Hello, how are you? I’ve been wondering if after all this time you’d like to come to terms with the fact that there’s more to being alive than just being “fine”. What is “fine” really? Than a diversion, from all the things that actually consume us from within. We’ve reduced people to a mockery, turning “how are you” into the topmost unfunny joke. Punchline being the default… “I’m fine.” What do you mean you’re fine? With all these things flooding your senses literally leaving you defenseless to whatever episodic breakdown visits you next. Yet here you are forfeiting the right to calling these feelings your own. Burying them. Hence you forget these are seeds you’re planting, with no chance of withering and ignorance is just the right condition to make them thrive and sprout into something beyond your level of control.


Photo courtesy: Pinterest

Why limit your vocabulary when it comes to the spectrum of emotions though? Can’t you just be? Confused, depressed, overwhelmed, hurt, frustrated, aggravated, disheartened, bitter, broken, even misunderstood. These are all valid responses but yeah, being the people we are, anything outside the checkbox “fine” is wrong and must be disapproved. So, we have this entire generation of people walking around with these big beautiful smiles but looking at their eyes, sad, dim and kind of dead on the inside.

There’s this piece that always speaks volumes to me by the amazing Nashiha Pervin:

“And after comedians hung themselves after telling their last joke, and the girl who cut herself to death after healing everyone else’s bruises, and the boy who died of dark mental trauma despite having such a bright future ahead. It was only after that, when they asked me to look around and pinpoint what depression looked like, my eyes always turned to observe the happiest person in the room.”

That’s the problem with us; constantly waiting for things to get to extremes. The only time we admit to the existence of a problem is after the damage is already done. 

Everyone wants to portray that they have it all together. Just look at our social media pages. Showcasing how perfect our lives are. It’s in this picture we’ve painted of ourselves for people out there to admire that we’re desperately clinging onto, where it all comes crumbling down.

Unlike the nature of promises, we aren’t immune to change. With each new experience comes a new version of you. Every day comes with its baggage, you’ll be elated in some, being readily open to new experiences and in some you’ll barely be seeing the need to go on. That’s the beauty of life though, each day is a new battle and with every victory comes another level of self-discovery.

Some animals carry their shelter everywhere they go, and some humans, like me, are just the same. But with the rise of the insomniacs, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression and other mental illnesses, do the brave uncomfortable thing and let someone into your shell. Just one. It’s going to be really tight and uncomfortable, I’ll give you that, but these are tough choices you should be willing to make. All in the name of loving yourself.

Without a doubt, there is a need for boundaries but I do stand firm on that we need to improve our lines of communication. Small-talk is an epidemic whose notion needs to be destroyed. Foster deeper connections and understanding with one another. For a start, just let that friend know you’re there for them, this really helps.

Everyone wants to come off as strong, and that’s how we end up keeping this toxicity to ourselves. Our perception of strength is what ends up destroying us. Embrace that there is a different kind of strength that comes with admitting that you’ve fallen, you’re broken and you need a hand. From what I’ve discovered, people are much nicer than we give them credit for. Strangers who have never even met you are ready to help. So know when you need help and be open to asking for it. People will often surprise you.

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Photo courtesy: ineverything.ca

Ultimately, it’s okay not to be okay, but never should it ever be because you weren’t brave enough to ask for help. The next time someone cares enough to genuinely ask about your well-being, promise you won’t be hypocritical and actually pour your heart out. What keeps you up at night? I want to know. And before I forget, for real now…How are you?

care, change, deep, Depression, happy, How are you, mental illness, not alone, okay, self love, strength

Hassan Kassim

Hassan Kassim is a Mombasa-based Creative non-fiction writer, recently longlisted for the Toyin Falola prize, blogger and translator of Kiswahili work. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa and the European Union(E.U), and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management. Hassan writes about the ill-documented Communities of Coastal Kenya. His work has appeared in Writers Space Africa; his 2 non-fiction stories published in the anthology 'Twaweza,' a collaborative effort of 12 African writers on the African identity and set to appear in the forthcoming anthology for the Toyin Falola prize.

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Hassan Kassim is a Kenyan-based Creative non-fiction writer, blogger and translator of Kiswahili works with over 2 years of experience. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa, and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management.


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