This Is What It’s Like To Be The Woman Who’s ‘Always Fine’

Khánh Hmoong
Khánh Hmoong

Suddenly the room starts spinning. Suddenly the floor has no ground. And she is unanchored, free-floating, drifting away.

Breathing is shallow. Nothing makes sense. She stares at the cursor, blank page, blank slate, but it only fills her with more terror. Wordlessness, an inability to form words, to transform thoughts into sentences. Chaos arising from the place where she used to be a master at ordering things. Commas, apostrophes, exclamation point, ellipses.

She is precise. She is logical and reasonable. She usually reasons away her fears, her inadequacies, her qualms. All limitations live in the mind.

She’s a sharp shooter, too frank at times, and she is fine, always fine.

She feels emotions, but she can neatly tuck them away. She deals with the drama and then moves on. She doesn’t let fear stop her or paralyze her. No, she charges forward no matter what.

Angry, she is fueled for an entire night of studying or working. She sublimates, she defies. Sad, she delves into her labour to forget her troubles, and she is never heartbroken; she’s in control. Confused, she kicks herself into discipline and submission to purpose and motivation. “No pain, no gain”. She is never aimless, never directionless, and even when she’s doubtful… Even doubtful she can rein summon some inner faith from the depth of nowhere.

No, she doesn’t stumble. She doesn’t fall. She doesn’t break down.

She’s always fine.

Always fine when her feelings are hurt by thoughtless words. She just smiles to hide the grimace. Always fine when they scream at each other these awful words. She’s an entertainer, she’s a clown, a rising star. She can make a joke out of that, out of everything. Laugh at yourself. Don’t take life too seriously. Always fine when she is helpless, when she revisits her memories, when she remembers these things she hasn’t made peace with. The past is in the past. Just waves them away, keeps going. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Stop being such a baby. Grow up.

Always fine when she is under pressure. Don’t buckle down. Figure it out. Even after nights of not sleeping- either due to deadlines or insomnia. Always fine. Just one more cup of coffee. Just one more sleeping pill. Whichever.

Always fine when she feels stupid and like a fraud. When he stares her down and doesn’t say it, but it’s almost as if she can feel the waves of condescension. She’s out of her element. She would like not to care, but she does, and since she can’t help it, she decides to be fine. Go cry in the bathroom and pull yourself together. He doesn’t care about your hurt feelings. You’re here to publish papers, not for your hand to be held. Chin up. Wipe the tears. Forget the wounded ego. Pull yourself together. You’re tougher than that.

You don’t need feedback. You don’t need approval. You are fine. You don’t need anyone.

Always fine when her friends each have their dramas. She’s a pillar of strength, who listens, who is dutiful. She doesn’t want to think they are insignificant worries. She wants to be understanding, compassionate and kind. She listens well into the night because that’s what good friends do. Even if she has a paper to finish and will probably have to pull an all-nighter. She can do it all. She can be there for everyone. She just has to be positive, give them hope, tell them it will be alright. But she feels all alone. And judged. And they fold one by one, one after the other. They give up on her because she’s too heavy. People like lightness. People want fun. It’s always easier to be the one who relies on others than be the one who can be relied upon.

They never listen to each other, but she always listens, always notices when something’s off… But they never really listen to her. She seems to have it all. What kind of problem could she really have? She has it all figured out.

Always fine when she feels doubted. I have a thick skin. An armor. You can’t reach me. I can do it all, I can be everywhere at once, I can be who you want me to be; I just don’t know who I am anymore. Always fine when she says exactly that to him in the elevator. “I’m fine, I’m always fine”. Even if her voice breaks. Even if he gets worried for a second and almost takes pity on her. Men want a vulnerable girl, but she’s always stuck in the transition stage, unable to fully let herself go and not be fine. Because that’s a scary thought; to break down, to be vulnerable, to lose control. Eventually, he lets go. He goes away. And she feels guilty for never really letting him in when she could have.

She’s always fine. She has no time not to be. They’re counting on her, because she always has her shit together. She’s always fine. So fine, in fact. Totally under control. It’s all going be alright. At some point. Sometime. Down the line. One day.

I feel lost. I don’t know what I’m chasing after or who I’m living for. What am I doing? It’s okay though. I’m just going through a rough patch. Go to sleep. It’ll be better tomorrow. You’ll deal with it tomorrow.

She’s always fine. Always fine. Always fine. Always. Fine.

She’s always fine even when she breaks down, and it feels like the tsunami finally engulfed her. And she can’t breathe, but it almost feels relieving to finally drown. Maybe then, she’ll be fine. TC mark

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