5 Tips for Dealing with Your Family’s Annoying Questions about Your Future
If you had a dollar for every time a relative asked you what you planned to do with your life, you wouldn’t have to stress so much about getting a job. And you’d really cash in during the holidays. It’s like every great uncle, second cousin and weird family friend thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to get all Wendy Williams and grill you on your life plan.
If your patience is wearing thin and you’re still looking at seven more days of quality time with the family, consider these five tips for dealing with annoying life questions.
Flip the script
This one works like a charm on more self-involved family members. Simply find a way to get them talking about themselves. Use redirecting phrases like “That’s such a good question, but let me ask you this. What was your first job like?” Then sit back, relax and occasionally nod and smile. When you sense that they’re starting to run out of wind, wrap things up by saying something like “Wow, you’ve really given me a lot to think about. Thank you!” Then go hide in the kitchen.
Bore them with details
Do you know a lot about a specific subject? Maybe you just crammed for a final and have hundreds of obscure details that are still fresh and readily accessible. Use them. For example, announce that you’re considering a career in biology and, before anyone has time to ask you to be more specific, say something like “Actually, have you heard of excitation-contraction coupling? It’s the process of neural stimulation that creates a muscle contraction. Let me break it down for you…” Offer to sketch a diagram. People will stop asking questions.
Tell them what they want to hear
There are few career paths that are universally accepted and totally non-controversial. Accounting, for example, is one of them. Tell everyone you’re going to be an accountant, and no one will lecture you on how you’re never going to find a job or be able to support yourself. It’s also not an answer that encourages a lot of follow-up questions. People hear “accountant” and get the gist of what that entails (or at least think they do.) This is obviously a short-term solution, particularly if you have zero intentions of pursuing a career in accounting. But once you’ve figured out what you’re actually going to do, you can just tell everyone you changed your mind…or pretend to be an accountant at family functions for the rest of your life.
Vaguely suggest that “something’s in the works”
You know how your favorite actor gets adorably tight-lipped whenever a talk show host playfully begs them for season finale spoilers? You can learn a lot from this kind of vapid banter. Maintain a sense of mystery and tell people that “there’s some stuff in the works” or “you’ve got a few irons in the fire,” but that you’re not at liberty to discuss details. Let them know you’ll keep them updated as things advance, then go ahead and share whatever great things end up happening. They don’t need to know that it was a surprise to you too!
Bring up politics
This one’s your Hail Mary. If all else fails, pour everyone another round and bring up politics. The 2016 election has gifted you with more than enough material to get everyone riled up and too tired to bug you. Sure, it will be unpleasant, not everyone will get out unscathed, and you may be disinvited from next year’s celebration. But, really, everyone should just accept this period of uncertainty and trust that you’ll figure it out in your own time. Because you will, and you tried to tell them that. So the fact that everyone’s leaving before dessert? Not your fault. They asked for it. Go eat some pie.
Jenessa Connor is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and young adult author. If you don’t find her in front of her computer, check the local movie theaters and restaurants, Prospect Park or the gym at CrossFit 718.