“Why does everyone always ask me that?”
A recent graduate challenged me with this question after my friend asked her what she would be doing with her education. I remember feeling the same frustration at her age. In fact, I wrote about it in my senior paper. As we turn eighteen we become legal adults. If the government recognizes this, why can’t our family and friends treat us like adults and stop making “entering the great big world” such a big deal!
The funny thing is, answering personal questions about our life is part of being an adult. “Get used to it, honey, when you are done with school we will all be asking you how your job is. And once you start a family, we will want to know all about the kids. We are not grading you, we simply care about your life.”
Perhaps the questions are most annoying to a graduate because they are trying to break free from “I’ve got to pass” mode and suddenly everyone around them is taking interest in the future that they have so many questions about themselves.
Transitions are a Confidence Conflict.
It’s hard enough to close one chapter in your life and step out into the great unknown. I suppose we shouldn’t add to the graduate’s pressure by wanting to know the details of the next chapter when they haven’t even started reading it; but this is life. After school we don’t have teachers prompting us to think through the problem we face-and they are no longer hypothetical in nature. Our problems are real-life challenges and the only help we have is each other. The questions we ask may not be as precise as a teacher’s, in fact, most of them may seem rather superficial, but in reality we want to know how you doing.
- How’s the job going? Are you able to make ends meet?
- How’s married life? Are you two getting along?
- Congratulations on the baby… are you getting any sleep? Are you figuring out how to care for yourself and your dependents?
Questions aren’t offensive if you feel confident.
I was recently interviewed for a leadership association. As I was being asked a number of personal questions I couldn’t help but think of all the graduates in my life. Interviews are a test, but the questions about our hopes and dreams and the things we fear are worth the risk of vulnerability because there is a potential offer of making them come true. Why should a graduate offer her heart to a stranger who wants to know what career path she will choose if she is able pass all her classes? Besides, most interviews are more about the chapters in life that are already written.
- What has been your greatest accomplishment?
- What kind of challenges have you had to overcome?
It’s easy to give a positive response to questions about what has already happened–even the tragedies–if they are already over. When our current reality is less exciting, or less certain, most of us would rather not spill our heart.
The good news is that personal questions will no longer feel like a test once we are able to metamorphose out of the “I’ve got to pass” mode. Of course, not everyone gets her wings with her graduation certificate. You know you have broken free from your cocoon–and truly become an adult–when a complete stranger… or your mother… asks you something personal and you don’t feel threatened.
Accountability is one of the greatest tools for making it in this world.
- Scared to death to go out on your own?
- Caring for baby, house and self getting the best of you?
- Struggling with finances?
When someone takes an interest in your life, don’t receive that as a judgment. Answer the personal questions honestly, and take advantage of the opportunity to talk things out. Personal conversations are an opportunity to receive the insight, affirmation or advice you may be looking for. After graduation, no one is paid to hold you accountable except your boss. If you want success in other areas of your life, you are wise to allow others to ask you the questions and speak into your life. But then again, that’s your choice. You have that freedom now.
If you have a graduate in your life who is frustrated with your concern for them, don’t take it to heart. Give them time. Soon they will soar with confidence as they transition from under your wings to finding their own. You and I survived the ultimate Confidence Conflict; so will our loved ones.
Catrina Welch is an inspirational author and speaker whose passion is empowering women and girls to BE and LET BE. Her expertise as a cosmetologist, image consultant and Biblical life-coach, as well as her personal experiences with abandonment and grief make her message relatable to anyone dealing with rejection, betrayal or loss.
Her latest book, CONFIDENT BEAUTY: Reflecting the One Who Made You, with the Images in your Mirror and in your Soul, is now available as an audiobook. Autographed copies of all her books are available on her website at www.CatrinaWelch.com