You arrive at your aunt’s house for the holiday party, yet again without a partner, a second degree, or an amazing career.
Although you’re happy and content with where you are in life, somehow family members still find a way every holiday season to make you feel like despite your successes, you should be further along in life.
Never mind the fact that you’ve reached a few of your own personal and professional goals, none of that is enough.
The expectations of your family are often times just too high and unrealistic.
Growing up in a Nigerian household, around many self-proclaimed aunties and uncles, maneuvering and curving questions during the holidays has always been an uphill battle.
But I eventually learned the secret to peace around the holiday table.
Fair warning though, the tips I will share with you are not for everyone.
These tips are for the bold and fearless. The ones who are tired of leaving family holiday parties feeling less than and unaccomplished because of the pressures placed upon them.
It will take a little heart, a dash of courage, a cup of confidence. You must be able to have an element of sarcasm and a touch of shade to really succeed at this.
SO HERE IT IS
The trick is to tell people what they want to hear.
Yes, I said it.
And when you can’t tell them what they want to hear, give them a funny response. Then, laugh and walk away.
Just this past weekend, I went with my mom to my aunt’s birthday dinner.
Things were fine until it was time to head out. As I was about to leave, I ran into my three aunts. And, that’s when the interrogation began.
“So where’s your boyfriend?” My response: “When you find him let me know.”
“You’re not seeing anyone?” My response: “No, add it to your prayer list for me.”
“By next year you should be in a relationship.” My response: Check in by June 2017. If there’s still no one that means your prayers are not working.”
“Well, you still have time. But, in a few years you should be married.” My response: “Amen. Hallelujah.”
I laughed. They laughed. I told them goodbye.
The reason why these responses worked so well was because I smiled every time I responded. I laughed whenever I finished my response and I didn’t take their questions so personally.
I knew they were just checking in.
There would be no follow-up call to confirm anything I said, and my responses would hold over until the next check in, about 3-6 months from now.
That’s exactly how you should handle your grilling this holiday season too.
The questions will come. But I’m convinced that they only ask these questions because they have nothing else to discuss with us.
There’s a reason why distant relatives are usually the only ones probing you about your life. The ones who truly keep up with you have no reason to investigate over the holidays. They are already well informed.
Those who don’t bother to keep up with us, don’t really know what’s going on in our lives. So for them, the basic questions help them feel like they are at least still in touch, in some way or form.
Appease them. Laugh things off and go about your day.
Here are a few other responses you can use this holiday season to dodge commonly asked questions.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where’s your boyfriend/girlfriend?
“When you meet him/her let me know.” Then, smile and walk away.
When are you all getting married?
“Whenever you donate to the wedding.” Raise your hand out, smile and then walk away.
So what are you doing now?
Give a brief description on your career endeavors and then ask them how’s work going for them. Either they’ll talk about themselves long enough to forget that the conversation was initially about you or the conversation would be cut short and you can walk away.
So when are you getting your master’s?
“Soon, still working out some things to make me a great candidate” or “Very soon. I’ll keep you updated.” Even if you have no plans to go to graduate school this will cut the conversation short. They’ll tell you their input and then you can go on with your life. Getting into a debate about why you’re not going back to school is only a waste of time and effort.
When are you graduating?
If you know when, let them know. If you’re not sure, just say “My counselor hasn’t got back to me yet. But as soon as I find out, you’ll be the first to know.”
But whatever you do choose to say this holiday season, remember these 3 things: smile, laugh, and walk away.
Add your own spice to these responses and use these examples to come up with your own that work for you. But whatever you do choose to say this holiday season, remember these 3 things: smile, laugh, and walk away.
Whenever you can’t walk away, just be silent and look at them. Silence always makes people feel awkward.
If you show nervousness or a lack of confidence, the conversation will never end.
Best of luck to you as you brace the storm of interrogations this holiday season. And if you have any cunning responses to your own commonly asked questions, I would love for you to share them below.