The Trick Question – Stephanie Bennett-Henry



The dreaded question you will hear throughout your life is well intended,

but the meaning changes over time,

and sometimes that changes what the answer would have been.

“Are you okay?” 

Answer it now, like an honesty bomb just blew from your mouth, as if you

have never been coached to answer in anyway other than with a heart filled with


“Are you okay?” asked by the parent whose breath is laced with genuine concern for

your young child self, when answering is easy.  After all, it’s just a question, and

you’ve yet to learn the answer can be a backfire

that burns a hole across your innocence.

“Are you okay” is attached to an annoying thread, dangling through your teenage

years, when you start to see a caption above the question where difficult eyes

roll.  “Are you okay?  Or are you just being dramatic?”  

Your heart takes note of the hinted condition sewed into the well intended question,

like a blanket that no longer warms you, because it’s filled with holes.

No one likes dramatic.  Don’t cause problems.  The correct answer, by now, is

programmed into your skin like a microchip that ends all the worry with a simple

statement, followed by a simple period.

“I am fine.”  But you’re not fine. You never were fine, and it’s no secret.  Just an

unwritten rule from the book of political correctness that says, “it’s not okay to blurt

out your problems, and it’s not alright to be who you are, you emotional, hysterical

basket case.”  I Am Fine is a big tattoo across the front teeth of that fake smile that

forgot how not to lie.  I Am Fine is the package of yourself sold short.  The

discounted worth of you can be anything you want to be.

Entering adulthood, “Are you okay?” is recognized as a bullet you know you can

dodge, and you do, by simply saying, “yes, I am fine.”  

That was easy, until next time. But next time may be a while, so you have time to

load your answer into the chamber of someone else’s heart,

with the ammunition of what they want to hear.

“I am Fine” is a noose around your neck, but listen closely, because that noose is still

loose enough to mutter the words, “No, I am not fine.”

There’s not one damn thing wrong with your truth. There’s nothing wrong with

saying how you feel and being who you are.

It doesn’t make you weak.

Weak is saying what the world expects you to say.

“I Am Fine” is bullshit. It offends me.

It should be banned.

Start from the beginning again and fill in the blank of “I Am _______”

with anything but fine.

Start with Brave.


©Stephanie Bennett-Henry


You can connect with Stephanie on Raging Rhetoric, and find her exquisite writing on Stephanie Bennett-Henry, Instagram, Twitter, and on her website.


11 thoughts on “The Trick Question – Stephanie Bennett-Henry

  1. One can always fall back on the interpretation of F.I.N.E. as an acronym and so not be fibbing. Much as i recognize the emptiness of “I’m fine.”, I’m a little afraid little else would get done if everybody went around answering the question in complete honesty, but still……

    Liked by 2 people

  2. After decades of practice, it becomes easier to see through “I am fine” and move on to the more important questions. At least, for those to whom we are the closest. 💕 A lovely piece of writing you have here.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My greatest fear is that when i ask one of my children “are you okay” they say “im fine”. Are they really okay , or have i passed on this rollercoaster i have in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Time to get more inventive with the questions, for those whose answers we wish to hear.

    I will always maintain I owe no-one my truth, nor does anyone else owe me theirs. “I’m fine” is bullshit, but a bullshitter knows when they’re being bullshitted. Sometimes you’re just not the right person for those truths.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mostly unrelated: When I’m at about mile 8 of a long run, runners coming at me will often tilt their heads and say “Are you okay?” I’m sure I look pretty destroyed by then.

    Running helps me hold back the darkness for a while. Sometimes for a few hours. Sometimes for a few days. But it’s only treating the symptoms, not the disease.

    Liked by 2 people

I'd love to hear from you.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s