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You’re Doing Just Fine

Or so I was told by a therapist years ago, and it’s something that’s stuck with me.

How’re you doing? Oh, just fine.

Otherwise known as: Frightened. Insecure. Neurotic. Emotional.

Or so I was told by a therapist years ago, and it’s something that’s stuck with me. Because, really, what do we mean when we say fine? 

Not fine as in I’m in fine fettle, because who even knows what being in a fettle is (or what a bad one would look like), and also most of us aren’t characters in a novel of the bucolic English countryside. We pretty much never mean fine as in we’re not raining (although rain’s certainly a possibility), or fine as in a we’re a good vintage or exceptionally well made. We probably don’t even mean that we’ve got the opposite of coarse manners, or that our tailoring is particularly good.

i'm fine, everything is fine, not okay, self-care, mental health, life

It seems this meme is never not relevant.

Although, if we mean how small we feel we’ve been ground at the moment, that might be coming a little closer to the truth. Or how thinly we’ve been sliced – how close to the margin of error things feel everywhere. Yeah, maybe those. That’s starting to feel a little more like what I mean when I say fine. 

Frightened. Insecure. Neurotic. Emotional. That sort of fine is, I think, a pretty good approximation of what many of us mean when we say fine.

How’re you holding up? Fine. I don’t know what else the world’s going to throw at me, or how I’ll be able to handle it when it comes. I don’t want to look at the news or social media, but I can’t help it. I’m exhausted. My heart hurts. I’m fine.

How’s getting back to normal going? Fine. None of it feels normal. Everyone’s just pretending, including me. Nothing’s as it was, and I don’t know when it will be, if ever. But it’s fine.

Can you just do this? You don’t mind, do you? No, it’s fine. I can barely breathe some days, and just getting through a phone call makes me want to lie down for a year, but it’s fine. I’m fine.

i'm fine, everything is fine, not okay, self-care, mental health, life

Or this GIF.

That sort of fine. And there’s always that same sense that we’re doing well considering. That so many people have things harder (and this is often, if not always, true), and that we have so little to complain about really, and we have so much to be thankful for, and so even raising our own not-really-fine-ness seems … shallow. Self-absorbed. Trivial. 

Which it’s not. Not being fine, not being okay, isn’t the realm of everyone else. It’s the realm of all of us. Most of us are not okay, most of us are not fine. And denying that because we know others are more not-okay and more not-fine helps no one. We are allowed to be not okay ourselves, and it in no way diminishes the fact that others are not okay too. Denying our reality only means we make it harder for ourselves – and for others who look at us and think, well, they seem to be doing okay, so I should Just Get My Act Together. Admitting things are not right won’t cause the sky to fall. It’ll allow us to actually work toward making things better, even just in the simple (and monumental) step of saying to ourselves, this is not working. This is not fine. What do I need to do to help myself through? 

i'm fine, everything is fine, not okay, self-care, mental health, life

It’s a start.

This is, of course, scary and big work. Admitting we’re not fine, even to ourselves, goes against so much of what we’ve been taught and have observed. But, once again, we’re not characters in a certain genre of English novel. We do not need to keep a stiff upper lip. We need to care for ourselves not only for our own health, but also so we can care for others, and maybe even show someone else who’s fine-ing that not being fine isn’t the end of the world – but pretending we are when we’re not can feel like it.

And here’s something else, lovely people – you really are doing just fine. Fine as in a sunny day, fine as in a work of art, fine as in an excellent vintage. Because you are here. Because you’re keeping going. Because you’re doing just fine as in frightened or insecure or neurotic or emotional, but still you’re sitting up and facing the world. Maybe not every day. Maybe not even all the days. But every moment is a triumph.

i'm fine, everything is fine, not okay, self-care, mental health, life

Art by thelatestkate.tumblr.com/

You got out of bed this morning? Win.

You got dressed? You’re doing awesome.

You went to work, or did the jobs you needed to do, or interacted with people on the phone or in real life? You’re an absolute warrior.

Survival is a triumph, every time. And the last long and complicated eighteen months or so have been extra hard on everyone. All the little everyday struggles have been wound up and exacerbated, turning even something as simple as a supermarket run into an ordeal for some and an impossibility for others. Nothing has been fine. Nothing has been easy. Nothing has been okay.

But you, lovely people, are doing just fine.

You are surviving.

You are making your way in the world however you can. 

i'm fine, everything is fine, not okay, self-care, mental health, life

Art by chibird.com

Need to stay in bed and shut reality out with a book or a movie, or sleep like a hedgehog building its strength for a return to the world? Perfect. Build that strength. Curl in on your own, glorious, prickly little self and do what you need to do to care for you. 

Does it feel too much to shower, or pointless to get dressed? Awesome. Prioritise. Use your energy wisely. PJs are a valid style choice these days anyway. 

No choice but to go out into the world? You can do this. Breathe. You are strong and glorious and absolutely fine as in honed to perfection. Do your thing, and give yourself what you need, whether that means going through the motions and getting home again as soon as you can, or finding a friend who recharges you for lunch or coffee or simply an exchange of silly memes. 

You are doing just fine.

And yes, fine can mean so many things, not all of them good. But fine also means surviving. Fine means you’re holding on, even though we’re all tired and ground down and broken. Fine means you’ve got this, lovely people.

Fierce. Indomitable. Notable. Extraordinary.

You’re doing just fine. 

i'm fine, everything is fine, not okay, self-care, mental health, life

covid, everything is fine, happiness, I'm fine, mental health, pandemic, self care

  1. Simply a lovely and inspiring post. Thank you! I needed that. (And here, to make you laugh, the naughty acronym for FINE shared by a friend’s therapist years ago: F****** In Need of Everything!)

    1. Kim Watt says:

      Oh, I like that one, too! The same therapist as told me this one also had a more NSFW one – F****d up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. I think she told me the polite one on the first session, then once we knew each other better it escalated!

      And I’m so glad you liked the post. I think there’s a real sense that we’re almost filling the world back to normal, and that we should *feel* normal at the moment. And it’s just not that quick or easy. Look after you! ❤️

  2. K Corrello says:

    Thank you! We all need to hear this at times. It is wonderful to be understood and supported. I appreciate having the positive acronym too!

    1. Kim Watt says:

      I’m so glad it connected with you! We do definitely need to hear that we’re allowed to be not okay and still be whole. That it’s *part* of being whole, really. I hope you’re doing the best sort of fine out there – and thank you for taking the time to comment ❤️

  3. Carolyn Saunders says:

    I thought I was doing pretty well until I sat on a full plane wearing a face mask for several hours. Then I felt decidedly “off”. It has taken a couple of days to get some balance back

    1. Kim Watt says:

      Hugs to you. There are definitely certain situations that really bring home the fact that things are Not As They Were, and, especially when we’ve been coping pretty well through the whole thing, it’s quite intense when we’re forced into them. I hope you’re feeling more yourself now. Look after you! The dragons need you ❤️

  4. Cathy Murray says:

    I am always cheered by your messages. Thanks Cathy

    1. Kim Watt says:

      Aw, I’m so glad they help. Thank you for commenting! ❤️

  5. MARIE CORDALIS says:

    It is I’ve found, a “knee jerk” reaction to reply “oh I’m fine” whenever anyone asks how I’m doing. I think partly because I’m never sure if they really care or if it’s just the thing to ask. Thank you so much for always being that wonderful voice that reminds me that no matter what my inner dialogue says, it’s okay to not be fine. Because I’m really struggling to be and it’s really scary that I can’t even remember sometimes what “normal” is, or rather was 🙁 We’ve all been through a lot of changes lately I think and I wish there were more people like you in the world. Being positive instead of negative.

    1. Kim Watt says:

      I’m so sorry you’re struggling at the moment – it’s so tough and so understandable. Things are not easy, and as much as we all want things to just be better and normal-ish, it’s not as simple or straightforward as we’d all have liked. I hope you’re being gentle with yourself and giving yourself what space you can to just be, and adjust, and be good to you. It really is absolutely okay to not be okay, both right now and always. Sending you all the hugs and strength, and thank you so much for your lovely words. Knowing I might be helping, even a little, helps me! ❤️

  6. Great acronyms! I’m so fine these days I need a tattoo on my forehead, “KMAGYOYO”, Kiss my ass goodbye, you’re on your own. I occasionally answer, “Wonderful, I’m moving to Mars”, or, “Let’s go with a firm meh!”, and sometimes I even sorta smile. You do help a lot, Kim, knowing even somebody as talented and creative as you can be FINE. Now I can go with a firm, “Meh-plus, thank you.” TCSS!

    1. Kim Watt says:

      “A firm meh” is a wonderful and honest response – I love it! It really does help to be a bit more honest about these things, at least to ourselves. And I’m so glad you liked the new acronyms. I feel we should just adapt them all to our own circumstances! Thank you for your lovely words – if it helps even a little, I’m happy!

  7. Lexi Price says:

    I so needed this! Thank you. FINE kept me from FEAR (f*** everything and run) long enough that things settled themselves. Again, thank you.

    1. Kim Watt says:

      I’m so glad it connected with you! Sometimes we just need these little reminders that we’re doing so much better than we give ourselves credit for. Just getting through is such a big and wonderful thing ❤️

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