Family: we love them. We’ll always be able to count on mum’s big bear hugs to fall into after a messy break up. Nor will we ever take for granted dad’s pick-me-up humour to brighten up the day – it’s terrible, but we secretly love it! Our brothers’ can turn out to be the best friends we’ll ever have, whilst some can always rely on their sister to pick them up when the rest of the world flakes on them!
What we don’t love? Family gatherings. The ones we attend to keep up appearances, but never EVER want to actually go to. In fact, you’ll spend the better half of a month dreading its comeuppance while desperately trying to invent acceptable excuses to avoid it.
You dread them because you’ll be forced to interact with distant family members that you keep distant for a reason. The types that will pry into your personal life as a form of entertainment and then scrutinise your every move. Each one of these members come equipped with the exact same handbook of terrible questions; the same questions you’ll be asked every single time you have the misfortune of encountering them:
1. “How’s The Job Hunt Going?”
Being unemployed is depressing enough without having Aunt Debbie’s judgemental eyes lasering straight through you.
Is there even a positive response you can actually dignify this question with? If the job hunt was going that well, we’d be in a job right now. But we’re not… so thanks for bringing that up!
Of course, this is perfect material to humour your uncle with. You know, the one who inherited his late father’s entire business and now proclaims he’s the ultimate ‘self-made’ entrepreneur.
“That’s the problem with your generation!“, he snorts over his 4th pint.“You’re just too lazy now. You all expect everything to be handed to you on a plate!”.
In reality, you’ve just spent the better half of 8 hours carefully crafting cover letters that very morning. But of course, Uncle Phil, whatever you say!
2. “So Then… What’s The Career Plan?”
“Ooh. Do you know what? I’m so glad you asked that actually. Right now I’m just finishing off at uni, then I’ll be moving on to my already lined up £30,000 job. I know it’s not that much, but within the year I’ll be promoted to company manager – and that’s where the big money will come rolling in!”
Of course you don’t have a bloody clue! You struggle to think about what you’ll be having for breakfast the following morning, never mind a 5 year career plan. Even if you did have an idea about what path you wanted to go down, it’s far too underwhelming for anyone’s taste. Soon enough, you’ll be subjected to an unwelcome update as to how well darling Oliver is doing.
Who’s Oliver? He’s the star attraction of the evening – although, he isn’t actually there. In fact, you haven’t see him since his 12th birthday party. Oliver is your cousin who somehow managed to become a top barrister at the age of 21. So you see, he’s a very important person who’s got somewhere far more important to be. You’re not quite sure whether he has ever had a social life at all, but you’ve learned to never question perfect Oliver.
Once they’ve finished boasting, they turn to you and sigh. A long, awkward silence. It never fails to make you feel as inadequate and incompetent as humanly possible.
3. “When Are You Going To Get Yourself A Boyfriend/Girlfriend?”
If your self-worth isn’t being evaluated by your career, it’s definitely being so on your relationship status. Being without a partner automatically equates you to a lonely, anti-social loser.
All you’ve witnessed the whole evening is Aunt Debbie snapping at her husband and then complain about how he never lifts a finger around the house or how he’s always spending too much money down the pub. But, of course, settling down with a heterosexual partner is the only path to true happiness.
This question is irritating on a whole new level for those who aren’t even attracted to the already assumed opposing gender. Some family members still live in the 1950’s – and you’ve been the scrutinised topic of discussion enough already for one night. What they don’t know will keep their narrow-minded opinions shut.
And if you are in a relationship…
4. “When’s The Wedding?”
“Well… never if it means we’d have to pay £30,000 just to endure another painful family gathering with equally painful questions such as these!”
Not everyone has the money for these extravagant, overpriced events. Not everyone is in the right, comfortable stage of their relationship to even start talking about committing their lives together. Not everyone cares for marriage full stop.
Some family members use this question as a secret way of establishing the strength and seriousness of relationships – like it’s any of their business to begin with. But even after the whole family unit has seen 4 messy divorces, you’ll still be subjected to a lecture in the importance of ‘proving’ your relationships with formal paper signings and overpriced photographs.
5. “Can We Expect To See Little Ones Any Time Soon?”
If you’ve managed to bypass the relationship and marriage interrogations, you’re definitely in for this enquiry. Just like with a big, fancy wedding, displaying children is the next expected move for ‘successful relationships’ in accordance with the intrusive family manual.
Despite the fact that children were all your aunts, uncles and parents ever complained about, you’re still victimised to having baby photos thrown in your face in an attempt to convince you that this is the single road to lifetime happiness.
It’s also, may I add, incredibly problematic:
What if you’ve actually been trying to conceive, but so far have been unlucky?
What if you’ve silently suffered a miscarriage?
Or, simply, you just don’t wish to have children. Although you know far better than to speak this preposterous, incomprehensible desire out aloud, for Aunt Debbie knows far better in this field – with a tilt of her head and in a condescending tone, she’ll assure you that ‘you’ll change your mind when you’re older’.
Okay. Sure. Whatever you say. Now can I go home yet?