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How to answer, "So what are you up to now?" when you're doing nothing.

Since I’ve graduated (about close to a year now) from university this question has been the bane of my existence. If things had worked out as they should have the answer would be easy.  For example:

Well meaning acquaintances/friends or family I haven’t seen in awhile:  Overeducated? Is that you? Oh my God! How are you?

Me: “Oh hey! I’m good. How are you?”

Well meaning acquaintances/ friends or family I haven’t seen in awhile: “Good, good! It has been ages! So what are you up to now?”

Me: “Oh well, you know, school.

Well meaning acquaintances/friends or family I haven’t seen in awhile: “Right. You’re at Alma Mater University. How is it? What year are you in now?

Me: “Nope. I’m not there anymore, finished last term.”

Well meaning acquaintances/friends or family I haven’t seen in awhile: “Oh so you’ve graduated. Congrats! So what are you doing now?”

Me: “Oh, you know, grad school. I’m doing a fast track Master’s program in British Gender History with a concentration on the 18th and 19th centuries. I applied and got into law school but decided to defer to pursue the Master’s instead.”

Of course all of this would have been said very nonchalantly, because you know, it’s not like it would be a big deal or anything. Instead the conversation usually plays out like this:

After greetings and reintroductions

Me: “Uh…you know stuff.”

Well meaning acquaintances/friends or family I haven’t seen in awhile:  “Oh, so you’re working?”

Me:  “Nope.”

Well meaning acquaintances/friends or family I haven’t seen in awhile: “Oh so you got into that grad program you applied to last year. How is it?”

Me: “Uh no. I did not get in but….”

Well meaning acquaintances/friends or family I haven’t seen in awhile:  “But what?”

Me:  “Um…”

Weird moment of us just looking at each other. Well meaning acquaintances/friends or family I haven’t seen in awhile, looking at my facial expressions to see if she/he can figure out what’s really going on through them.

Well meaning acquaintances/ friends or family I haven’t seen in awhile: “Um…well you know… something’s bound to come up. Look I have to go but um…good luck with… well… Good Luck!”

Me left standing there alone and deflated.

There is no good way to answer this question, if the answer is nothing, leaving your dignity intact. You can mention all of the volunteer work that your doing, but something about that only makes your situation seem sadder, so you end up saying as little as possible, being as vague as possible in order to keep the true nature of your situation a secret. But usually, your evasive answers ironically achieve the opposite. So now I’ve adopted the strategy of letting everyone who’s close to me know not to ask me that question, EVER, until I indicate otherwise. And as for those not so close to me, I say nothing and quickly change the subject.  It’s the best I can do for now.

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