So I’m gonna start this week’s blog with a confession.
I am a massive eavesdropper.
I love listening in on other people’s conversations.
Sit me in a café with my laptop and a standard strength latte and within minutes, my BFG (Big Friendly Giant of Roald Dahl fame) sized ears will be tuned into the conversation between Jan and Fran on the neighbouring table as they share a white chocolate and blueberry muffin (gluten free because Fran read online that gluten can cause bloating and she simply must do something about her weight before Bali!)
As the café buzzes around us, I admire the way Fran expertly dismisses Jan’s suggestion that the sheer volume of highly calorific food she consumes may be playing a bigger role in her expanding waistline. Fran’s got this; she knows. She read it on the internet. It’s definitely the gluten.
Fran picks up the last piece of muffin and without asking Jan if she wants it, pops it in her mouth. Fran adds 2 sugars to her cappuccino. It’s definitely the gluten.
It begins to rain outside. I settle in. I answer a couple of emails. I drink some coffee.
My attention turns back to Jan and Fran just as Fran finishes an epic monologue which included the words Bali, Mark, asshole and gluten and which, in the most part, I ignored.
But now it’s Jan’s turn to speak, and there’s something about her energy which piques my interest. Fran asks her how she’s been. And Jan replies with two of the most dangerous words I know.
There is a pause, long enough and still enough for me to sneak a sideways glance at Jan. She is technically smiling; the corners of her mouth turn upwards; a small shrug of her right shoulder matches the dismissive arch of her eyebrows. Her eyes are cast down and her hand absently plays with her teaspoon. The smile doesn’t reach her eyes. She is fine. Fran is satisfied and happy to assume conclusion to this conversation and so picks up the thread about Mark being an asshole again. Jan is fine. Jan nods and listens. Jan is fine.
Now I am going to pre-empt a couple of comments at this stage in the blog. Maybe you’re thinking “Em, you have no right to presume what’s going on for Jan” or “Em, you utter judgmental bitch, mind your own business” or “Em, you don’t have flappy BFG ears, just a small face that hasn’t quite caught up with some of your features.”
Whatevs! My ears are huge and let me be clear that my eavesdropping is strictly limited to public places – I don’t go around creeping on people or tapping phones. Jan and Fran are talking in a public place, on a table not 3 inches away from me and at a volume which carries over the dim of the café. If it’s private, choose a corner, speak quietly or stay home. I study human behaviour for a living, so when I see humans interact, I observe. Hell, we all do. It’s just that I bring conscious awareness to it and seek out patterns and structure so that I can better serve my clients as they get to know themselves better, unpack their shit, heal and ultimately (wait for it, gonna sound like a wanker) step back into their power (you’re welcome!)
As for my presumption about what Jan means when she says she’s fine, let me tell you what years of working with clients has taught me.
Fine is the word I see women use because they’re ashamed to admit that they want more from this life.
Fine is the word I hear when women can’t speak the disappointment they feel.
Fine is the word that women deploy when they don’t want to seem ungrateful.
Fine is a word women use to describe a feeling that is anything but fine.
Fine is a dangerous place, a bland landscape where time slithers past silently, stealthily and relentlessly until one day you realise the silence has become deafening, drowning out the voices of choice in a tide of overwhelm and indecision. And shit, you’re getting older. Daily.
Fine is the place where smiles are forced and stop at the mouth. It is a place of feeling trapped by fear and judgment. It is shame for wanting more when you have so much.
Fine is mediocracy at best.
Fine is sinister. It breads apathy, a numbing of the soul and a plateau in results.
Fine is suffocating because how do you call out for help from a place that you don’t understand yourself. How do you say, “life is fine, and I am anything but fine with that”? And who do you say it to? Fran? Your partner? Your kids? Sour face Sue from accounts? Who will understand that fine isn’t fine?
And so, Jan stays silent. Maybe if she waits it out, something will shift. Maybe if Fran keeps off the gluten, she’ll lose 12 kilos.
The waitress comes over and I order another coffee. Fran orders another muffin because it’s definitely the gluten.
Jan sits and absorbs Frans soliloquy and I want to lean over to her and say, “be angry, be hurt, be outraged, be anything but fine. Admit your disappointment so you can take some action to change it. Speak your discontent so you can own it before it consumes you. Declare your feeling of powerlessness and I promise you, immediately you will regain your power. Take some fucking control of your one precious life, because you weren’t born to be fine.”
I don’t, of course because I’m not so keen on being punched in the face on a rainy Monday in Melbourne. I turn instead to my laptop, and I write this blog. The waitress comes with my coffee and Fran’s muffin. And Jan continues to be fine.
If you’re done feeling fine then I am here to help. I can’t go around whispering unsolicited advice in the ears of Jan, but if you’re still reading then something is resonating for you and it’s probably worth doing something about!
Applications are currently open for Next Level Results, my signature program exclusively for women who are over being fucking fine, tired of plateauing in the same results and ready to ask for (and receive) more. There are limited spaces and you can find out more by following this link and having a quick chat with me personally (I’m really lovely and I’m told, quite funny so it’ll be a great way to spend 20 mins of your life!).
And if you’re all good with being fine, then thanks for reading and feel free to share this blog with friends, family and colleagues.
You can also get your ears around my podcast, Unashamedly Human and again, please share the love!
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