Anas Bukhash: "How are you really doing?"
The title of my Esquire Middle East debut is a question that I have given a lot of thought to over the past few years. From the introduction line in an e-mail, to the first question we might ask someone when we walk into the office, the phrase ‘How are you?’ has become an ever-present part of everyday conversation.
But at the same time, it offers very little when it should do the exact opposite if asked with the intent to truly listen. As a society, we feel compelled to offer generic replies. We say we are ‘Fine’ or ‘Okay’, and move on to a different subject.
When I launched my show, #ABtalks, in 2018, I wanted to offer a platform that dug beneath social performance and rhetoric. I wanted to offer honest conversations with celebrities, athletes, influencers and achievers, which reveal the ‘raw’ and ‘real’ side of their lives, and ultimately, what connects us all; our common human experience. I try to do this by starting each Chapter (read: episode) with the same simple question: “How are you really doing?”
As a society I believe it is one we need to ask more often. If we each committed to one conversation a day, or even one conversation a week, in which we asked someone in our circle how they are really doing, I honestly believe we would see a ripple effect of change within our communities. I think there is a big appetite for these types of conversations. My YouTube channel has seen tremendous interest with more than 24 million total views from people all around the world which is proof that this type of ‘real’ content is much needed worldwide, especially in the Middle East. Living in the age of a pandemic, I think it’s something that has only become more relevant over the past 12 months as people are increasingly isolated and dependent on digital technology to remain connected and have meaningful, honest conversations.
As pointed out in the October 2020 mental health issue of Esquire Middle East, men are famously not the best at talking about their psychological welfare despite it being something that disproportionately affects either gender. The statistics are striking; men under 45 years of age are more likely to die from suicide than most other illnesses, and three quarters of all suicides are committed by men. This is impacting the youth in the Middle East too. The 2020 Arab Youth Survey revealed that the majority of young Arabs say that it is difficult to access quality mental healthcare in their countries, with Palestinians, Yemenis and Syrians topping the list.
My hope is that as a community, we can start to address these issues with frank conversations and open, candid dialogue. Most of all, through starting to ask each other the question “How are you really doing?” and actually listening.
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