(Okay… not really)
As somewhat of a follow-up to the previous post, I didn’t exactly mention all the lies that I have thrown around during my life (so far). Now, confessing my lies wasn’t exactly the intent of my previous post (and if you didn’t get that, maybe you should give it another read. Oh, and if you need a explanation, what can I say other than “I’m a sinner”?). However, thinking about this aspect of my life and my struggles with it did make me think about another lie that I’m guilty of telling. If I were to rate my lies, I’d say there’s one lie in particular which stands far above all the others. Probably the biggest lie I have ever told anyone… or maybe everyone. This is probably the most frequently told lie as well. As for what draws this one out, you could blame it on this question:
How are you?
This simple and yet seemingly harmless question has caused me to utter lie after lie. Evasion and deception were frequent companions when it came to answering this.
“I’m good! How about you?”
“I’m doing okay”
“I’m alright. You?”
All of these basic and simple responses were often lies. Of course these weren’t always lies, but when they were, I’d say there a few reasons as to why I would answer this way.
Sometimes, I would simply want to avoid conversations where I was the subject. I figured by giving the most simple, vanilla, and uninteresting answer I could, they wouldn’t want to bother probing any further into how I really was doing. Saying you’re doing good without providing anything to build off of definitely makes it harder to continue the conversation along that specific topic. By removing the foundation, the bridge leading to that subject matter wouldn’t be built and alternate routes would be taken if talks were to continue.
“Who wanted to hear about how I was really doing anyway?” Thinking that way about myself was another cause that brought forth the lies. I often didn’t think my life to be that interesting as a whole. With nothing exciting to say, I might as well say nothing at all. By destroying the pillars for the building, construction wouldn’t be able to continue that direction. I guess it was something like me saying “my life is boring. Let’s talk about you or something else instead.”
Other times (and probably the most frequent of the reasons), I really didn’t think that telling the truth was worth their time. Who asks “how are you” to really find out how you’re doing anyway? Maybe it’s pessimistic to say this, but I really doubt that people are actually interested in finding that out when they ask the question. It’s probably used more as a conversation starter than it is as an actual question. If someone were to actually go into detail about how they were doing, I can picture a person responding “man, I really didn’t want to know all that. I was just saying hi” or something like that.
On some occasions, if I had actually delved into how I was doing when asked, I would have probably killed the conversation entirely right out the gates. My life has had some pretty dramatic events. I just said I was doing fine more out of courtesy. I was sparing them the ugly details, saving them from the awkwardness that would follow in saying how I was actually doing. I’m sure many people might feel the same or do something similar. Most probably wouldn’t really want to discuss their personal lives or problems with others in a casual setting, so they simply give a generic answer to get people off their backs. Who wants to tell mere acquaintances about their lives outside of work/school/etc? Nothing to see here. Carry on.
Personally, I admit that I start a lot of my conversations using “hey, how’s it going” as a greeting more than as an actual inquiry into their lives. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t want to know how the people I talk to are doing. I am definitely interested and I do want to know. It’s just that I say it more out of habit as my standard “hello” or “what’s up” or whatever. It’s not like you can just say “hi” and expect the interaction to go anywhere. It’s probably more awkward to simply leave it at “hello” and carry on with whatever you were doing. I probably wont change this common “greeting” of mine either, but I just find it interesting in terms of how I’ve actually been using it.
Now, will I stop with this particular lie? I think that this one is a little harder to “give up” than the previously mentioned ones. As a matter of fact, if you were to ask me that very question right now as I type this, I would probably honestly say “not too good” without going into detail. This would probably be one of those occasions for the “I’m alright/okay” response if I were to let my old impulses take control. I guess my answers are actually not that inaccurate… IF I followed up with a “but…” Still, I should be truthful and I’ll do my best to be honest in this area of my life. I suppose I don’t necessarily have to go into detail with everyone about how I’m doing. I think this is just a difficult one for me due to the courtesy aspect that I mentioned earlier. I mean, imagine answering a sales call by telling them about your life’s problems.
I guess I should aim to be vague rather than dishonest.
“I’m getting by.” “It’s been better.” “I’m alive.”
Or maybe I should just give an answer that’s always truthful.
“I’m blessed.” (Job 1:21, 1 Thess 5:18, Lam 3:19-23, Psalm 13)