Congratulations! You made it through a holiday at home! Thanksgiving was the first holiday of the academic year to flex both your stomach muscles, and your communication skills.
Family can be great, and one of the most supportive networks in your life, but it’s really hard to come home and feel like your in an interrogation room with your aunts and uncles as the good and bad cops.
Fear not! As winter break, and a bevvy of different winter holidays approaches, you can be prepared to nimbly dance around these verbal cross examinations. Here are a few tips from someone with a a large number of holidays spent in the hot seat.
1. Don’t Panic
It’s so easy to panic when a relative starts asking you about school. You’ve just returned from a stressful final exam period, had to pack everything to bring home, and you probably don’t even want to think about your major until after New Years, but the relatives are starved for information about what you’ve been up to, and if you’re panicked, they’ll be able to tell. So take a deep breath, and keep a level head. No one knows as much about your potential career path than you. You’ve got this.
2. Talk About Your Successes, Not Your Struggles
Questions from relatives are often open ended, which can be daunting. It’s hard to know what direction they may want to talk the conversation, and sometimes it seems like they know more than they’re letting on. The truth is, they don’t. Use the open endedness of a question to steer the conversation to what you’ve done well. Talk about the work you enjoyed doing, what extracurricular you’ve gotten involved with, the job opportunities you’ve had. This is what you’re relatives want to hear about. They want to know you’re doing well, so don’t sell yourself short, and give them as many positives as you can.
3. Don’t Worry About Not Having Definite Answers
These questions are much harder if you may not be sure what academic or career path you want to take. What’s important to remember is that you have so many different opportunities. Uncle So-and-So may not see it this way, but if you’re positive in front of your family, despite and doubts and existential dread you may actually have, they’ll believe it too.
4. Be Passionate
Not everyone can see the value of every major, and statistically, there’s a good chance that at least one person in your extended family has unsavory thoughts about what you want to do with your life. That’s ok though. As long as you are passionate, and can walk away from a conversation, debate, or argument, knowing that you’ve made the best decision for your happiness, that’s what truly matters. If you can convey that passion to the rest of your family, even better.
I wish you all good luck during this upcoming holiday season. Be confident, rest up, and may you make it through the second Spanish Inquisition.