A simple question that usually provokes a simple answer of “fine.” One of the worst words in the English language because while sometimes you are genuinely feeling just fine, for the most part it has become the groundwork of a facade of feelings. Almost every time I say I am fine, I am quite the opposite, but I don’t want to talk about it.
But we should talk about it, because life carries plenty of feelings. Life is tough. School is tough. Emotions are tough. There is an awful taboo over talking about feelings for too many reasons: you don’t want to complain, you don’t want to be pitied, you don’t want to open up, you feel like the problems of others are worse than yours so you should just shut up. But when you’re feeling under such a high level of emotional stress, those things shouldn’t be on your mind. Feeling better should be on your mind. Because people who care about you and your wellbeing won’t think you’re complaining, won’t belittle your problems, and will care, not pity. There are people who care about you and want you to open up to them. And if someone makes you feel worse for opening up to them, perhaps they aren’t the kind of person you should surround yourself with. Because feelings are not something to be shameful of or to hide for fear of judgement. We’re human beings, gosh darn it.
I also think it’s incredibly necessary to talk about other people’s feelings because then you’ll realize other people are feeling a wide range of emotions, too. This is necessary so that you won’t unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings if they are also in a fragile state, but mostly so that you understand that you aren’t alone, and that those around you can empathize and you can work through the struggles of life together. Because dealing with life alone may feel safe in the moment, but it is perhaps the most counterproductive thing you could do.
So I decided to talk about it. Over the course of the day, I asked my friends the simple question, “How are you feeling?” And I was very pleased with their rather honest responses:
“I’m feeling like I don’t want to be here. I just want to be at home. This year is different from last year.”
“Tired. Sick. Motivated. Joyful. Energetic. Loving. Ambitious. Strangely carefree. Stressed.”
“Super stressed but strangely care free.”
“Poop. I feen invigorated and excited but at the same I just wanna go home and cry, you know.”
“Umm. I don’t know… Tired.”
“Overwhelmed. Nostalgic. Worried.”
“Really, really stressed because I didn’t sleep for most of 24 hours. I feel like I’ve had my eyes taped open for 24 hours and I haven’t been allowed to blink.”
“I’m feeling exasperated. I’m feeling heavy. I’m feeling groggy.”
“Can I change my answer?”
“I feel tired. I feel like school is hard.”
“I feel bloated.”
“I’m feeling pretty good. I think I’m in a good spot.”
“I would like to take a burning hot poker and ram it up the universe’s ass, then twist it and pull it back out.”
“Very sore. My entire body hurts because of stress. But my emotional state is pretty good.”
“Overworked and under appreciated.”
“Excited, albeit stressed. Motivated, albeit overwhelmed. Ready, albeit unprepared.”
I’m hoping and assuming that some or all of these statements made laugh and think, “Yo, me too. I fee ya, man.” See, you aren’t alone. You aren’t the only one with struggles and stresses and anxieties, and I am not saying this to minimize your problems; I’m saying it to put into your head that when you feel like the earth is pressing down on you, you don’t have to be the only one trying to push it back up.
How am I feeling? I am feeling sleepy. I am feeling overworked. I am feeling surprisingly not stressed. I am feeling like I am rushing through life with very little awareness of what it happening. I feel like crying. I want to go home. But I am feeling better after talking about it.
Just remember it’s necessary to be selfish sometimes, especially when it comes self-care. You talk about you. You put yourself before anyone else. You be your own bae.