My ears are ringing with questions. Just call it the institutional inquisition.
Graduation is six weeks away. I don’t usually broadcast the inner workings of my every move to the whole wide world, but questions are flying at me from all angles about where I’m going and what I’m doing come graduation, and so on.
So what do I do? Well, whenever acquaintances approach looking inquisitive, I simply block out whatever they say, wait until they cock their head awaiting my response, put my hand in their face and say, “Talk to the hand!”
Just kidding. I don’t do that.
Normally, I patiently listen and answer kindly and briefly. As much as I wish I could place pacifiers in those most irritating inquistors’ mouths and enjoy myself in unquestioning silence, those people aren’t going anywhere. So let’s talk about how to deal with them nicely and efficiently.
In the soon-to-be grad hustle, I find the most dominating questions are “What” and “Where.” These questions of the professional or geographical variety are the basic ones everyone from your Aunt Mildred to your smelly professor to your close friends might ask. “What are you doing next year?” and “Where are you going to live?” are more or less the basis on which such questions are built. As annoyingly formulaic as these questions are, it means you can engineer formulaic no-brainer answers that will get the job done:
Keep your answers brief: Whether you have an awesome job that you could talk about for hours, or you think you might want to trek through the Andes and then roadtrip through South America but you don’t know how you’ll be able to rent a car, or you got into a grad program where you’re going to study the connection between Native American rituals and the Great American novel, no one wants to listen to you go on and on for hours. A simple, “I’m still looking, the industries I’m interested in have a different hiring schedule” or “I’m thinking about taking some time off and spending a few months abroad,” or “I’m going to work at Company X in Urban Area Y,” or “I’m getting a masters at University Z” should do it.
Don’t get overly irritated: Even if your inquisitor has a rad job at Google (the person confidently asking you what you’re doing probably has a cool job, right?) that you couldn’t even get an interview for, don’t waste your time blowing steam. It’ll only make you more upset and anxious.
For god’s sake, don’t make up a fake, ridiculous story: Don’t tell me you’re becoming a drag queen in Milwaukee, or an arms dealer to African revolutionaries, unless you actually are. For a million and a half reasons, this is the most annoying, overdone, awkward thing ever. It’s not funny. And if you lie, it’s really easy for people to find out in the age of Google.
Ask back: I know, you don’t care about the “what about you?” but it’s sort of rude not to ask. Suck it up, and use it as a nice segue out of the conversation.