Just last week, one of my former students tweeted:

“I wish everyone would stop asking me what I am doing after graduation!”

I felt, almost tangibly, her frustration. Then I remembered that in life, even after we decide what we are doing after high school, the questions about our future keep coming:

What are you going to do after you graduate college?

Where are you going to work?

Are you dating anyone?

When are you guys going to get married?

When are you guys going to have kids?

Often these questions come from well meaning, caring people in our lives who are just interested in our future.  But what they often don’t realize is the amount of panic they induce, when we don’t have an answer.  

“Great Aunt Bee” may be just trying to show some interest in our lives, but what we hear is “Why haven’t you picked a college?” or “Why haven’t you gotten a job yet?”

And as we are trying to come up with a good-sounding, “I am not wasting my life away” answer, all we keep thinking is “as if we aren’t already asking ourselves these very questions, each and every waking moment!”

Recently, I have found myself in such situations.  After resigning a job I had for over seven years, and being out of work for over nine months now, my “favorite” question that I get asked by friends and family is:

“Sooo, what are you doing these days?”

To which I have to respond with the brilliant, accomplished sounding answer of:

“I am writing a blog.  Oh, and learning how to bake bread.”

I don’t have a better answer than that. Yet what I am realizing, by lacking an impressive answer, is how much we tie our worth and sense of success, to our answers for these questions. There is the impression that if we don’t have great sounding answers like:

“I started this job where I make double the money I did before.”

or “I am getting a lot of scholarship offers, so I am waiting to choose where I go to college.”

or “I just started dating this guy; he is a Pediatric Surgeon, who saves babies.”

Then somehow we are failing. Yet none of the answers to these questions tell others if we are kind, if we are hard workers, if we are good people, and if we are more than just what one finds on our resume or Facebook profile. None of our answers to these loaded questions are supposed to define us, but for some reason, we believe that they do.

Also, I am learning that by believing I need to have a perfect sounding answer, I am trying to rush through the process of finding the right answer. During the past nine months, there are things I have begun to understand about myself and my past that I wouldn’t have learned had I rushed into a new job. And, the things I was looking for in a job then, aren’t necessarily the things I am looking for now.

Finally, I am finding that the people who truly know and love me, are going to hang in here with me, even if my answers to their questions aren’t fancy or inspiring.

What loaded questions are you avoiding?