When asked, “How are you doing?” How often do we answer truthfully? Our willingness to respond transparently may depend on who’s asking, why they are asking and is it an appropriate time and place to share. And these are all fair concerns.
I was at an outing the other day with a few friends from high school and ran into an acquaintance who I hadn’t seen in a few years. The person and I were not close friends but when we saw each other we always gave a warm hello; our conversations didn’t surpass 2 minutes or go beyond an Instagram like or comment. When I asked her how she was doing, she went into a 4-minute detailed update about her work life. And for 4 mins, I dreaded it. My mind wandered back and forth between changing the subject or walking away however, my people-pleasing nature reluctantly acquiesced to the conversation.
To her credit, her response to my question could have been just that. Navigating her career is where her mind was. But my uneasiness about the topic of the conversation, caused me to reflect on what “How are you doing?” means in today’s society. Is it an invitation to ask people what is top of mind? Or is it an opportunity to get a temperature check on a person’s well-being? For me, it’s the latter. Most times when we are asked how we are doing; we instinctively center work and not wellness. But the state of our wellness is far more significant than the work we do.
As a Sag rising, truth-seeking and truth-speaking is my life’s ethos. The beautiful thing about the truth is that there can be more than one. The more we share our truths, the more we make room for people’s unique perspectives and cultivate authentic spaces for support, when needed. So when someone asks me, “How am I doing?”, I take the question personally. I use it as an opportunity to answer truthfully regardless of my mood and state of being. With respect to people’s privacy, I also use it as an opportunity to create a space for people to freely share the state of their world without judgment; on a human level, on an “I care about your well-being” level.
When checking in on the well-being of others, I also think it’s important to respect people’s boundaries despite the information they reveal. Aside from asking clarifying questions, whatever people choose to share with me, I don’t push them to disclose more than they feel the need to share at the moment. I trust that whatever they want to reveal, they will when they’re ready to.
I also believe in the theory of “both-and.”I can tell you how I’m doing and tell you to mind your business at the same damn time. And this is what it looks like, “I’m having a rough day but, I don’t want to speak about it, how are you?” or “ Girl, life is lifing but, I’m blessed to be here.” The truth. Give yourself permission to set boundaries around the ways you choose to express your honesty because that teaches others to accept the ways you prefer to engage.
Let’s not deny that “How are you doing?” can be a loaded question, and how we choose to respond is our prerogative. Obviously, discretion is important. I know you don’t want nosey folks all up in your biness. So, when deciding how you’d like to answer, go with your gut and answer truthfully. I encourage you to speak your truth so that you can make room for others to offer support and potentially care for your well-being in ways that you didn’t think you needed.
So, how are you really doing?
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