Here’s to surviving the next weeks of torture to come.