when was the last time someone asked you, "how are you, really?" every day, true to the Aussie culture, we typically say "hey how's it going?" but the question is often fleeting. it's a question asked out of societal politeness rather than genuine curiosity. as a result, the question is frequently answered robotically, "good thanks, how are you doing?" and sometimes, the question might not even be acknowledged.
i've always struggled to answer this question because i never know what the person asking is actually asking. do you mean, how am i in this moment? or do you mean, how have i been? and even then, i wonder, do people want the superficial, positive response? or are they actually seeking the truth? the struggles, fears, and insecurities hiding behind the convenient, surface-level replies?
how many times do we also answer this question with things we've been doing rather than things we've been feeling? "yeah i've been well thanks, just busy catching up on x y z." i think we opt for this response because the truth of our feelings are often perceived as too much for the person asking. you'll see it and hear it in their reaction, "oh...i didn't want to know all that, i was just being polite and trying to start a conversation."
when i was waitressing, i liked to challenge these social norms. if i was having a particularly difficult time, i would honestly tell the guests i was serving. there were times i couldn't hold back tears because i was struggling so much with something in my life. is that unprofessional? possibly. but it's only unprofessional because we've become addicted to superficiality. my response and raw emotion is actually human; admitting my feelings regardless of my environment. we've been conditioned to be 'strong', to put our feelings aside to get the job done. but at what point do we bring our feelings to the forefront? at what point do we discuss the crippling fears and insecurities so many of us are facing right now, but aren't sharing with anyone?
we live in a fast-paced, high-tech world where we run on autopilot. it's also a world where we don't stop to ask people what's really going on in their lives. recent conversations with a few people have highlighted that so many of us are experiencing very similar feelings - feelings of being lost, of not knowing our purpose, of questioning our life and our direction, a feeling of wanting to do more but not knowing how or what to do. this perpetual feeling of directionless can be debilitating, demotivating, and also extremely isolating when we think everyone else has their shit together. but i can almost guarantee that most people are experiencing similar feelings, we will just never know because we never see or hear about it. sharing your fears and insecurities won't magically make them disappear, but it might just connect you to something, people, that can keep you grounded until you do find your way. feeling lost can be both overwhelming and underwhelming simultaneously, but it's a lot easier to manage when you feel lost with someone by your side.
so, when was the last time you asked someone, "how are you, really?"