Ahhh, social gatherings. For some of you, it may be a delightful occurrence to be surrounded by so many people you haven’t seen in a while, not to mention the new people you haven’t met yet. For confused twentysomethings like myself, it is like dropping us into the pits of Hell. The first questions out of everyone’s mouths are either “what have you been up to?” from the ones you haven’t seen in a while, or the ever-dreaded “so, what do you do?” from the ones you have just met. So what do you do when you feel like the pressure is on and everything you say will sound pathetic compared to their lives? I’ve come up with a few solutions that will put a shock to their systems and may deter them from ever asking you that damn question again!
Tell them your job (or lack thereof) does not define you.
Always try to be polite when expressing this belief. Some of you may be writers, like myself, or artists, musicians, etc. People (at least in my experience) want to tear your dreams down and tell you that such professions are unattainable. Tell us something we don’t know! I may be a writer, but it’s not how I would particularly define myself. Even though it’s such a huge part of my life, there is so much more to me than writing. As much as I hate asking someone what they do, if someone asks me I tend to ask them as well. When I hear things like financial consultant and bank teller, I ask them if they define themselves by those titles. The answers I usually get are blank. Fortunately, you’ll never have to see some of these people again, so give them something they’ll never forget, smile and excuse yourself and go find someone less judgmental.
Smile and say “God bless.”
I used to have this friend who every time I’d see her around the neighborhood, would ask me what I was currently doing. When I last saw her, I was finishing up one of my online courses. I told her just that and there came the eye-roll. “Why don’t you ever do what normal people do and go to a real college?” she asked. She said it with a smile on her face, as if to say she knows me so well and I’m just absolutely ridiculous that she has to laugh. I simply told her that my online classes were all I could afford and I work with what I have. She then proceeded to ask me why we never hang out. I think that one was quite obvious. If this happens to you, just suck it up, smile and say “God bless.” It’s your life and you are the only one who knows what’s best for you.
Ask them, “are you happy?”
Most of the time, if not all, people are envious of your creativity and drive so they want to tear you down so they can feel superior. Whenever someone continues to give you a lecture about how they started their career, instead of tuning them out, stop them in their tracks and ask them if they are happy. Some may lie, while for others, it may open their eyes to how miserable they really are. As for us, we may not exactly be as happy as we wish we were, but we have the power to change that and revel in our uncertainties rather than fear them. I’m still learning how to master that notion everyday.
Most importantly: Be polite!
I know it may be hard trying not to lay on the salt, but the less people have to say about you, the better. It’s one thing to have people judge you on your life choices, and another when it’s about your character. No matter how rude people may be, kill them with kindness. Leave them dumbfounded. 😉
Remember, at the end of the day, no one can get in the way of your shine if you don’t allow them. Stick up for yourself. It’s easy to let someone walk all over you and make you feel like a loser, but you have the power to tune them out. People are going to talk, so let them. Sometimes we feel like we have to prove everybody wrong, and that may be true in some cases but when we become so focused on proving ourselves, we lose who we really are and our initial drive for what we want to achieve. Keep your head up, stay strong and continue on the path that was paved for you – just be mindful of the bumps along the way.
“All my fake friends and all of their noise complain about work
They’re studying business, I study the floor, and you haven’t stopped smoking all night
Maybe the Internet raised us, or maybe people are jerks.