I am waiting to see my doctor. She walks in and asks me how I am? I automatically answer “fine.”
What’s with that? Clearly if I was fine, I wouldn’t be sitting in her surgery. It’s an automatic response and we need to kick it into the curb, especially when we are not fine, not fine at all.
Too often we say things are “fine” when they are not. We hide behind this four-lettered word, wearing a mask, so no one can see just how much we are hurting – be it physically or emotionally.
At least with physical hurts, there may be some visual evidence but with the emotional, no. And as women we can be very good at putting on “our face,” smiling and presenting ourselves as OK to the world.
When we were doing the interviews for the Good Enough book, I was constantly surprised at what had happened in women’s lives. From outward appearances, there was no clue. They hid their pain and disappointments well, wanting to remain perfect in others’ eyes.
The very thought of dropping their guard, of doing vulnerable, produced fear at being found less, of not measuring up to the pre-conceived picture people had of them.
I remember saying to a friend when she was picking me up after chemo. “I don’t do vulnerable.” For me and many of us, it is hard to ask for help, to admit we are not coping. Yet we need to. It is only when we are honest with ourselves and our family and close friends, that we can get the help we crave for and need.
Years ago I worked on a project called Double Jeopardy which was aimed at women with drug and alcohol problems. We interviewed women to ask what would help them the most in coping with what was happening in their lives.
The answer – to connect with someone else who had similar issues. Removing that sense of isolation and talking with someone who’d walked in their shoes was what would help them move forward. Knowing that they weren’t alone.
The next time you are asked how you are doing…. try not to give the glib, automatic answer of fine, especially if you are not. Pick who you disclose to, but tell someone. You might just find that, like the women in our Double Jeopardy project, the person you are talking to, has faced similar situations. They get you.
If we keep saying we are fine, when we are not, we remain stuck. Stuck in a place where we don’t want to be. Stuck with our feelings of isolation and that no one else would understand. Stuck with not feeling fine. And that’s not OK.
Company of Women
I have had an eclectic career from running non-profit organizations and being editor of a national magazine, to working for government on women’s issues. In 2003 I launched Company of Women, an organization that supports women in business. A prolific blogger, I also write for the Huffington Post, and several other online publications. I am the author of five books on women and entrepreneurship, and co-author of Good Enough. Embrace who you are. Unleash your brilliance. which is available on amazon.ca In June, 2016 I launched Full Circle Publishing offering one-stop services to get your words out into the world.