I have been using a word lately that normally lands on my banned-from-use list. The word: fine.
I’ve got some built up resistance around this word. There are the flashbacks from my restaurant management days. When a guest said their food was, “fine” you knew it was anything but and a re-cook was imminent.
There are those friends who are always “fiiiiiiinnnnnnnneeeee” and manage to draw the one-syllable word into a 14 syllable sentence which loosely can be interpreted as “I’ve got some drama I’m all worked up about but I don’t want to seem dramatic so instead of saying it I will say I’m ‘fine’ hoping you will fish and ask me more questions and then I can theatrically tell my sob story.”
Last reason, and this one I blame on myself. As you know, I’m all about choosing your attitude. What you might not know is that some times I’m that annoying person who, when you say you are “fine”, feels the need to cheerlead you into choosing a better word. (I am weening myself from this eye-rolling behavior, don’t you worry.) It sounds something like, “Just fine? Why would you be FINE when you could be AMAZING?!”
Last week, when I realized my constant answer to the how-are-you-doing question was “fine” I heard my own annoying voice in my head reminding me to, “Choose your attitude, Erin! Can’t you do better than fine?”
I thought, nope. This is my attitude. I am fine.
Consider this your permission slip to be fine with being fine right along with me.
Well, perhaps you’re wondering what happened to my above rationale and general apathy of the use of the word “fine?”
I realized that in assessing my current situation, things could be a whole lot worse. I also acknowledged that things could be a whole lot better. Therefore, “fine” seemed just…fine.
Old habits die hard and I am, in my heart and gut, an optimistic sort of person. I DO truly believe things will get better. I’m also fairly realistic, and that realism took over when I allowed myself to be fine with fine.
By allowing myself to respond with “fine”, it dawned on me I was practicing some self-empathy.
When I think of self-empathy, I break it down like this: being aware of what we are feeling. Acknowledging the feeling and understanding of why we might be feeling that way. Sitting with it for a minute. Then, for me in this case, I resisted the temptation to cheerlead my way through to push for the positive.
I’ve got plenty of reasons not to be doing backflips right now and to declare myself “awesome” would be dismissing those feelings.
Taking that pause and practicing self-empathy gave me perspective on where I was on my so-called “crap-spectrum.” That is, on the spectrum of things that are horrible or great right now, where do I find myself?
While backflips might not be in order, some appreciation for all that I do have and thoughts about what others do not have at this moment made me realize that I am JUST fine.
If you tend to fall into camp cheerleader and are trying to ra ra your team, yourself, or your family into “WE ARE AWESOME!” perhaps give yourself a little break from the forced positive. Give yourself some time to get curious about how you really are doing and see where you fall on the crap-spectrum. Hopefully, with a little pause and perspective, you will be just fine with being fine.