Yemi: How are you my dear friend
Danielle: (With a sad sigh and a tired look)….I am fine dear
Yemi: You don’t look alright, is everything fine?
Danielle: (Exhales deeply)…It is well my friend
Yemi: With a more concerned look, probes further….Are you sure everything is well?
Danielle: I am fine, just that things have been quite bad lately, my health is deteriorating,my rent is due in a month and I do not have a dime to my name and my shop which is my only source of income is lacking sales.So many negative things happening at the same time and I don’t know what to do.


Hmmm…..have you ever experienced the scene that I just described?
A quick look at Danielle who has a lot of things troubling her mind but when asked if everything is fine,says yes.
    Is this a clear case of pretence or optimism?Does it hurt to express the exact Way we feel? Do you think that you will be judged or look down on if you tell people how you feel?
  The I am fine phrase has become a popular chant amongst Nigerians.Oh, you bumped into your friend who has been sick for some time and you try to inquire about her health and she replies  “I am fine but I’ve been sick for some time now, I’m even on my way from the hospital where I went for treatment. …What sort of contrasting reply is that? Can a sick person be fine at the same time?
  I am a very optimistic person but I think there is a great difference between optimism and pretence. Do not put on a facade all in the name of creating an impression of being well when in actual fact you are not.
An optimistic Danielle,would have simply replied Yemi’s greeting by saying “so many things are happening at the same time, challenges everywhere but I know it will be sorted out pretty soon”
  I am guilty of the “I am fine” syndrome,there are times that I am at my lowest points in life and instead of talking about it with other people,I put on the “I am fine” front.When in reality, I’m very “unfine” and i often lean towards depression whenever I do this.
  If we continue giving the false impression of being fine, of everything being perfect even when we are in dire need for some sort of help,how then do we get the much needed help. It is not a sign of defeat or weakness when we accept the fact that things are not going well, it’s just accepting that things could go the other way in life.Thats just the basic truth about life.
  Never assume a person is fine simply because they say they are, this in most cases is never true,you will be surprised to know that the person desperately needs help and someone to talk to.Look at them very well, study their countenance,are they fidgety?Do they look scared or moody?.
   Do not have the attitude of “shebi she said she is fine what is my own”.Instead,strike a conversation with the person,tell a story of people who have succeeded again all odds,advice the person.Do not insist on knowing what’s wrong if she doesn’t want to talk about it.Do not appear as though you just want to poke your nose where it does belong, few words of encouragement may just be all that the person needs to open up to talk about what they are passing through with you.
   A person who commits suicide or attempted to, didn’t just wake up one day and decide to end his life,if you enquire more, you will notice such person have had bottled-up emotions which they refused to talk about.


  If you come across a friend tomorrow and he gives you the “I am fine, thank you” slogan, pause and take a second look.He may not be fine in the real sense of the word.You just might be saving a life,all he needs may just be someone who understands what he is passing through, you will be surprised at the magic your words of encouragement will work.


  1. Kehinde Ake

    I like how you used this simple narrative to delineate pretence and optimism. People respond more in this manner from a religious standpoint. They feel if you admit negativity, you attract it. So when it’s not well, with them, they still deny the pitiable state and cling to the wishful. The import of your post is to impress it on us to share with others our problems. The Urhobos say ” Person when go bath you when you die, you no dey hide nakeness from am”.

    1. Onome Oseha (Post author)

      True talk my brother…..If only lots of people learn to say things the way they are.Thanks for dropping your opinion.


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