If you’re like me, you’re one of the few people in your family who ever aspired to be a doctor. And, when you’re around the family, often they ask you that dreaded question, “So, when are you going to be done?!”
Reactions to this question probably depend on the state of your work and how much eggnog you’ve consumed. Possible responses include:
- What’s it to you, *******?
- Why don’t you try writing it and see how fast you finish, buddy.
- I’ll get done when I get done, alright? Geez.
- This is never going to end. Ever.
- I’m still planning on graduating in 2011, how many times do I have to tell you?
- It it totally normal to take this long, okay?
It’s natural to get frustrated at the question, which can seem invasive and judgmental. You agonize daily over your tiny bits of incremental progress, and here’s some jerk insinuating that you should have been done years ago.
Your relatives think they’re making harmless small talk. Some of them hated school and are amazed that you can survive it. Others probably wish that they had gone to grad school. Some are impressed at the amount of work you’re doing. Some of them are older, and the years are blurring together for them–they can’t remember if this is your third year in school or your seventh.
So smile and thank them for asking. Or watch them flounder when you ask how long until they retire. But keep your shirt on. They really and truly did not mean it like that.
Nevertheless, when the question is put to me, I always think, “It’s almost like my family is trying to make me feel guilty for doing well and making a better life for myself than they have.” Course that could just be me.