When people ask “how are you” I genuinely don’t know what to say most of the time. Instinctively, I say “good” because my business brain was trained to operate that way. Somewhere along the way, I learned that I shouldn’t tell anyone what’s really going on. That question wasn’t meant for a real answer.
Actually, I know exactly where it happened. It’s how I grew up, and I know I brought it to work. Family secrets were just that - secrets. We didn’t talk about what was really going on. I was told to mind my business.
A few addictions and untimely deaths later, the consequences of shame and secrets were piling up. I was scared to learn that the rules that told me to keep it all in could kill me, too.
But at work, we have to be different, right?
There’s this double-standard between life and work. Everywhere else in the world, they tell you to “be your true self.” The second you go to work, the rules change. You have to be something different - to succeed, fit in, and get the salary you deserve. We hide instinctively, feeding ourselves lies, and lines that never saved us from anything in the first place. At some point, we convince ourselves there’s a great outcome on the other side if only we can hide enough to be enough.
“Your personal life is personal.”
“Take care of your issues off the clock.”
“They don’t care.”
Here’s the reality. Your secrets aren’t propelling your career. Staying quiet hasn’t saved you from bad things. When I started my first corporate job, I hid who I loved. Even today, I catch myself hiding personal news and mental health struggles despite knowing the truth: the secrets didn’t save me. They won’t save you either.
If you want to find a saving grace in all of this, it won’t come from the secrets. You have to open your arms, not close yourself off. It’s about finding people you trust and holding on to the feeling that everything will be ok when it washes over you, however long it lasts.
It starts with answering when people ask how you’re doing and not just saying, “good.” Your truth matters, too.
So, yes. I’m asking. If you want to tell me how you’re actually doing, I hope you’ll hit reply.
P.S. Reply and read these 3 articles, while you’re at it.