I F*CKING HATE THE WORD FINE

The dictionary defines fine as being, “in a satisfactory or pleasing manner.” But when was the last time you used the word fine and it actually reflected that definition?

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The last time I used the word fine was when my boss commented that I seemed off and not very chatty. I started off with some complete bullshit, veered into honesty, then closed with something about not sleeping enough and closed my rambling with, “…but I’ll be fine!” He said something along the lines of “uhhhh allright, just thought I’d ask,” and scampered off to resume working.

I was not fine, but I realized partway through my explanation that he asked but maybe wasn’t ready for a real answer. Besides, it’s not like I was going to say, “I’m unhappy about the amount of unpaid work I’m doing and I’m anxious about not knowing what I’m doing next or where I’m going, so yeah I’m a little on edge!!!!”

I think if you use the word fine to describe how you are feeling in the present moment, it often carries subtext: you are not fine, you don’t know how you’re doing so you use fine as a default, or you don’t want to get into it.

How’s your job?

Oh fine.

How’s your wife?

She’s fine.

How was your date?

Fine!

The dictionary defines fine as being, “in a satisfactory or pleasing manner.” But when was the last time you used the word fine and it actually reflected that definition?

I think we use this word so much for a few reasons.

  1. We often have no idea how we are actually feeling, and don’t have the vocabulary to voice these feelings.
  2. We don’t want to speak our truth for fear of making things awkward, being misunderstood, being invalidated, overloading someone and a million other reasons.

emotionally illiterate

While being able to correctly identify the emotion you are feeling seems easy, in theory, in practice most of us are pretty terrible at it. My quick and dirty all-encompassing definition of emotional literacy is being able to understand, communicate, manage and accept our emotions. This goes beyond a four letter word and gets into the fact that we often don’t even have the language to express ourselves.

I only caught wind of this skillset when I listened to Brené Brown’s podcast episode with Dr. Marc Brackett where they discuss ‘permission to feel.’

We are not taught the value of emotional literacy so it’s no wonder we are f*cked and using the word fine so much. Between hurtling through modern life so fast we barely stop to check in with ourselves and being taught to suppress our true feelings, it’s a pretty bad recipe for being able to read our internal cues. This stuff isn’t my wheelhouse, and I won’t pretend I can teach you how to master emotional literacy myself…especially since I’m learning alongside you. HOWEVER, you can start by watching this slightly dated but still highly relevant TEDx talk where Dr. Brackett explains this subject super well, and why it’s important.

standing with your emotional dick in your hand

“How are you?” is a funny little verbal exchange that means nothing, but is used as a way to be cordial. If you answer honestly with a heartfelt, personal response, you risk the other person looking at you wide-eyed like, “Um, TMI.” If you give a one-word reply, then you’re kind of contributing to the problem.

8 Ways to Respond to the Worst Small Talk Questions, theeverygirl.com

So let’s say you ask your coworker how they are doing in passing, and instead of saying fine, they hit you with a big old truth bomb that their dog died and their mom has cancer and they are super depressed. Unfortunately, their honesty is extremely poorly timed: You have a meeting you have to make it to in five minutes so you say sorry and run away, which works well because you have no idea what to say to comfort them. Meanwhile, that person is standing there with their emotional dick in their hand wondering why they even bothered opening up at all.

What I just described happens in life ALL THE TIME. I look back and think of all the times I was so wrapped up in my own shit that when someone hit me with how they were really feeling and I immediately thought, “I don’t have time to unpack this,” or “oh god what do I say so I don’t sound like an insensitive asshole.” I’m learning that it isn’t about the amount of time you spend comforting someone or the exactitude of your language. Sometimes we all just wanna say shit out loud and be validated.

However, if something is over your head you can also just say so! You’re not a therapist, and maybe they do need professional help. Why not ask?

We often miss these opportunities for connection because both parties are so afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing in that moment. I get it, both people end up a little vulnerable and the situation I described sounds pretty terrible. But if you genuinely trust the person you have the urge to share with, I think you’re safe to avoid using the word fine if you’re far from it.

Using the word fine = no vulnerability = no growth.

If you are the person someone is choosing to share their true feelings with, all I can tell you is to be as present as you can for them in that moment. Saying exactly the right thing doesn’t always matter, but making eye contact and making an effort to validate them is a good place to start. For example, if someone starts opening up then gets scared and back peddles with “…but it’ll all be fine!” and forces a smile. At the very least, tell them you understand how they’re feeling, and remind them they aren’t alone.

Also, this is sort of a sidebar, but if you know you can’t hold space for someone there are thousands of things you can ask that are still courteous and and interesting instead of ‘how are you?’ LET’S MAKE LIFE MORE GENUINE AND INTERESTING, FRIENDS.

All I ask

To start, I challenge you to banish this word from your vocab and upgrade for some words that really reflect what’s going on inside you. Get out of autopilot, and the next time someone asks you how you are – stop to actually get present and consider their question.

If you are in a place where you are really disconnected from your own emotions, consider looking a bit more about emotional literacy! Therapy really helped me learn this skill, but I had to practice it a ton before I started to have a hot clue about what I was feeling. Sometimes naming your emotions, even if it’s just on paper in a journal or jotted down in a note on your phone, is incredibly validating. The final step of being able to acknowledge your feelings – good or bad – without judging them is the tough bit. That’s some yoda shit that takes practice. Be patient.

Finally, next time you suspect that you are on the receiving end of a dis-genuine use of the word fine, feel free to tell that person that even if they aren’t fine, that’s ok too. Hugs help…just make sure to ask for consent first (yes, even for hugs, think of it as a sign of respect!). 🙂

Fine doesn’t do us any favours. My hope is that we’re all going to be better than fine if we stop using fine so much.

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“WHAT AM I DOING?” AND OTHER QUESTIONS I’VE ASKED MYSELF IN MY EARLY 20’S

I’m turning 26 next month. Here are a few things I pondered over while trying to survive college, start my career and dodge dudes that didn’t like me.

This doesn’t require much of a preamble other than saying I’m turning 26 next month and saying goodbye to the first half of my twenties so I obviously have every right to write this.

I’M MATURE NOW MOTHERTRUCKERS. BEEP BEEP.

Here’s some of the questions I’ve pondered over, and what I’ve managed to sort out in terms of answering them.

“What am I doing with my life?”

There’s no wrong answer because it’s whatever is happening in the present. It’s an… ongoing answer? Kinda underwhelming, I know, but it’s a half-decent reason to rely on your intuition because you won’t know what you were doing in the grand scheme of things until the end. Not trying to be morbid!!!!! IT’S INSPIRING OK? Go see what you can get away with.

https://www.instagram.com/p/ByYVNQwFdQC/

“What do I value?”

I feel like this is hard to know the answer unless you’ve actually thought about it. Once I made a point of answering this question with a pen and paper, I found it a lot easier to actually live out my values. I highly suggest it. Also can be interesting to look back on later because your values can change over time based on life experiences.

I know now that the number one thing I value is integrity.

“How will I know if I had an orgasm?”

I legit Googled this once. I’ll put it this way – you’ll know if you DIDN’T have one. How’s that for an answer?

“Are they into me?”

If you are truly unsure, I’m gonna go with no. See advice below. 

“How does XYZ person afford [insert whatever thing here]????!!?”

Ok, so to be clear, this is a rhetorical question because it’s nobodies’ business how you afford shit. Next, there are a few realistic answers:

  1. Debt. Maybe credit card debt.
  2. Support of some kind that relieves financial burdens and frees up income (perhaps from a sugar daddy who propositioned them in their Instagram DMs?).
  3. Responsible saving. Nobody wants to post about buying two-ply toilet paper on Instagram back to back with their photos from Fiji, but that’s the reality in some cases.

“What happened last night?”

I blacked out from drinking more than I have fingers and toes and teeth in my early 20s so I asked this a lot. Typically, I did something slutty. Or I came home at 3am and destroyed the kitchen making something to eat. Or both!

“Should I say something?”

Usually, yes. This applies to a whole bunch of situations. Have the damn conversation.

As a people pleaser and someone who has always struggled with this, I can safely say it hurts everybody involved more in the big picture when you withhold what you really want to say. Sometimes it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be, and sometimes it’s exactly as bad as you think it’s going to be. You can’t protect people from their own emotions, and you can’t control how people choose to react. All you can do is speak your truth when the time isn’t right (but don’t wait too long) and tell them whatever it is you need to say.

“Should I be saving for retirement?”

Yes, if it’s financially feasible, but also…no?

Anytime a question has a ‘should’ at the beginning I ask myself if I actually care about the answer, or if I feel like I’m *supposed* to care about the answer.

Doing certain things doesn’t make you more or less of an adult, and having an RRSP doesn’t automatically mean you have your life together.

“What should I do with my hair?”

I recently did something out of character and asked my new stylist this and he talked me out of doing something really dumb and expensive during our consultation.

Much like when a therapist tells you something is a bad idea, you LISTEN THE FRIG UP.

Sometimes in the heat of the moment we forget that bangs take approximately 9 months to grow out. Whatever you want is the answer, but it never hurts to consult an expert.

“Where do I go from here?”

This is basically another variation of “what comes next?” which is what this entire blog navigates through…arguably. In order to actually answer this question, I had to stop running away from it out of fear and accept that it was up to me to decide.

Sounds easy, but when you don’t trust yourself it kinda feels like hurling yourself off a cliff with a running start. How else are you gonna build self-trust though?????

Anyway, the answer is that I’m going to Australia. G’day mate.


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