“How are you?” That is such a simple question. One you will probably hear everyday. But what will your answer be? You probably just give a standard reaction. Something like, I’m fine or busy. But just think for a second. Are you really? Do you give an honest answer or do you respond automatically? For me it feels like everything needs to be positive nowadays. You have to feel fine, be happy and most of all you cannot complain about anything. Even if it is all a lie. People just don’t expect an honest answer anymore.
I, on the other hand, am honest. I don’t feel ashamed if things aren’t going well. Besides, I would want the other person to answer the same question honestly as well. Aren’t things going great? Just say so! Don’t feel embarrassed when your life isn’t perfect. Be honest and maybe I am able to help or support you. But it seems to me that I am one of the few that feels this way.
During my pregnancy I lost several followers on Social Media. Just for being honest. According to them I was too negative. I wasn’t. The first few months I only had Facebook as my window to the outside world. It wasn’t negative what I shared, but things just weren’t positive. Yes, I was pregnant. But I felt like shit. My whole world existed of a hospital bed, my own bed or the couch. That was my life. Usually I tried to give it a positive spin. Like the one time I finally managed to shower alone. For me that felt like winning the marathon. The first positive thing in a few months. For many others it might have been too much in their face and too hard to understand. It was as positive as I could get. And why should I have lied about it? Or just be quiet? When someone asks you how you feel, why shouldn’t you be able to just tell the truth? Why is it people expect you to lie and just tell them what they want to hear?
What I noticed on Facebook was that people remember all the negative things much better. Afterwards I looked at my ratio between negative and positive messages. There were more positive than negative. Apparently if you are negative, is wrong. Nut for me it was not being negative, it was being honest and telling my online friends how I felt. People don’t want you to complain, but they even can’t seem to remember all the positive things. But check out Facebook for a second. Just look at it. It is a medium on which you should be able to share anything you like. Look at it. What do you see? It promotes all this don’t be negative attitude. It only has a Like button. Now look even better. What do your friends post? Most of them probably only post positive or funny things. Everyone is having fun, at least according to Facebook. The bad days, you know what I mean. Those days you just wish the day was over. You hardly see anything about that.
I have been in New York City once. Fantastic city, loved it and would love to go back. No matter where you are, people will ask you how you are doing. However, they don’t expect you to really answer it. It has just become a phrase. This is the way we are going, here in The Netherlands. No one really asks how someone is feeling, wanting to know the truth. In my eyes, this is wrong. In this day and age we are more and more living in our phones, tablets or computers. But if we keep up this need to be positive attitude, no one will really know how we are doing. And no one will be able to help each other. This is so important! I felt so alone during my pregnancy. It felt like I couldn’t really talk to people, they expected me to be happy because I was pregnant. And still, I am not doing fine. But what will I answer when someone asks me? I just tell them how my little girl is doing. I don’t tell them how I am doing. Why not? Because I don’t want to see the frown and hear them tell me not to be so negative. Most of the time they aren’t truly interested, so I don’t bother anymore.
“How are you?” It should be a simple question. A question from the heart. It should be said because you are interested. Not just as a phrase. But now, for me, it is a question that raises the question on how interested that person really is.
This post was written for ZEHG, a Dutch foundation dedicated to raise awareness in The Netherlands for Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Original (Dutch) entry can be found here: Blog – Leven na HG, deel 4