Why the “I’m fine” Paradox is the Heavyweight Pitfall of Our Culture

In 1901 a scientist theorized that the weight of the human soul was 21 grams. But with all the changes that have happened in the last year of my life I really can’t believe that’s true, it’s got to be heavier. You see, this last year has brought me the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I’ve experienced loss, heartbreak, new adventures, new friendships, successes and failures – physical, mental, and emotional challenges that have, on some days, made me feel like my mind and heart couldn’t weigh less than 1000 tons, and others, lighter than how a piece of dust swirls in the sun from the window panes. 

I can’t go without saying that I truly feel so lucky to have the friends and family that I do. Without them, I could not have faced the darkest days, and would not have gotten out of some of my darkest places. If you’re reading this and you feel you’re one of them – here is my public expression of gratitude, although words will never do justice what you have done for me this year. 
But along with these changes, I have noticed more and more that we are a society of “I’m fine”s. Rather than tell people we are overwhelmed or sad or anxious or depressed, we suck it in, swallow our pride and feelings and thoughts and express in two weightless (but full of depth words) the false idea that nothing burdens our souls. 

I don’t really understand why we don’t or can’t admit to one another when there’s just too much to handle. Why we don’t lean on each other more? Maybe because we’ve been told it’s a faux pas to talk about the deep stuff, maybe because we’ve convinced ourselves surface level is okay, or maybe it’s because of the longstanding stigmas associated with mental illness? But I think that what is stunning about the human race, and about humanity, is that we have the ability to express empathy and sympathy and use language and our bodies and our expressions to show one another how deeply we care. 

When we ask each other how we’re doing, I think we should truly be ready to listen to a raw and honest answer. We should delve into the beauty that is the ever-adaptable human connection. 

So, if you’re reading this and it resonates, I just want you to know it’s fine to not be fine. A lot of the time, I’m not either. It’s fine to say it aloud – to me, to your friends, to your family, to even admit it blindly and attempt to sort through it on the Internet (like this werking gal is trying to do), but most importantly to yourself. Personal recognition that your mental health has taken a backseat or has taken a blow exudes far greater strength than stifling your emotions out of fear of judgment (or if you are an anxious little annie like me, for fear of inconveniencing someone else with your problems). 

I’m trying to recognize that I must show myself the same sympathy and compassion I try my best to show others. Breaking the “I’m fine” paradox and starting the conversation is the first step to better self-love, to lightening the weight of my soul, even just for a little. 

So here’s my admittance – there are a lot of days I’m not always so fine and while that statement feels so heavy, hopefully it’s the beginning of being more internally cognizant of when it’s time to share what’s weighing me down. I hope that by doing so, this encourages others to do the same. 

Here’s to growing with all of you in love, and to watching it grow inside you and within myself. Here’s to not always being fine, but learning to be a better person, lover, and friend from it.  

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