It’s that time of year. Joy and cheer and interrogative questions about your dating life and career choices from people you only kind of know and care about. If you haven’t learned by now, you have to walk in with an arsenal of pre-prepared, family-politically-correct responses that are peppered with just the right amount of confidence, positivity and interest.
But if we’re being honest, we all have the same inner narrative going on in our minds while “oh, it’s going well! Still searching but applied to a few,” is coming out of our mouths. So this, my friends, is how holiday dinner conversations would pan out if we were actually giving honest responses, the kinds of answers we keep to ourselves because dear Aunt Macy isn’t deaf enough to let them slide just yet.
Are you seeing anyone?
No, but thanks for reminding me that I’m spending another holiday alone. Also, I’m pretty sure you’re aware that I am most definitely not seeing anyone because if I were you’d have heard about it through the grapevine that always begins with my mother because we’re all really shocked and excited if I’m dating someone are we not?
Do you have a job yet? Are you working? Is that your real job?
Yes I think but I don’t know how to answer this until you explain what would constitute NOT a “real job?”
What do you plan to do with that degree in English/Art/Film/Music? Teach?
If I were brilliant, I’d whip out this Strayed quote: “Continue my bookish examination of the contradictions and complexities of human motivation and desire; or maybe just: Carry it with me, as I do everything that matters.” But I’m mad and not eloquent like that so what I plan to do is just live my damn life and not do anything that doesn’t make me happy and teach if I have to or want to one day or not teach because I don’t. I dunno. Let’s talk about the project I just did or the interesting book I just read for class. Not what monetary benefits you think my education should elicit because you and I probably have different ideas of what it means to want to learn for the sake of it and pursue a passion because we feel called to it.
Are you and so-and-so getting serious?
Since I’m pretty sure you’re just asking when I’m gonna get married and pop out a kid I’m going to have to go with no, but thanks for bringing this up, as it’s generally an awkward thing to talk about if the answer is no, but it’s deathly humiliating when said so-and-so is sitting across the table from us.
Oh, you broke up? What happened?
Obviously nothing good that I would want to talk about during the holidays?
Have you lost weight?
Um, possibly, but please stop evaluating my appearance for every pound I lose and gain because it makes me really hyper self-aware and self-conscious about eating the third piece of cake I really want/will eventually have tonight. Plus, there are so many reasons people lose and gain weight that have nothing to do with actually wanting to lose or gain weight so let’s just not go there.
Oh, you’re dating someone? What do they look like? What do they do? What do their parents do?
Isn’t it funny how those are always the three first questions everyone asks? They look like a god, especially naked, they do what they want, and I don’t even know their parent’s names let alone what they do. You asked.
Do you have marriage plans yet?
Not with a person but they are all outlined on Pinterest anyway. *Cheeky grin*
How is college going? How were your finals?
How do you think? I cry a lot and drink gallons of coffee and write enough papers to make my eyes and fingertips bleed, and I don’t want to talk about finals, my grades are coming any day now, so thank you for reminding me about that one class I’m completely convinced I failed but have comforted myself by deciding I’ll be okay if I just get a C in.
Tell me about your new job. What do you do there exactly?
Bemoan my existence and apply for other jobs.
How far away from your apartment is church?
*Awkward pause* Oh, like, two minutes… I think. I’m going to just answer this question literally because I know you’re inadvertently trying to get me to admit I do not subscribe to the religious beliefs you do and therefore am the actual incarnation of Satan himself.
How is [your ex] doing? They were so nice. Have you heard from them?
Bad. Nope and no.
You’re just so grown up. Do you remember that time when you were twelve and you (did something horrendously embarrassing)? *laughs*
Yes, okay. I remember. I once called tentacles on the calamari testicles and not only have you never let me live it down I replay that soul-crushing humiliation in my mind time and time again as my heart sinks and I gaze up at the ceiling and wonder why, just like I am now wondering why in God’s name you are bringing it up again.
Why don’t you ever call me?!
Because you’ll ask me questions like these.
Reprinted with permission from Thought Catalog. Want more?