How are you?
It’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask someone. How are you, mom dear readers?
What’s new with you?
Also another perfectly acceptable question to ask.
So, what do you do?
Again, we’re not breaking the mold here as far as introductory conversations go. (I’ve developed a nervous, slightly hysterical laughter when asked this last question. It’s awkward for everyone involved.)
I hate these questions. I am loathe to answer these questions now. I will fake hearing loss & early on-set dementia to not have to answer these questions.
I’ve never been one for small talk. I suck at it. I’m incapable of feigning interest in the weather and the new coat of paint your pantry wall needs (apologies, I’m sure it’s a lovely shade of eggshell and is very exciting for you). I’m also really bad at lying when it would benefit me. Lying for absolutely no reason? Done.** Lying to avoid awkward conversations and/or public breakdowns? Not so much. So, when someone asks me, “How are you?” under normal circumstances you’re likely to get a dissertation on how I’ve been for the last month, my mental state and my goals for the future. (I realize this is just as bad, if not worse, as discussing the weather.) Under the current circumstances I’m rendered speechless. When I finally do talk I stutter more awkwardly. Because the reality behind that question is I’m not really okay. Career/job wise. I feel…adrift lately. I’m grappling with my love of writing and photography and the reality of making them full blown careers. Or finding a job that’s not just a paycheck. Losing my job, one that if we’re being honest was not something I was exactly in love with, has rocked me more than I ever thought it would.
These questions are not asked in malice, I know. They are asked with genuine interest and concern and in some cases a sprinkling of pity and judgment. I can’t fault the judgment. I would judge. I have judged. I do judge myself. And I most certainly cannot fault my friends for being concerned. I love them for it, even if it sucks to talk about. I love that they care. I adore them and the worry that crosses their faces when I start babbling about showering daily and the injustice that having to put pants on every. single. day is. (I mean really? Every day? It’s a little obsessive, if you ask me.) It’s the pity I can’t handle. Put your pity eyes away, I don’t want or need them. You know those eyes. Everyone’s seen them at some point. Head tilted to the side, just a bit not a Scooby sized head tilt, eyes just the tiniest bit wider than normal, mouth pursed and pulled to the side. Save your pity face, I don’t want it. Feeling sorry for me isn’t going to get me anywhere. And believe me when I say that I feel sorry enough for myself for the both of us. I’ve got this, son.
But I don’t know how to answer these questions anymore. Not without saying I’m a little lost right now. I’m applying for jobs that I’m not excited about and that’s kind of sucking the life out of me. I’m not getting these jobs and that’s almost more depressing than not getting a job I really want. I’m writing more than I have in years (not HERE obviously), but I’m not sure to what end. The question, “What do you do?” scares me because I have no idea how to even begin to answer it. I’m not sure I have it in me to put myself out there and make something out of this writing and photography thing. That terrifies me. I’ve become a horrible friend because this is all I can think about. Half the time when I am able to pull head out of my ass and ask about their lives, their jobs and boyfriends and babies and the assholes stealing their parking spots I’m pulled back into my own head before I can truly listen. I’ve had my first panic attack and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever been through. I feel like I’m on the verge of tears a good 16 hours of any given day (I am not a crier) because I just want to figure things out now. Oh and sleep? Forget it. I’m totally Insomnia’s bitch. We’re celebrating our 3 month anniversary in a week.
That’s not what I say though. That’s not the answer that people are looking for. When I can rein in my stuttering and floundering I say I’m fine. I’m managing. I mirror the pity face and shrug. The economy sucks. I’ll find something eventually.
One day it’ll be true. Until then, I’m fine. Really.
Look at that, I guess I can lie.
*Know that I understand in the grand scheme of things, this is not the end of the world. Please see Velveteen Mind’s post on the Hierarchy of Suffering before you shout at me to get some perspective.
**I’ve never lied to you, bb. Hand to your chosen deity.