1. What are you going to do with your life?
The thing about this question is that no one actually knows what it means. Everyone has a different definition of “fun,” of “success,” of “productive.” And it’s pretty safe to say that the people (read: bitchy family members) who are condescendingly asking you this over dinner are not looking for an answer that includes you generally enjoying yourself and not really caring what they think. They are expecting something concrete, such as working for a non-profit that puts fashionable shoes on impoverished children. They want answers, and there is no good one to give. Even if you had a good idea of what you want (“Marrying someone who makes enough for me to be comfortably supported as a stay-at-home parent yet is not totally absorbed by their work?”) it’s not as though you can actually plan for that. You can only say that you are living, and hopefully living well. It won’t be good enough, but who cares?
2. When are you going to get married already?
No one can decide this, and the idea that people ask as though they’re somehow lighting the match under your ass which was otherwise parked in the handicapped lane of “I don’t care about my romantic future” is absurd. Hectoring people who aren’t ready to get married yet about the prospect of getting married only convinces them of one thing: That humanity is awful and they should secede from their family.
3. Why don’t we hang out anymore?
Umm, because we’re not really friends and I think we have gotten to a point in our respective development where our outings have become forced and strained? Because you have developed a debilitating coke habit and can no longer go out without sucking everyone around you into your whirlpool of insanity and reckless spending? Because you slept with my ex? Because we have been drifting apart for a really long time and you putting me on the spot like this as though it was a conscious decision that I made at some point to spite you is just going to be weird for all parties involved?
4. Why did you move?
Is there ever a way to articulate all of the various pressing reasons that you had to get out of your old town (which you felt was completely stifling and/or crushing your soul from within on a daily basis) to someone who is still very much living there? Like, there is just no way to go about this without offhandedly telling them that they are basically a slightly more tan version of a mole person who lives in the sewer system of a more bustling metropolis and has come to accept his fate because he has never known the above-ground world. It just sounds like an assholey, pretentious thing to say, no matter how nicely you put it. The point is simply that the city wasn’t working for you, and you had to leave. But no judgment for those who chose to stay. No judgment.
5. Why are you still single?
Because I’m a giant bridge troll oozing pus from all of the open sores all over my body and I don’t want to get anyone’s upholstery wet right now.
6. Why did you take on all of that debt?
Is there really a way to go about this without inciting even more mockery about how much of a financial hole you have put yourself and how supposedly “worthless” the education you got out of it was? Not really. I mean, you can go ahead and explain how your institute of higher learning, as with most of them, encouraged you to take out exorbitant loans on heavily-inflated hiring statistics and promised the kind of skill sets which would make you the most completely employable person for the rest of your life. But chances are they probably already know about the swindle. They’re just kind of being a dick. Taunting you about making poor financial choices at the ripe old age of 18 is truly the equivalent of kicking sand in the eyes of a three-legged puppy who is coming towards you to be pet. It’s just not cool.
7. Why aren’t you having any fun?
Because I hate this party and everyone at it and you all dragged me out here because you insisted that if I stayed home yet again, I would be branded with the dreaded “lame” iron and kicked off the social island for the rest of the foreseeable future. But now I’m here, so I’m just going to get drunk in the corner by myself. Excuse me.
8. Why don’t you love me?
When you don’t love someone, you just don’t. And there is no way to soften that, or make it sound better, or provide any kind of runner-up consolation prize that isn’t a complete slap in the face. There are often just those unrequited feelings which leave one person feeling like an anthropomorphic pile of feces and the other like the world’s biggest asshole. But that’s life. You can either lie to the person and pretend to love them (please don’t do this) or give them any host of unsatisfactory answers which all basically boil down to: “Because you’re not what I want, and someone else is.” Either way, it won’t be pretty. Have fun!