I am going to assume that the subject line of this blog entry has no real impact on you. "How are you?" is just a three word question easily answered. Only if it were easily answered by myself.
I've had trouble with this question for the longest of times. Early on in life I observed people asking this question and by the time the person answered the asker was already several feet away. Is this an empty question that doesn't have a meeting? Is this question version 2.0 of the word hello? When I get asked this I debate these questions.
When I get asked this I panic. I still haven't come to a conclusion on if it's just a different hello, or if the person actually wants to know how I am doing. Once I have processed the question and got past the debate I then start to think whether or not the person actually wants to hear how I am doing. Often times I don't even know how I am doing!
I can't simply say fine. I've tried, but if I am not fine how can I say I am fine? Questions must be answered truthfully, and this desire to give a generic answer is part of the reason I squirm in place when asked this question. I realize that the 3-7 seconds of pure awkwardness would not happen if I said, "fine, thank you" but I can't turn off the part of the brain that is going to debate if they actually are asking, or using hello version 2.0.
As those seconds tick by at an amazingly slow pace I begin to panic. I try to find words, but they are all in hiding. "Ummm, I guess, well, I uhhhhh," is my common response up until the point that I state just the fact, "uhmmm, I, I, I'm here?" I often answer in a form of a question as if to be asking if this answer is acceptable.
I can't expect the world to avoid asking me this question. As uncomfortable as it is I find it a bit humorous that I can't adjust to just lying and saying, "I'm fine". Each person has a different expectation from this question and I am not fast enough, or apt enough, to figure out if the person means it or not. But all this is fine; and if you ever need a quick laugh just ask me this most fearsome question and watch me squirm. Go ahead, you know you want to.