I’m home from college so naturally all my relatives want to know “How is it? How are your classes? How’s your roommate? What do you do on the weekends?”
I kind of hate those classic questions.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s so nice that people go out of their way to ask
how I’m doing. And if they haven’t seen me in months, The Classic
Questions are sometimes all people feel comfortable asking.
But what I hate about the classic questions is that there are only so
many before one of two things happens: either the conversation
awkwardly ends and you both walk away to talk to different people, or
the person asks you something a bit deeper, like, “How are you REALLY?
What’s been hard about it? What do you wish you could change about the
The sad reality is that rarely do the classic questions lead to the
deeper ones. Usually both people walk away to talk to different people.
But last night a woman asked me the classic questions, and then she
asked me a deeper one. She asked me, “What did you expect to be great
about college and then when you got there it wasn’t so great?”
The question made me think. It allowed me to open up and say, “You know
what, people sugarcoat the first semester of college. They look back at
their 4-year experience and say that it was great, but they forget the
rough transition, the lonely nights, the confusing situations, the
shocking grades.” And I began to open up that, yes, I finished with
good grades, but I didn’t start with them. I began to open up that,
yes, I have friends, but I still had lonely nights. I began to admit
that while I love my school, it’s not perfect. And we began to have a
meaningful conversation where we truly connected.
So today I’m wishing more people would ask the tough questions. When
you run into someone home from college, ask how they’re really doing.
Ask what they hate about college. Ask what they wish they could change
about their experience.
It may seem like you’re opening yourself up to depressing
conversations, but my conversation last night wasn’t depressing; it was
a bonding moment. It wasn’t small talk; it was real talk. And real talk
understands that not everything is perfect and that we all go through
hardships amidst the fun times.
I left that conversation feeling like the woman really understood how I
was doing. She celebrated with me when I told her about all the fun
times, the A+ paper, the crazy basketball games. And she sympathized
with me about the first horrible test grade, the Saturday night when I
felt alone, the time when I looked around campus and worried that no
one really knew me. And together we rejoiced in the fact that I am
truly living because I’m riding this roller coaster of life.