I grew up in a small town which I hightailed it out of to Chicago at the age of 22 years old. Although I’d been back several times to visit over the years, I recently returned for a long visit where I found myself on the receiving end of questions regarding why my life wasn’t “normal.” Why no house? No car? No kids? What do you mean you travel and work from your laptop? Why? When are you going to “settle down?” This was all followed by absurd assumptions, simply because my life didn’t look like everyone else I grew up with. Whether speaking of your minimalistic life choices, career, open relationship, religion, or any aspect of your seemingly non-traditional life—here’s how to explain yourself.
The fact of the matter is, you don’t have to explain your seemingly non-traditional life choices. Without a second thought, most people follow the crowd, and check off the next box in life expectations one at a time. You don’t grill them on why they do what they do, so they should do the same for you. Should being the operative word, as many people won’t. Instead, just explain that you are doing what feels right for you—just as you hope they do the same in their life.
Find Common Ground
Not everyone will leave it alone, so focus on finding your common ground. Redirect the conversation by either politely ignoring their question, or saying “thank you for asking, but why don’t you tell me about XYZ?”
Living what others consider a non-traditional life can at times make you feel like the elephant in the room. But it’s better to be the authentic elephant, than the lemming. Just be you!