“I’m fine” is a phrase uttered by many – but now, I’m learning to say it when I truly mean it and to not use it as a way to brush past how I really feel.
“I’m fine” – two simple words that can be laden with so much meaning.
While it’s a phrase that often escapes our lips with ease, whether we truly mean it is often up for debate – and in my case, “I’m fine” has historically been a way to quickly flit past how I’m actually feeling and turn the attention onto something else.
I don’t remember exactly when I began to do this, but I know that discussing my emotions wasn’t something I did easily growing up.
As a child, I was painfully shy, which lead me to bottle up a lot of emotions instead of expressing them – and while I eventually grew out of my shyness in my late teens, not being open was something I continued to battle with.
Whether I was feeling down over a particular issue or just in a bit of a funk, I’d downplay how I really felt because in my mind acknowledging these negative feelings would somehow bring power to them – a mindset which still lingers in the back of my brain every now and then.
In a way, this mindset is something that was fostered early on, especially within my culture where I would frequently hear the phrase “There’s power in the tongue” uttered and, in believing… that, the idea of admitting to any negative emotion and communicating that felt like I was somehow working against myself and inviting negativity. So instead, I would brush it off.
If I was asked how I was feeling, even if I was visibly not in a good mood, “I’m fine” became my safety blanket.
It was a way to duck and dive from important conversations, to hide from the reality of my emotions – so much so, that I often said “I’m fine” and wouldn’t give it a second thought as to whether I was actually fine or not.
And that’s the scary thing: something can become so routine that you’re unable to recognise that the words you’re saying and how you’re feeling don’t match up.
Somehow, acknowledging how I was feeling no longer felt like this damaging thing it had been built up to be in my mind.
Sure, if I’m in the middle of a Zoom call, I probably won’t lay all my emotions on the table (timing is key after all) but I am more inclined to think about the question “How are you” and pause to gauge how I do feel – and that’s a big deal.
So I’m no longer going to be blasé about my emotions and give the predictable and, admittedly, lazy “I’m fine” response if I don’t feel that way.
And If I don’t feel fine and I’m going through some pretty intense emotions, I’m not going to act like I’m not affected by it because I am – nor will I dwell on it and make it the focal point of my life because it’s all about finding the balance.
And as the days go on, I feel I’m getting closer and closer to achieving that balance – and that feels pretty damn good.