Sometimes We’re Unfine…and That’s Fine

How many micro conversations do we have in a week? Not every chat can be epic and deep and cathartic, but how often are our conversations the complete opposite? Short, shallow and suppressive. There are definitely people who have more of a need to express themselves through words (sup. That’s me.), and those who process life differently.

I’ve had many-a-talk I realized I cut short because we were headed towards deeper territory or I just started talking about myself and cut off a friend’s opportunity to share a life struggle. Ugh, I hate myself in those moments.

I tend to talk more than I listen and that’s a weakness I’ll need to work on for life. But those who don’t wear their heart on their sleeve seem to be really good listeners and balance out the bleeding hearts of the world.

My high school best friends and I always considered ourselves deep talkers, which makes me chuckle now because of how little life experience we had. Not to say teenagers can’t have deep thoughts, but they are amplified by how small your world is in high school. Just going through awkward adolescence with friends constructs a tight bond, but you’re not really aware of how friendships are strengthened then. It just happened through shared thoughts and experiences.

When my 50 closest friends from the UA swim team began to migrate away from Tucson, I was sad. I mourned the loss of good friends and panicked about having to make new ones, because friendship up until that point of life had been effortless. “I need to get a job with a team of great people I’d like to hang out with on the weekends” was my thought. Well, I’ve never found that new circle of friends through a job. I was naive to think there was such a thing as a team of 30 best friends in every season of life.

It does make me think I took those years of best swim friends for granted. As you age up, friendship gets more laborious. Swim friends were just like playground friends– oh, you like kickball/the isolating sport of swimming too? Let’s be friends. 

I just finished Lisa-Jo Baker’s book “Never Unfriended”. She writes candidly about the weird thoughts that enter our minds when we’re around other women. It’s like we have the ability to revert back to our 7th grade selves at any stage of life– a curse. Baker confesses that she has not dressed to impress a man since she was dating her husband 17 plus years back. Now she dresses well occasionally on a girl’s night out, to collect a few treasured compliments from her female peers.

I’ve related to so much of this book, it’s tough to pluck out one particularly relevant chapter because it’s all overwhelmingly relevant. But one recurring theme of hers is letting go of your fineness. We’re always “fine”. It’s a great way to bring an immediate halt to a conversation. And yeah, you’re likely not going to pour your hurts out to the neighbor you just met, but if you’re like me, your pains just grow by ricocheting around in your head.

I don’t often share what’s not fine in my life because it seems unfair to bog someone else down with my struggles, because everyone has their own burdens, right? But sometimes sharing our hurts can be gateways to incredible friendships. Or can be precisely what a friend needed to hear to open up.

I made a resolution I haven’t really kept in my last post, so here’s another lofty one…to be a better friend, not on Instagram but in the flesh. Social media comments are nice, but there’s really nothing like a face-to-face heart-to-heart over some sinfully decadent coffee drink.

There are always things in the way…I can always find a reason not to call a friend back or host a party or commit to a friend date. Lately, my excuse is Skylar. Not to say she’s not a legitimate excuse on some days, but I know plenty of moms who are busier than me or have more kids than I do who still find time to be great friends.

My sister-in-law Katie is a great example. She’s the mother of four kids under the age of 10, but when Hurricane Harvey hit her parents’ and dear friend’s houses hard, she found a way to help, every Tuesday and Thursday…for months on end. Katie was trapped in her house during the floods surrounding Harvey, and she couldn’t wait for the water to recede so she could go help.

If you’re looking for more inspiration to take action (because I always am…), find a way to see the film Mully. The subjects of the film, Charles and Esther Mully, had every reason to be content– they were wealthy Kenyans, raising seven healthy kids in a home with every luxury. But in 1989, Mully sold all of his assets and began dedicating his life to taking in abandoned children off the streets. Since 1989, Charles and Esther (and their seven biological kids) have helped 23,000 orphans live productive, enriching lives. The story is awe-inspiring. Matt and I both left the theater feeling like we can always do more. Mully became a father figure to thousands. He cared deeply about their hurts but also longed to help these kids find a way out of their present struggles. He’s a friendship hero. A guy who loves and loves and loves and his love drives him to act.

It’s fine to be unfine. And it’s good to be unfine around those who care about all the things that make us unfine. Because even Chip and Joanna have messy days…we just don’t see those. It’s gotta be overwhelming to have a HGTV empire built on domestic perfection though. Like is the Farmhouse ever messy? And can the Gaines fam ever have people over when it is?

I’d like to be more OK with my own mess (literally and figuratively), not to the point that people come over and feel claustrophobic and buried, but just so they feel comfortable bringing in a little dirt on their shoes and unloading any heavy burdens they’ve been bearing.


  1. Corey Chandler

    I loved this article, Annie. It IS fine to be unfine. And it was helpful to me to be reminded that transparency about our woes can actually encourage others to open up about theirs, and ultimately have a healing effect. There's something really uplifting about realizing I'm not the only one who has a particular struggle. God loves this honesty, because He is light and made us in His image to thrive in the light, where nothing can be distorted or hidden; everything in the light is seen as it truly is.

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