I spent this entire summer working in a part-time retail job that I didn't really want.
It was not my first plan for this summer—I had an internship lined up that (long story short) fell through.
And yeah, that sucked.
But you know what sucked even more? Explaining it over and over and over again to every person that asked.
I know the intent behind asking those questions is pure: family members wanting to check in with you, pleasant conversation with home-town acquaintances, awkward catch-ups with that one neighbor you see once every couple months. But why is it that we feel like we need to explain ourselves all the time?
We shouldn't feel like we owe others information that we'd rather keep to ourselves.
I'm not saying we need to be straight up combative. We don't need to be confrontational or angry when asked any sort of personal question.
But it should be a perfectly feasible option to say, "You know, I appreciate you caring, but I'd really rather not talk about it."
Any half-way decent person would be okay with that answer. So why is it that we don't often see it as an option?
I think the answer is a societal one. We equate withholding information with either lying or embarrassment. And that's not always the case.
You could argue that asking, "So, what are you up to this summer?" or "How'd you do this semester?" is just a way to start a conversation. Sure, that's valid. But I will say this: if those are the only things you can ever think of to discuss with others, then I can't imagine you're much fun at parties.
If I'm not particularly comfortable with a person, why on earth should they be privy to as much knowledge of me as the people that I am actually close to? Relationships shouldn't be transactional. There isn't some numeric balance that has to be achieved in the exchange of information.
What I'm trying to say is that we deserve to have lives as public or as private as we wish. We should be able to reserve the right to share as much or as little about ourselves as we want to without negative repercussion.
You shouldn't feel guilty when you don't enjoy airing out your dirty laundry to the people you wouldn't ever think to borrow detergent from.
So, no. I'm not going to explain what happened with my internship:
Because I don't feel like it, but more importantly, because I don't have to.