I remember the first time I intentionally answered “How are you?” truthfully. I must have been 12 or 13. My pet mouse had escaped from it’s cage and I had found it… dead.
The phone rang so I picked it up and said “Hello” in a regular fashion.
The jolly voice on the other end said “Hello! And how are you today?”
“Not good” I replied and carried on to tell the caller my troubles and woes.
He patiently listened to me and then said “Who am I speaking with?”
“It’s Sarah!” I said suddenly realizing that I had no idea who I had been talking to.
” I must have the wrong number.” said the telephone stranger; “Sorry about your mouse, goodbye.”
I’ve ping ponged back an forth between vulnerable authenticity and comfortable conformism thousands of times since then. And here I am 20 years later only slightly more expert at answering truthfully than I was then. Here is what I’ve learned since spilling my guts to a wrong number…
Being authentic does not mean every conversation is YOU centered.
Being mindful of other people’s big exciting life events is a very good skill to acquire!
Know the difference between small talk and intimate conversation.
On the flip side, it is a gift to know your tribe. To know those people who are going to still love you if you text them about poop… or when you complain about cramps… or you cry on their couch because your heart is broken.
Reserve intimate stuff for only those most deserving of seeing your raw and weak places because they have proven themselves capable of handling those things with care.
“How are you?” should be a permissible time to compare yourself to others.
It’s OK to disappoint people.
Don’t say no just because something is scary and forces you out of your comfort zone… but don’t say yes because it’s comfortable to be a people pleaser.