Yesterday, I went to try a new coffee place started by a couple young graduates of my school. Obviously in a rush (albeit in good spirits), I ordered my drink, got a little annoyed they didn’t have skim milk, and replied to a text message. “So, you a student here? What’re ya studying? What year are you?” I replied with succinct, a succinct “yes,” followed by a declaration of my major, and finally, with a breath of air, I let out, “I’m a senior.” And then it came predictably, “What are you going to do next year?”
While my second semester senior status (“Don’t know yet,” was my answer, by the way. If interested, please do inquire within) makes such questions particularly frustrating, the last four years have at times felt like a continued recitation of answers to these questions. From the most painful experience of trying out sorority rush, to entering group projects, to meeting friends’ parents, to even…dates, the same rotating selection of mostly meaningless questions has populated so many conversations I’ve had to hold. Even with the coffee guy.
On a job interview, or when talking to the parents who’ve kindly forked over my tuition dollars, I’ll answer obligingly. But over beers with peers, or with the coffee guy, these questions are staler than the pizza that’s been sitting in your fridge since January. In the spirit of Spring cleaning, let’s make some attempts to come up with better inquisitions. (But first, go throw away that pizza.)
1. What’s your major? The rare chance of this being interesting is so small that I really encourage you not to ask. In all likelihood, what you are going to get is the following: a) a passive aggressive tirade about how awful it is to write a thesis for said major which will cause you to experience extreme boredom, b) enthusiasm for something in which you have no interest but probably has considerable “real world” practicality, which will cause insecurity and also potential boredom, c) this person is going to have a major that you think is a dumb person major, and you are going to judge this personal unfairly, when they are probably very nice!
2. What are you doing next year/this summer? Stop it, you’re making me anxious. Also, only people who have a job making $100K a year on Wall Street and already got a signing bonus in November ask this question. Leave the rest of us alone!
3. What classes are you taking this semester? See “what’s your major,” except with added bonuses of a) complaining about the Natural Sciences requirement or b) a monologue on how inspiring this Eastern Philosophy class is. Gag.
4. Are you in a fraternity/sorority? As tempting as it is to stereotype every person you meet, it’s far more impressive if you at least feign indifference. If you must know, it shouldn’t be that hard to find out, so find out from someone else.
5. Are you going out tonight? Yes! It’s college. What else would I be doing?!