Your family can be a most difficult bunch to impress. Mom and Dad are allowed to see your imperfections, but there’s something about stepping outside of your intermediate family safe zone that changes how vulnerable and exposed you can be. And of course, this only worsens during times of transition, for example, that event called graduation.
If going to be getting your diploma soon and throwing your cap in the air (like I am) this is an especially exciting time for you. It’s also a time when your extended family is more curious about you than ever. Perhaps you’ve been bombarded with e-mails, phone calls, and lunch offers – all to find out what your plans are after graduation. Unfortunately, Grandma and Grandpa don’t understand that it’s actually pretty common for seniors to graduate without a job or a “plan.” They clearly didn’t read this article.
And if you have an overachieving family member floating around somewhere in the family genealogy, you may be experiencing extra stress and anxiety. You know the cousin/ second cousin/twin I’m talking about? They are the ones that were accepted into a more prestigous college than you, spent summers on mission trips to Africa, and have photos with President Obama hanging in their rooms. Being compared to them is nothing new. Facing your overachieving relative at your next family get-together will be more difficult. But, don’t worry. The four tips below will help you handle any overzealous family member.
1. Embrace Your Freedom
So what if that overachieving relative landed a high paying job on Wall Street. Didn’t they ever hear the saying “money doesn’t buy happiness?” Embrace your freedom, graduating senior! Up until now you’ve had your entire life planned for you. The world is now your oyster. Tell them that you’re just going to go with the flow and are seriously thinking through all of your options (even if you currently don’t have any, that’s OK). Say you’re in no rush to be sitting behind a desk when you’re only 21-years-old. They’ll be confessing how they wish they were in your shoes in no time.
2. Confidence is Key
Whatever your answer is to the five-worded question: “What are you doing after graduation?” — it must be answered in a confident manner. Don’t let your overachieving family member know you are totally clueless and scared about the future. As long as you sound like you have a plan, they, too, will think you have one.
3. Don’t Let Yourself Feel Down
Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in the family drama. And by that I mean don’t let the fact that your overachieving relative seems to have his/her sh*t together make you feel like you don’t. You know that you’re not the only one without concrete future plans. Who really graduates from college these days and actually has a job lined up? Only those overachieving family members do.
4. Change The Topic
I guarantee you that your overachieving family member doesn’t want to spend any more time discussing the future than you do. After discussing it for 5- 10 minutes, change the topic and talk about how you used to build sand castles and throw snot rags at your crazy uncle together. That will be a more enjoyable conversation for both of you.
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