Your Feelings Don’t End at “I’m Fine”
Updated: May 14, 2020
By: Farrah L., Milton Youth Action Team and HYI Communications Crew
May 11, 2020
Have you ever been recognized as the “strong one”, “the upbeat, bubbly one” or, maybe you give so much support to others, you’re not known for having any emotions other than happy ones. Many of us are guilty, including me, of going about our day, masking our true feelings and using terms like “I’m fine”. But I’m here to say, it’s OK to not have it together all the time and that freedom can be achieved when I’ve always been known as “that person”. The one who seems to have their life planned out, who has a solution for everything and who practices a perfectionist lifestyle. Even in my worst moments, I would keep up an in-place and poised façade for the public, but I’d be secretly hurting on the inside, because of the pain, loss or challenges I was going through.
It was only a few months back, that I found myself with a flush of anxiety when a friend came up to me and said, “Hi, are you OK?”. I, in a programmed-like response, answered, “oh year. I’m fine.” She looked unconvinced and took a second before asking those dreaded words; “Are you sure?”. She knew, I thought to myself. And sure enough, I found myself replying, “Yeah. By the way, do you know when the homework questions are due?” She went on to answer, the conversation moved on and that was the end. Saved.
Photo by: Kat Jayne
It was only later I realized what I’d done. Diverting a conversation with the words, “I’m fine” and a question about something completely unrelated takes the attention off me and most importantly my feelings.
However, by doing this I was on high alert and still felt nervous, upset and tense. I suddenly began to realize how many times others respond with “I’m fine”. And don’t get me wrong, maybe we are doing fine and simply just don’t feel like getting into a deep conversation. But it’s time to put down the emotional blockade and diverge from saying “I’m fine” or an equivalent phrase because your mental well being comes first.
When someone says they’re fine, they can mean: “I’m OK at this moment. I’m tolerating. But I could be on the edge of something worse.” Or “No, I’m not fine, but I don’t want to hear your opinion or commiseration when you think you’re helping.” Or “I feel so terrible inside that I can’t even bring my feelings into words.”
And maybe you’re reading this and thinking you don’t relate to these statements or feelings. Yet, it doesn’t matter if you have deal with a mental illness before or not, everyone foes through periods of ups and downs in their life that can create negative thoughts. My point is, it’s OK to not be OK and you have to feel this way alone. Give yourself permission to feel the freedom of emotional transparency and make thriving connections with people who can support you. There’s a strong power in removing your mask, being vulnerable and speaking your truth to others. You don’t have to shelter yourself, pretend, or feel anxious about not always being ‘fine’. You’re not weak, you’re a human being.
By: John Hain