“How are you doing?” Sometimes, this question is a welcome one. When old friends embrace each other on the street after a long absence and are joyous in their reunion, this question is a happy, natural byproduct of the situation. However, this question can also be truly unwelcome. If you are the parent of a truly sick child, if you have lost a loved one or if you are divorcing, this question can feel loaded and frustrating.
On the one hand, the person asking you this question may genuinely want to know the answer. He or she may be prepared for you to be vulnerable and to be honest. If you are sitting with your dearest friend and he or she asks you this question, it may not feel loaded and frustrating. It may be an invitation to vocalize your troubles. However, if anyone but your closest loved ones asks it, you may be tempted to either lie and say you’re “okay” or scream at the top of your lungs that you are “not okay.”
If you find yourself in a situation where some well-meaning individual (who is not a close and trusted loved one) asks how you are doing, it is okay to be honest. Say that you’re not doing okay but that you’re doing the best you can. Anyone who expects you to lie and say you’re fine is not worth your mental energy.
Ultimately, you risk very little social awkwardness by being honest but not “too” honest. You don’t need to tell parents in the drop-off lane at school that you are only getting two hours of sleep a night and that you’re worried about what the divorce will do to your kids. Admitting that you’re not okay but leaving it at that both honest and totally understandable to anyone who has a sense of empathy.
: The Huffington Post, “What to Say When You’re Not Okay,” Metro, May 20, 2015