Being a student at a Christian school I find myself consistently affronted with this question. It is to me a deceptively simple question which is in reality very difficult to answer. Lately when I am presented with this query I am speechless for a few moments, I don’t want to be shallow, lie or give more information than people want to hear. So what should I say? How is this question best answered?
More often than not the simple answer is “good, how are you?” of course this answer is met with dissatisfaction. On the one hand if the person asking doesn’t really want to know how you are doing then that succinct answer is great and they feel like they fulfilled their social duty in asking you, but you might be left feeling the dearth of their care and maybe a bit unresolved. You are unwilling to dump your emotional load on them until they ask and if they don’t you have certainly been the victim of a terrible crime. On the other hand if the inquirer really wants to know how you are doing then you have not met their expectations with a simple, “good” or “fine” or “okay”. They may have been expecting you to delve deeply into the emotional and complex parts of your soul. A simple answer, when given to that caring person, is usually countered by something like, “yeah, but how are you really doing?” to which they expect the essential truth behind your painted mask to reveal itself in all its burdened, unholy, glory. If you’re in a hurry this is just annoying. If you’ve heard it thirty times that day it’s also annoying. Who new that fine, meant Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional? I was under the impression it meant “fine”. Now this doesn’t mean that everyone who wants to know how their friends are doing shouldn’t ask because its annoying. May it never be so. however, maybe there should simply be a little less reading into simple answers, or maybe there should be more thoughtful answers. Trying to come up with a different greeting than “how are you?” may be an appropriate solution.