Sunday, November 3, 2013

The "How's it Going" Question


Today after church, I was stopped by a man in my ward who asked me how school is going. My response was hesitant at first. I didn't know what to say because I'm constantly fighting depression, and honestly, school is hard. And saying that is being relatively optimistic. When I answered him, I chose, "School is great. (smile and pause.) But it's also hard and stressful." I thought that was a good answer. It was the truth, and I was not dragging on about the hard and stressful part. Then he looked at me and said, "So it's great."

"Well yeah, it's great. But it's also hard." Not really sure why I couldn't just leave it just at great.

"It's great." Why can't he accept the hard part?

"Yes, But hard too." Still not sure why I had to keep saying it.

"Well you only needed to say its great. I don't need to know its stressful."


Then he said, "It helps you be more positive if you focus on the great and not the hard." Good advice, I guess, but as I wrote in my last post, I've been in denial about things going on in my life. I don't think dishonesty with myself is the answer to being more happy. My final response to him was, "Well it really doesn't help me feel better about things if I have to lie to people about how I feel when they ask me how it's going." Then he laughed and said his job sucks, and that he keeps telling himself it's great in hopes that it will somehow change the situation, and he will convince himself it really is great. Hm... doesn't seem to me like lying to yourself is the answer to optimism. But we're all different, and maybe that works for him. I like the quote I found for my picture at the top of this post. "If you want to be happy, be." That's my philosophy. I can't force myself to be happy. I can only be and make the best of what is, and that is how I can become happier.

Okay, this conversation made me think about a lot of things that have actually been on my mind lately. Why do we have to be so closed?! Why is it not okay to say I'm stressed out? Why is there this societal phobia of saying anything negative in public? (Okay, maybe an exaggeration. But you have to admit, it is pretty bad. People don't want to hear negativity. Even if you aren't being negative, even if you are being realistic, people don't want to hear it.)

My issue isn't with this guy and the conversation I had with him.  My issue is with the fact that it's how society as a whole expects us to be. Closed. Tough. Perfect. No one should know about our inner struggles. We're supposed to pretend we don't have any.

I disagree. How much better would our lives be if we gave honest answers to the "Hi, how are you?" question? How much better would our lives (and others' lives) be if we actually cared to know people's honest answers?

In my ideal world, people would ask me those kinds of questions and actually care about the answer. I could say, "You know, things are kind of hard right now. But I'm holding on. I'm trying to make it work." Maybe I could even mention porn (gasp!). If they asked what they could do for me, they could accept a simple answer like "Please pray for me." They wouldn't need to solve all my problems--they would just let me cry, and they would cry with me. 

I think we could all be more compassionate and understanding. I think we should speak up. For heaven's sake, if someone asks you how you're doing, and you're not doing well at all, tell them. Okay, okay, you don't have to go into detail because that may be pushing it, but you could say something like, "I'm actually having a hard time right now, thanks for asking. It's nice to know someone cares about me. How are you?" And maybe, if they really do care, they will ask to know more about why you aren't doing well. And maybe you will feel safe enough to tell them. And maybe they would show some love and compassion towards you when they see that side of you. I think it's safe to say we would all be at least a little more compassionate if we knew what was really going on in people's lives. (And society could sure use a little more compassion.)

We all have stories. We are all living hard lives. Seriously, that is what life is. It's hard. We are here to experience pain and grow. We are here to live this life and become more like Christ through it so we can live with God again. It just makes it all the more hard when we have to put on that perfect persona and waltz through life like we are sitting on clouds and eating ice cream like it's a vegetable. No one is doing that. No one has that perfect life. 

People have mistaken me for having a perfect life. You know what I want to say to them? I want to word vomit all over them. I want to share with them every little detail about how hard things are and then say, now tell me how perfect you think my life is. But I don't. Because I am told that society doesn't want to hear my inner struggles. Those inner struggles are for me and those very intimately close to me. Like my husband, who is addicted to porn (not a jab, just an honest statement for effect). But as I've shared more with people, that has helped me develop more intimate relationships. 

Like I said, we all have stories. We have different abilities to carry trials and bear different burdens. Some people's trials may seem impossible. Our trials may seem impossible to others. Some trials may seem trivial, but to that person, it's HUGE. We all have stories, and I think there is power in coming together with our stories. I think there is power in letting people be open and share themselves. 

There is power in vulnerability. 

I wish society would let us be more vulnerable instead of saying, "I don't want to hear that. Just tell me how awesome and perfect your life is."

"If you want to be happy, be." Be you. Be brave. Be honest about your life. Let things be, and let them work themselves out how they need to.


  1. Kilee! I didn't realize this was *your* blog until I got to the bottom where it shows your name. I just finished reading Ben's post, which I loved, and then to read this post, which I loved even more! Seriously sucked into every word you wrote.

    In SS the teacher posed a question, "How do your adversity make you better?" And people left answers that are typical, and predictable. But then one guy raised his hand and said, "Maybe I'm the only one, but I struggle to let adversity always make me better. Sometimes I feel them making me bitter, and adversity is just one long fight between choosing better or bitter." There was a little more to his comment, but mostly it shut everyone up, and no one was making eye contact with anyone... (Perhaps because they can relate? But their vulnerability meter was way too high, they would NEVER admit it?) I just wanted to stand up and applaud him. It was the most vulnerable, raw and real comment I have ever heard someone give in a SS classroom. It was amazing.

    And, I think it's awesome how you ended your conversation with that man, and I like your breakdown and thoughts.

    1. Hi! I like that story about your SS class. That's so true, and I totally used it in my blog post I just wrote. Thanks for sharing it with me :)

  2. I loved this post! This has been on mind a lot lately. I hate how fake we all are--trying to convince everyone how perfect our lives are, when really, everyone knows that nobody has a perfect life. It's stupid and it makes our interactions feel so shallow and makes me feel even more alone, because I know they really don't care or can't care, because I just can't tell them. You said it perfectly.

    1. Thank you! I agree. I hate how fake we are. We all try to put up that perfect show when really, we are all struggling with things. I'm trying to open up and be more real, but it still is hard.

  3. Two words.

    Brené Brown. :)

    (In other words, I think you are right, and so do experts who understand true spiritual, emotional, social, mental, and physical health. Vulnerability is key to health and wholeness.)


    1. I have two of her books on my Christmas list :)

  4. YES! To everything you said. I LOVE the final response you gave him. And I think his response to it is so telling----people say stuff that can trigger stuff, but it has to do with their problems, not ours, really. And I'm all for coming together and helping each other in the fight of life instead of pretending to glide through it.

  5. Love this post. I think people crave *real*ness but don't know what to do with it. Good for you for being real even when someone else had a hard time dealing with it. You go girl!

    1. Thanks :) We should start a trend. *Be real, pass it on* Haha

  6. That is why I love blogging. I have never met you, I am not even sure how I found this blog, but I love your realness. My heart aches for you. I love how the internet can connect

    I seem to have the opposite problem lately. I am too real with people. I cant tell you the number of strangers who know my story. It is like I just can't keep it in and when somebody asks, it all comes out. And to be honest, i think I have scared a lot of people. Afterward I am usually embarrassed and think, did I really just tell them that? Maybe because my story is always on my mind. Maybe because I want people to realize that this face that looks so put together, has days that I can't leave my house because I can't stop crying. And maybe we shoudnt judge those around us because we have no idea what they are going through.

    Keep on keeping on Kilee. Your words are powerful. The more you do open up to people, the more change you will make in this world. You have changed mine. You are a brave, brave girl and I Iove you! (Is that too forward to tell a stranger? There I go again.) :)

    1. Tamara, you're funny! You remind me of a couple of friends. I can totally relate to wanting people to realize that we're not all put together or can't leave the house. Sometimes I cry on the way to school, and I only wish my students who think I have everything could see what is going on in my life too.

      Also, I remember the first time I told one of my online blog friends I loved her... and I was like oh man, she'll think I'm crazy! But she didn't, and we are pretty close. I love you too :) I tried to find your email, but couldn't. Shoot me an email, and we can keep chatting!