Christmas break is one of the best times of the school year except for one nasty side effect: family dinners. Most times, you’re stuck at some distant relative’s house making small talk with your uncle while sipping spiked eggnog and the conversation morphs into an interrogation. The questions get more specific and invasive, and the second you excuse yourself to slip away to take a break–there’s another relative, ready to fire off the same questions you’re trying to dodge. If you don’t answer correctly, you’ll become the subject of family gossip until the next holiday party. Here’s how to BS your way through the most common questions.
The Job Question: What kind of job do you want?
What to do: Give them a one word answer and then follow it up with a success story of one of your friends that’s gotten a job in that field. Even if you have no idea what you want to do, you sound a lot smarter and ambitious when you give an answer that sounds well-thought out. Plus, most jobs we want to do aren’t very lucrative so by telling a success story of someone you know that has a “real” job, you’re eliminating any room for them to say that you should do something else. Bonus points if you can relate it back to current events, which can steer the conversation away from you and in many cases, engage surrounding relatives to chime in their drunk opinions, taking all the pressure off of you.
Example answer: Journalist. I have a friend that graduated from Oregon with a degree in history, and after sending some stuff out, he was offered a job at The New Yorker. I thought newspapers and magazines were dying, but thanks to technology I can get my stuff out there before even graduating. Speaking of which, I saw you have a blog, did you really run into Obama at Starbucks last week?
The Relationship Question: Seeing anyone?
What to do: Have a sense of humor and say something mildly inappropriate. It’ll catch them off-guard and they’ll feel uncomfortable with an unexpected answer. Unless they’re sauced, they probably won’t ask you about your significant other again for a very long time.
Example answer: She’s still in the process of finalizing her divorce…but soon she’ll be all mine!
The Slacker Question: Why Haven’t You Graduated Yet?
What to do: Make yourself sound like a productive and accomplished individual with the desire to make the world around you a better place. Don’t let them know that your delayed graduation was caused by too much partying, forgetting to declare a major, spending too much time skiing instead of going to classes, or because you’re retaking your classes you failed last semester. Put extra emphasis on your goals of finding yourself and your inherent need to explore all that the world has to offer before leaving the security and comfort of your college and embarking on your career. And when you mention how you helped out the community, don’t include that it was court-ordered.
Example answer: Learning isn’t confined to a classroom so I let my academics take a back seat while I explored all that life has to offer. I think it’s important to know who you are before embarking on a career, so I spent my time focusing on the small things in life. Not everybody graduates on time anyways, and don’t you think that those 100 hours of community service will look great on my resume? I helped myself by helping the community. It’s a win-win. (They’ll inevitably ask you what you want to do after you graduate, so refer back to the first question.)
These are the very basic ways of BSing your way through the holidays with the extended family. Just remember to have a sense of humor and steer the conversation away from you when it’s at all possible. And if all else fails, load up your drink and hang out with your little cousins. They won’t judge you.
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