Every morning, I get an e-mail in my inbox with a “word of the day.”
This morning’s word was “copacetic.” I had a vague understanding of what it meant, but I laughed when I read the actual definition.
It’s such a fancy way to express the most average, unauthentic, basic state of being:
Other definitions: “completely satisfactory.”
It’s almost like the word is making fun of its own definition. It sounds so intriguing, like the person using that word is giving an amazingly detailed response to the question, “How are you?”
It’s like the word is sarcastically saying, “I’m pretending that absolutely everything in my life is OK when we all really know that not one single person on this planet is completely satisfactory.”
If you’ve studied the Enneagram, I’m a 3, with a very strong 4 wing. The 4 is my creative side. And it’s also where I get my melancholy. Fours love emotion. I can sit in my sadness. I feel totally comfortable crying with a friend. I think anger feels good. And I can break out into a happy dance with little provocation. I love emotion.
In fact, people who teach the Enneagram say that one of the beautiful things about a 4 is that she can help other people step into their emotion.
When someone asks me how I’m doing, I’m always going to give an answer other than “fine.” I can be completely content, full of joy, working through sadness, incredibly grateful or struggling with something irritating, but fine? I doubt that I’ve ever had a copacetic day in my life.
It’s kind of fun, in a weird way, to see the reaction of other people when they ask you how you’re doing, and you give them a real, genuine answer that doesn’t involve the standard, “OK.”
The word “copacetic” reminded me of a book I read last month: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. The title always makes me laugh because it is dripping with such extreme sarcasm. Eleanor Oliphant lived in complete isolation. She was haunted by horrible memories of her traumatically abusive childhood. Her life felt meaningless, hopeless and absolutely alone.
And yet, she would always reassure herself: “I’m fine. I’m completely fine.”
How often do we do the same thing?
This morning, I ran into a friend I met over the summer. The last time we were together, we talked about a difficult situation we had both experienced. She asked me how I was doing with it.
“It’s hard,” I said.
She gave me THE. BEST. response.
“I see you.”
Wow. That was all I really needed to hear. It was basically like, “There’s nothing I can say that will make it better, but I want you to know, I acknowledge what you are going through. I’ve been there, and I see you.”
I was scrolling through social media this afternoon, and, as always, my feed was full of photos of lots of different activities, ranging from church services to parties to other events. In every single picture, all of the people were smiling. They looked so… copacetic.
I was deep in my 4-wing emotions, and just looking at those photos made me feel so out of place.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m super thankful for the amazingly blessed life I get to live. But sometimes I walk into a room. and I can sense the heaviness the people around me are carrying. I’m carrying. I just want people to know it’s OK to be real. I want to feel safe, and I want other people to feel safe, knowing they don’t have to pretend to be completely satisfactory or OK. I feel like it’s a gift when someone invites me into their not-fine world with a genuine conversation.
But most of the time, we get to see the copacetic version of reality during our scroll through social media. Goodness. Can we get a photo of someone crying for a change? I love it when someone captures a look of extreme joy! Or what about sharing a photo when you are mad?
But, yeah. Those photos aren’t as easy to find. I mean, smile for the camera, right?
Or as Lecrae says:
I have a list of some of my favorite words that are rarely used, but sound really fancy. I’m adding “copacetic” to the list. But I’m not sure how often I’ll really ever use it. Because, let’s face it.
I’m not completely fine. And that’s … copacetic.
How about you? How are you today?