The Questions

There are certain questions that make me cringe when they are asked of me.  I’m sure if I spent a great deal of time thinking on it, I could come up with a massive list of questions I dread.  Frankly I could get to the point where no question is one I enjoy.  So the questions I am now going to explore are just off the top of my head.

The first cringe-worthy question is one I’m asked on a daily basis.  On the surface it seems like a fairly benign question, almost innocent and gentle.  It’s the dreaded “How are you” question or some variant of that.

WHy does this question bother me?  In part because I never know if the person is honestly asking, or asking in the polite a way.  If someone is honestly asking it means that the persons antsy an honest, authentic answer.  But most often people are just doing a polite societal norm asking.  In other words the person is expecting me to say I’m fine, or some variant regardless of the truth.  So I hate this question because it can be loaded or just an honest question and I have to weigh and sift to find the real question.

Another question I fear is “where do you see yourself in x years”, with x being any number.  I fear this question because I rarely know where I see myself a week down the road.  When you are on a journey, one with several side trips out of interest and delays etc. you can’t possible know where you will be any number of years down the road.  Sure yOu can have a general idea, but it’s a general idea based on a concept in your mind at a given time.  It isn’t written stone and yet to me once you say something about where you see yourself in x years, you are making a commitment that some people may take far more seriously than you.

By far the question that not only makes me cringe with fear and dread is “how do you identify yourself”.  I struggle with this because I don’t even know myself.  Not really.  Sure I know what I tell myself, some of it good and some of it bad, but does that mean I really know who I am?  Teacher, student, friend, coworker, child, partner, doubter, lost soul, broken, confused, lover, and so on.  Labels that I apply to myself, labels that are part of the descriptions to some of my facets, but what do those words mean?  Am I the sum of my experiences with the additions of various influences and learnings?  I hope not.

Part of me hopes I can never answer this question because it means I’m still learning and growing as a person.  It also means the path to finding my authentic self continues to wind through the land.  And there is a romance of sorts to this!  Or perhaps I want to believe that this is the case so I don’t have to commit to any thing.

how do you answer theses questions?  Do you fear or embrace them?  Am I reading too much into them?


11 thoughts on “The Questions

  1. I get asked the first question a lot. I always say ‘not too bad thanks’!! I am never well, always in some degree of pain and exhausted but like you I wonder if they really want to know, on the other hand I don’t want to lie and say ‘fine thanks!’ . I find that most people will say ‘oh that’s good’ but if they really want to know, usually people I am closer to, they will say ‘how are you really?!!’ I suppose a lot of the time it is just a way of saying hello and being polite, I mean do they really want a list of all my ailments!! X

  2. I love that you are asking questions about these questions. Unfortunately there are no easy answers. Keep writing, processing and healing!

  3. The other day, just minutes after I was laid off, a woman who was walking in the same direction that I was asked me repeatedly where I worked. That was hard.
    I’ve also been asked how much I make in a year – I hate to answer this because it opens a person to scrutiny whether it is a lot or a little.
    In my mind though, the worst kind of question is a personal one when asked by someone who has no regular stake in your life. That’s just mining for gossip.

  4. Before I forget though, a friend wiser than I told me to handle hard questions with a question of your own: Why do you want to know? I don’t always remember to ask, but it certainly makes a person examine their motivations.

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