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  • Writer's pictureTori Leto

How Are You?

So often we answer the routine question, “how are you?” With the reflex we’ve been trained to perform our entire lives, “good, you?”. When in fact, I could dispute with immense confidence that 'good' doesn’t begin to cover how you are truly feeling. But we’ve been conditioned and shamed into believing that 'good' is all we can say to the mere stranger, co-worker, or neighbor. What if we challenged the status quo of civility? 


“How are you?” … “I need help.” The fear of honesty here is vast. 'What if they think less of me', 'what if they think I’m a complainer?' 'They don’t care, why burden or bother telling them the truth?' Well there’s a few reasons why I’d challenge you to be honest. 


1- By being honest you are starting a conversation of vulnerability. Vulnerable conversations can be more productive because they often lead to greater understanding, empathy, and connection between people. When individuals are open and honest about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, it creates an environment where deeper insights can be gained, and meaningful solutions can be developed. This openness can also foster trust and collaboration, ultimately leading to more effective communication and problem-solving.


2- You’re creating an opportunity not just for yourself but for others to feel seen, heard, and appreciated. Vulnerable conversation starters can be good for others because they can help build trust and deepen relationships. When someone initiates a vulnerable conversation, it signals to the other person that they are willing to be open and authentic, which can encourage the other person to do the same. This can lead to more meaningful and fulfilling interactions, as both parties feel more understood and connected. Additionally, vulnerable conversations can help break down barriers and stigma around certain topics, leading to greater awareness and understanding among individuals.


3- Vulnerable conversations can lead to change by fostering empathy, understanding, and connection among individuals. When people share their vulnerabilities, it can humanize complex issues and help others see things from different perspectives. This can lead to greater awareness and empathy, which are key drivers of social change. Additionally, vulnerable conversations can inspire action by motivating people to address issues that they may have previously ignored or been unaware of. By creating a sense of solidarity and shared purpose, vulnerable conversations can mobilize individuals and communities to work together towards positive change.


To effectively convey this message, I must first embody it myself.


“How are you?” … “I feel … lost? Disappointed? Frustrated? … Defeated.” 

Defeated is the word I’d use to describe my current stagnant state. A year ago I invested the money into forming a nonprofit. A lofty goal many secretly and openly condemned for being overly ambitious and borderline frivolous. Now, I feel like they were right. It’s easy to boast, but I am struggling to continue to maintain the facade.


I’ve always been type A. The one with a plan, and a back up plan, and another. A to-do list rivaling the length of a CVS receipt. But right now? Blank, crumpled, or tossed to the side are my journals and to do lists. I have passion, purpose, and goals, but no plan. This isn’t from a lack of trying, but a debilitating fear of the vastness of what I need to do with a lack of how to do it. All engulfed by a feeling of imposter syndrome that I couldn’t achieve it, especially not alone, which I feel currently.


“TMI Tori” … *Valid*. This could be viewed as being ‘too real’. “Confession is good for the soul but bad for the image”. This quote always irked me. Why as a society have we idolized the need to curate the perfect image? It just perpetuates insecurity for others and ourselves. Maintaining an image robs us of our individuality, authentic connection, and the opportunity to genuinely inspire others. I hope that this percieved "overzealous plea for attention" reminds you that you can admit when you need help, That you can answer 'how are you' with the self-assurance of a warrior who has faced their battles and emerged victorious, knowing that authenticity is the ultimate triumph against a system that seeks to suppress sincerity.

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