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Remember when you were a senior in high school, and no matter where you were, you would get the infamous questions: Where are you going to college? Between which schools are you deciding? Do you know what you want to study? After being asked these questions countless times, you basically recited your answers from memory to anyone who asked.

Fast forward four years, and I’m in the same boat. I am heading home today to see my family (both immediate and extended), and the only reason I’m dreading winter break is because I know I am going to be bombarded with similar questions. Have you decided what you want to do next year? Job or grad school? What city do you want to be in? How about an industry? I thought high school college decisions were bad, but this – totally worse.

The reason I know it’s going to be rough? I’ve already started getting those questions from parents and friends, so I know it is inevitably coming. Each time I suppress my thoughts, my inner anxiety because I truly don’t know what’s in store for me next year, take a deep breath, smile and say: “That’s a great question. I’ve started applying some places, even interviewing, but still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do and where I want to be.” Also I always end with a personal sales pitch – “If you happen to know anyone in the Atlanta or Chicago area looking to hire an awesome marketing grad, let me know.” That’s always a great icebreaker. Let’s be honest, if they are going to put me on the spot, I’m going to turn the tables and give them my own little assignment.

The truth is that answering these questions isn’t easy, but it is a part of life. People are always going to ask you about things you don’t want to talk about, things you want to keep to yourself and not think about. But you can’t live life in a shell. You have be real with yourself in knowing that you may not have all the answers now, but in the end everything always works out. I am a firm believer in “everything happens for a reason” and I always try to live my life by that saying.

So when you’re home and get those annoying questions about your future, don’t let the fear of responding overcome you. Take a deep breath and respond in a positive and polite nature. And don’t lie. Remember the old adage that you never know who knows someone, so ask for advice and ask for help. You never know when one unwanted conversation could lead to something great.

But until then, I’m thinking of wearing this shirt: what do you think?