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