Person holding a smiley face sign in front of their face while shrugging

It's for the Best... But Is It?

People always ask how I’m doing, and for a while I’d say “Great!” or “Fine!” or even “Super-de-duper awesome and great ok!” Not that last one, obviously, I’m not a puppet show host, but you get the idea. I wouldn’t let people in on how I really feel. After a while, I just got tired of lying and I would tell people the truth… ish.

I mean, I didn’t want them to walk away crying and shaking, so I would tone it down some, but if I wasn’t great I’d say “Eh, ups and downs,” or “Tryin’ my best,” or “I hate everything and please kill me with a rusty spoon.” Again, not that last one. Either way, in order to leave people without feeling like I really did say that last one, I always end with “It’s for the best.”

I’m Mr. Forthe Best

“It’s for the best.” I say it so often that some people probably think it’s my name. They think I’m Mr. Forthe Best. Or maybe Mr. F. Orthe Best. Or just “FB” to mah peeps. “I have to have another surgery.. but it’s for the best.” “I ended up getting divorced… but it’s for the best!” “My arm fell off… but it’s for the best! I was tired of carrying it around anyway.” Things that happen to me, according to others at least, are always for the best – but are they really?

Why do I keep saying that?

It hit me other day just how often I say this phrase. I was talking to a customer service rep on the phone, like you do, and everyone knows with phone strangers you have to be nice so they will help you and you do that by asking them about stuff that you couldn’t care less about. Like how the weather is wherever they are, and what sports teams there that they like, and that you also know a “Jenna” and how interesting that is that two people in the world have the same name. Neat!

It started to sound silly after a while

This inevitably leads to talk about yourself, and that means my illness. I must have said “It’s for the best” at least ten separate times. The more she kept saying “I’m sorry,” the more I kept saying “It’s fine, it’s for the best.” Towards the end it was getting silly: anyone listening to the call could have easily thought we were two of those robot phone answering programs that got stuck in a loop. You know, the ones that call you during dinner and on Sunday morning and say “Hi, I’m Rebecca, oh hold on a minute I have to adjust my mic..” Yeah, nice try robot, I know you’re not a real Rebecca. Fool me five times, shame on me; fool me six times or more…

Do I downplay my rheumatoid arthritis?

After that, I really began to wonder why I say it. Am I just trying to be nice and not leave people with a depressing image? Am I really embarrassed by my RA? Do I enjoy sparkling wordplay? So many different reasons, but I think the answer is actually D. All of the above… or… All of the before this, depending on how your web page displays.

I don't want people to feel pity when talking to me

First, I do try to leave people better than I found them, I really do. I know that’s an antiquated notion in these days of rapper Twitter wars and the Kardashians, but it’s true. I want people to say that when they were done talking to me, they felt better. That they felt like the world was a tiny bit less cold. That they realized the true breadth of creation and it was good and that the universe was filled with light that could conquer any darkness and lift up even the most troubled soul.

Or maybe, just not hate-like the pics of that perfect couple on Facebook for a day or two. You know, either or. The point is, I never want someone to walk away feeling pity, or sadness, or go on Instagram and post backhanded compliments on that same perfect couple’s pics from their recent vacation to a Martha’s Vineyard commercial. Apparently.

Am I embarrassed by my rheumatoid arthritis?

Am I embarrassed by my RA? That’s the real head-scratcher, isn’t it? Is that why I’m always playing it down? Honestly, I don’t think I’m embarrassed by my RA, that’s not the right word. The right word is more like a combination between inconspicuousness and unpitiable. Inconspitiable? Yeah, that works.

No, I'd rather people not know the full extent of RA so immediately

Now, I’m sure some of you are saying, “But Dan, worrying about being inconspicuous and not wanting people to pity you is pretty much the definition of being embarrassed” to which I say, “Shut up Mr. Webster (from dictionary fame)” It’s not embarrassment, but it is a form of not wanting people to know the full extent of the disease in one go. The entirety of chronic illness is a heck of a big meal to swallow in a single sitting. Talking about RA has to be less like Thanksgiving dinner and more like tapas on a summer night out.

Should I start lying again?

So why don’t I just start lying again and tell people I’m, “Fine,” or “OK,” or “Right as rain guvna!” Well, not that last one because I’m not a chimney sweep in 19th century London, and not the other two because I always feel like it’s not going to come across as genuine and part of my whole schtick is trying your best to be genuine, as much as humanely possible.

Staying genuine without the gory details

Yes, I meant humanely, not humanly, because it’s humane not to overload people with the gory details and leave them sobbing softly into their gelato. That’s something I never want anyone to feel, healthy or otherwise. That means I try to be as genuine as possible without cutting too deep in almost all situations (for first dates, alternate side of the street genuineness is suspended). I believe this is why people respond to me in such a positive way, both my readers and in person. Also, I’m suuuuuuper modest. OMG, I'm like the humblest.

Maybe things do work out for the best

It’s an interesting turn of phrase, “It’s for the best.” Isn’t it? Probably not, but then again, maybe it is. You can’t really know that until it works out or you’re dead. If it’s the second one, you won’t care, and if it’s the first, well, then you guessed right. That’s not really the point, though. It’s that you have to believe that things do work out for the best, because if not, what is the point? I know, heady stuff, but if you really believe that things do work out for the best, I’ve found they kind of start to. Talk soon.

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