How To Respond Honestly When Someone Asks You How You’re Doing

Give yourself permission to not have all the answers. There’s no one keeping score but you. Stop keeping score. You can make decisions. You can change your mind. You can be unsure. You can say, “I don’t know.”

When life brings big change — you quit your job, you get a new one, you break up, you get back together, you leave home, you move back — people you love and who love you back ask: Are you happy? How does it feel? How are you?

These questions don’t need to feel like tiny grenades on your screen, in your inbox. Your answers don’t need to feel like chains. Reject hollow, automated, easy-way-out responses. Don’t shackle yourself with words that make you feel less human, less true to yourself.

Accept their love and support and interest. Respond.

But release yourself from the burden of having anything figured out if you don’t. Let yourself swim in that. Settle in. The water gets warmer after a while.

Don’t say you’re fine if you’re not. You can be not fine, but not devastated. Don’t say things are good if they’re not. Things can be hard and complicated and kinda okay but not good. Gray exists. Black and white are absolute values — they exist too, but gray presents in much greater breadth and splendor.

Say you’re working through things if you are. Say you’re taking it one day at a time if that’s true. Say you’re happy but you’re also a lot of other things at the moment, and you don’t totally know how to answer that question in a way that makes sense with letters and punctuation. Say that you’ll say more when you do.

You’re not a robot. You’re not an autoresponder. Your words are not binding contracts or public domain. So free yourself. Free yourself from the need to say the right thing, or the easy thing, or the simple and tidy thing. Give yourself permission to just be honest. Honesty doesn’t have to be pretty. But it’ll always be beautiful. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

Danielle Ma

My greatest fear in life is to be naive.