Synonyms for "Fine"

The question always begins with a soft knock on the door and a selection from a menu of opening phrases.


“Good morning.”


“Hey.”


“Do you have a second?”


Any number of faces could appear, half exposed by doors and the underwear line of a mask. Eyes emerge; then, the question comes.


“How are you doing?”


That was never an easy question, before working at home, before returning to the office, because it always required navigating the status of each relationship to deliver the varying degrees of detail in the answer. How much time does the person have? How close are we? How close do I want to be at this time, in this place with the time I have?


Still, prior to the pandemic, it was somehow easier to ignore those implications afterwards. Now, that question hangs in the air longer than an allergic sneeze maybe laced with COVID and stifled inside a floral decorated cloth.


“How are you doing?”


The question seems an affront, another broken social contract.


“How are you doing?”


The question is a metaphor. It is an indicator. Mostly, it is a phrase comprised with words uncertain of their next steps.


“How are you doing?”


“Fine.” The word can be an answer.


Levels. Layers.


“Fine?” The word can be a question so that someone else can sort out new benchmarks and standards that are constantly emerging.


This week feeling a little more alone, after another less than satisfactory encounter with the question, I Google, “synonyms for fine”. The answers are unexpected and expose another inconsistency in our current interactions and understanding of what it all means.

Fine apparently means,





It isn’t as if my closest matches don’t make the list. However, I’m taken aback by how far down words like “fair”, “passable” and “tolerable” are.


I Google “okay” instead.



This search is closer to finding the center of my reality, especially with the final phrase alluding to physical and mental state. A ready example from earlier in the week easily comes to mind. After a community program, my only available description was voiceless. I scrunch my face and hover my hand over my stomach. “I need to find a way to be okay with-”My hand circles the definition. “This,” I add.


I’m not fine answering ‘fine’. I’m not fine with the synonyms for ‘fine’. I need a better word, for my supervisors and for my friends. Both have been the victims of ‘fine’. Yet, no matter how many victims arise, no one is really talking about the lack of definition of a mental health reality that defines so many.


The answer arrives from a peripheral relationship in conversation with a colleague. “You’re languishing. Do you know the word?” she asks.


“Yes,” I nod. But apparently like ‘fine’, I never connected with it, nor it to me.


My Google search reveals,


If a picture is worth a thousand words, so too, is the screenshot of the synonym for ‘fine’ I had been searching for.


“Languishing,” I roll the word over my tongue. I allow the definition to vibrate against my skin. “Languishing.” I sense empowerment in the opportunity to be more precise when asked the guaranteed question on Monday.


I watch the Ted Talk https://www.ted.com/talks/adam_grant_how_to_stop_languishing_and_start_finding_flow


I am suddenly attending the party apparently everyone is at without knowing we were invited. I learn about ‘toxic positivity’ and the value of ‘flow’. According to Grant, the value of flow is that it requires active participation in the real world, which is probably why working on organizing closets is so meaningful right now. It hits all three of Adam Grant’s three ‘M’s. I message family and friends to share the discovery of my new synonym for ‘fine’.


Most importantly, I know when the door knock comes on Monday morning, I actually will be “fine” securing my mask across my face to answer. One word, a synonym for ‘fine’, changes my outlook, because my answer will remove a barrier that has been much more stifling, the act of answering without answering, and often, not telling the truth.


“I’m languishing.”


And all of you, who may be reading this, "how are you doing?"


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