I’m not OK. I just can’t tell you that.
If you ask someone, “Are you OK?” you can break the cycle of “I’m fine.”
From having worked with men and boys for over two decades, I see the pressure on people socialized as men to keep moving and not slow down. Life feels like the running of the bulls. Any vulnerability feels like weakness.
He/They say, “I’m fine” to reassure you that they can still function as a “good cog” in the machine.
Good cogs pretend that the world is doing just great. We are better off if we don’t dwell on our feelings. Keep your head down, punch the clock, and keep buying stuff.
Even if we put on the mask of a good cog, I believe that we are all prone to “malfunction” in the current system and being labeled broken cogs.
I believe that we are looking for collaborators who can confirm that we are human beings.
Even while we have to play the game, we also seek out the other broken cogs. Those are the people with whom you are meant to do something, create something, find something, break something.
The world brings us into relationship to ask, “What are we supposed to do together?”
In our hustle culture that gives priority to running around to complete the tasks that keep bread on the table, it takes a heroic effort to stop and actually meet someone in the eye.