Throughout life this is one of the most misused words I hear from women. This four letter adjective we use to describe how we are feeling, it could be we are in the depths of despair, heartbreak, just made the biggest mistake at work or enduring emotional turmoil, but the best way we convey how we feel is the word FINE. It’s a decoy word so we don’t have to explain the shittiness of our lives when we cannot put into words the enormity of our feelings. The dictionary definition of FINE is ‘satisfactory’, it is the most inadequate, deflective and quite frankly the weakest word we can use to describe our emotions and fears as only satisfactory!
Growing up in the 1970’s in a household where expression of feelings was not actively encouraged, mental health swept under the carpet and love demonstrated by the times spent and memories made I learned early on the best answer to give when anyone asked how I was feeling was the word FINE, it became a conditioned response. The word carried me through my teens and early twenties through the raging hormones of youth, the death of school friends taken too soon, the broken heart from a boy at the local disco to the awards gained early on in my career, all grouped together by the F word when anyone asked how I felt. Maybe you don’t want to tell the shop assistant how you really feel when they ask ‘how are you today?’ but it’s about time we start to use different words to describe how we feel, happy, sad, low, excited, scared, good, even not bad has to be better than fine… the list is infinite, and much more honest.
The generational statistics for mental health in the 55+ age group are half of adults have experienced mental health issues, 1 in 4 people said they felt it was more difficult to discuss mental health issues anxiety and depression as they believed they were seen as weakness [ ] . We need to talk and support each other, to be honest and more open about how we feel, by breaking the habit of a deflective reply we can work towards more compassion and understanding for each other, this in turn will help as we age and promote mental well being.
It is time to stop the facade we put on, that type of self preservation only lasts as long as you can keep it up for, the cracks will soon show and you will get tired of carrying the weight around. Freedom of age has taught me to be more honest and vulnerable, expression of feelings are important, for people to truly understand that you actually are not fine (satisfactory, remember!) it is liberating. I have made a conscious decision to not be fine any more, the importance of honest emotion and feelings should be celebrated not swept away with the F word.
Life doesn’t have to be an open book, we don’t have to spew out every emotion every time someone asks how we are, just learn to be more honest with yourself and stop using the F word. So to quote Helen Mirren, ‘if I could give my younger self one piece of advice it would be to use the words Fuck Off much more frequently.’ I can’t see Ms Mirren using the word FINE somehow when asked how she is feeling, so if someone asks you how you are you can always use the much more interesting F word and wait for their response….?