Wednesday, February 22, 2017 // The Statement
BY SYLVANNA GROSS, DAILY SPORTS EDITOR
ILLUSTRATION BY ERIN TOLAR
So, what are your plans for next year?”
Eight words that all seniors respond to
with immediate sweaty palms and slight
nausea. It’s an involuntary response that
most of us experience because being asked
to confront the biggest source of stress we have at this
moment is awful.
Every. Single. Senior. Has heard this question — at
minimum — 10,000,000,000,000 times this year alone.
And, in case you slept through the last moments of 2016
and Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve performance, it’s
just two months into the new year.
The question itself is relatively harmless at face
value. It’s a natural follow-up to the normal “How are
you?” “I’m good, how are you?” type of conversation
you have twice every hour on average. More often
than not, though, the question is asked by someone
carelessly inquiring about your future on the off-
chance that they’ll be interested. Or, their parents just
taught them good manners and reminded them not to
talk just about themselves during small talk.
Coming from peers, the question is inquisitive.
Coming from relatives, the question can be intrusive
and coming from strangers the question can be
invasive. But for whatever reason the question is asked,
there’s still the obvious fact that you must now answer
And that’s why a lot of
us want to spontaneously
combust, because we just
don’t know. And in a society
where saving face is key
and having your stuff
together is attractive,
are clueless AF is
No matter how
you answer the
you’re one of the chosen few and have already locked
down a job or a graduate position or whatever, you feel
guilty by bragging or feel disheartened when they don’t
care or feel protective if nosy relatives give you their
take on what you’re choosing to do.
Because clearly Aunt Helen knows more about
working in a lab than you, even though you’re the one
graduating with a degree in biomedical engineering.
If you respond with a joke, others might feel that you
aren’t taking things seriously and you might become
a bum. If you respond with a simple “I don’t know,”
the pesky counterpart will probably follow up with a
“Well, do you have any ideas?” type of question.
So how, as seniors, do we grapple with publicizing
one of the scariest transitions in our lives while also not
knowing what to publicize?
I’ve found that politely disassociating with the
conversation works. That, and learning to just have
quick hits such as “I’ve applied to some jobs” or “Some
graduate schools are looking at my application now.”
Just enough information to quell the nosiest inquirer,
but not enough to display how much you have no clue
what’s going on.
In truth, there’s a part of me that loves the question.
I mean, it’s inviting me to talk about myself, which is
amazing. When I first started getting the question in
September, I would jump at the chance to talk freely
about all the possibilities I had in front of me. Quickly,
when I saw my friends solidifying their post-graduation
plans, my frankness turned to embarrassment because
there was nothing definitive. And then it turned to
humor. Over holiday break, my friend asked me what I
will be doing my next year and I just laughed.
It’s not that I find not knowing what I’m going to
be doing funny, it’s just that I find my reaction to
the question now funny. Going into senior year, and
hearing from former then-senior friends, I knew
that people didn’t like being asked that question,
which I had always found unfathomable. How do
you not like talking about yourself? But I think I
get the dislike now. The question just invites me
to continuously face an unknown future, which
scares me quite shitless.
So, I’m not suggesting that people don’t ask,
because I understand the knee-jerk curiosity for
someone else’s life. But, maybe, wait for them to
post a Facebook status about their job offer or
graduate school offer or whatever else they might
be doing before subjecting them to the challenge of
explaining their (probably) stressful decisions.
How to: Respond to The Question
1. So, you’ve been asked about
2. First rule: No matter how much you want to claw
their eyes out, consider that the last resort.
3. Remember you probably really like whoever
4. Seriously, remember that.
5. And if you don’t — well, your mom would
want you to stay calm.
6. Now, open your mouth.
7. Say words.
8. You can lie; for all they know, it’s the truth.
10. OK, stop saying words. You’ve probably said
enough to bore them to the next topic of conversation.
11. Take a deep breath.
12. Because at the end
of the day, you’ll figure
9. Say more words.