Whenever I see someone who I haven’t in a while, especially if I’m back visiting my hometown, I’m always met with the question of “how’s it going?” and I never know how to answer.
I think about my life, really, and it boils down to only a few things: work, exercise/weight loss trials, my cat, the book I’m reading, and…well, that feels like that’s it. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it leaves me with only a few ways to answer the generic question. Work is always “good,” of course, because there’s no need for me to dive into specific stories about my job to someone who doesn’t work there – it requires too much backstory. My cat is “fine,” or “fat,” as usual, too. “How’s everything else?” I hardly want to go into my exercise and weight loss efforts because, even though I post about it often in this blog, I feel strange talking about it out loud.
I skimmed my recent blog posts to see if I’ve broken my “typical” pattern lately. Everything was about exercise, weight loss, eating, or a recipe. I’m sorry readers, I really, really am. I wish I had some more to talk about. Each day feels about the same. Wake up, work out, head to work, head home, maybe work out again, eat some dinner, check email, read, head to sleep. Of course, I have a social life in my new (nearly old) city, that I’m very thankful for, but we do typical things – head to the bar for a drink, see a movie, get dinner…nothing uniquely stellar. Not that I’m complaining. I like those things.
I struggled with this “problem” (which, really isn’t much of one) right as I transitioned from college to my first job, at Genesee Community College. In college, each day was different. Even though I had classes and regular club meetings, my schedule was always sprinkled with unique events, like lunch with a friend, group meetings, presentations, campus events, even studying allowed me to break from a routine. Once I started my “big girl job,” being significantly less busy, and not running from meeting to meeting, I felt a little lost.
Of course, I adjusted to my lifestyle, and filled my free time with a part time job I enjoyed, running, and friends. Suddenly, I felt busy again, and that my pattern was being broken up a little. After I moved to Albany and (dramatic) lost my social life in my first few months, I fell back into those same feelings of boredom, and that I felt that I should be doing more.
I’m back to feeling this way, which is unsurprising that it follows my visit back to my hometown this weekend. I got to see some friends who I haven’t seen in a long time, and even though so much time has passed, I still didn’t have much of a response to “how are you?” I’m not sure if this means I need a mini-change, like picking up a new hobby or just being more open with friends about the smaller, specific anecdotes of my life, but something has to happen soon.
I don’t think it’s just about how busy you are or how routine your life feels. I’ve long hated “How are you?” because it’s really just a social construct. People are making small talk, and in the vast majority of cases, don’t actually want to know how you are.
I mostly come up with a “Splendid!” or “Spiffy!” or other superlative answer in passing a coworker in the hallway or answering an acquaintance at a bar. If someone starts an IM or text conversation with me with “Hey!” and then when I respond moves on to “How are you?” I pretty much always just stop talking unless they offer something more substantive. I’m not interested if that’s all they’re going to come up with.
I always feel like I have to follow it with a story about what’s happening in my life. “Good thanks! I just finished knitting a blanket from this amazingly soft yarn I found at a flea market.” For me, normally it’s “good, I guess. Same old thing.”
I do agree that answering the question and trying to sustain a conversation over text is significantly harder than in a real conversation.