Don’t Ask Me How I Am

Here’s a confession… there is one question, above all other questions, that I despise most in this world. That question is, “How are you?”.

Know why?

Because people who ask this question usually fall into one of two categories:

1) They are people who don’t really care AT ALL how I’m doing. They simply ask because it’s their default introductory question. The social hurdle they must clear before getting to what they REALLY want to talk about, or the first in a series of questions they’d like to ask.

2) They are people who probably really want to know how I’m doing, but would prefer the abridged version because they just don’t have the time necessary to sit and hear me go into detail about the context and content of my complex emotional state.

And I hate it.

I hate fumbling about in a vain attempt to answer that irksome question to the satisfaction of either of these two kinds of people.

I hate it because I’m NOT that guy. I mean, I am A guy. But I’m not THAT guy… the one who will tell you how I am, when it’s obvious you don’t really care to know. I’m not interested in summarizing the content of my head and heart just to satisfy your short attention span, or relieve you of any residual heaviness the truth of “how I am” might bring you.

That might be someone else’s M.O., but it’s not mine.

My life is full.

It’s busy and it’s complicated and it’s hectic and it’s thriving and it’s awesome and it’s overwhelming and it’s gratifying and it’s exhausting… and it’s beautiful.

These are not things so easily consolidated into a brief prepared statement that creates no lingering emotional maze for you to navigate. If you dare climb aboard the roller coaster that is my life, you must be prepared for all the dips, turns and loops that come with it.

The kicker is that to a degree, I kind of get it. I mean, most men are not very expressive or in touch with their feelings. Unfortunately for some, I am both. I mean, I completely understand the terse kind of responses a “how are you?” would typically elicit. I’m just wired differently.

If you REALLY want to know how I am, at least give me the courtesy of stifling your look of impatience and apathy. Realize that there are times when I desperately NEED to tell someone how I am. I need to unload some of these mental and emotional weights. We all do at some point. If for no other reason that to position ourselves to start shouldering the next crate of life events arriving daily… non-stop… whether or not you’re prepared for them.

In that regard, I am no different.

So when I ask you, “How are you?”, just know that I genuinely want to know. I’m ready to ride that convoluted roller coaster you call life.

My question is… are YOU?

Categories: opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Don’t Ask Me How I Am

  1. girlforgetful

    I see it as social lubricant, and assume that the question is no more sincere than my usual response, “Fine, and you?” I would prefer to simply state my business or make my pertinent inquiry, but people tend to feel that is too abrupt. It doesn’t bother me, mainly because so many of my daily interactions are littered with inconsequential fluff. *shrug*

    • Yeah, I get that. I mean, I’m not opposed to people “cutting to the chase” so to speak. I would just like to know that when they ask how I’m doing, it’s not the same as simply saying “hello”. It feels superficial and makes me feel unimportant.

  2. Maggie

    Ugh, I hate that question. Sometimes I want to tell someone I’m doing terrible just to see if they actually pay attention to a response besides the usual “fine” or “good.”

  3. Didn’t realize how much I missed reading your blog! Saw you today on my list of people whom are friends with the people I’m subscribed to. haha 🙂 And I just wanted to say that I agree fully with all you said here. I remember when I first got to college… I had several people message me on myspace, or stop me when they would see me in town on my visits home, and tell me how much they missed me asking that question. When I would ask why, that was the answer I ALWAYS got: “Because you waited for the answer. I knew you genuinely cared how I was doing, and even if you were in a hurry, you would pause long enough to hear my out & listen.”

    People LONG for that, I discovered. I did it simply because I had been taught to treat others the way I wanted to be treated. I know how much that kind of thing irked me, so I tried my best to never do it to others. I love seeing that I am not the only one whom does this. There have been a few times a couple of years ago where when people would ask me how I was doing, I would get onto them if I knew they weren’t really asking. I would explain to them the importance of that question, and how they shouldn’t throw it around like a “hi.” It can mean the difference between someone deciding to live another day, surprisingly. I had two people I knew in high school whom told me that my kindness in that simple question would often times be the only reason they could find to continue on. It gave them hope. Hope is an important, easily influenced thing. Influence it for the better. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your thought, Myxl!
    ~*Akarui Mitsukai*~

    • Hey there! Glad to reconnect with you! 🙂

      It’s true. I think most people are drawn to those they feel demonstrate a genuine interest in them as people, beyond what they may want from them. We all want to feel important and wanted. I think that’s why this bothers me so much, because it conveys the exact opposite of important and wanted.

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