When “What’s new?” is the most common and most stressful and most bullshit question ever to exist

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“Tell me what’s new!

This is easily the most commonly used phrase in my repertoire besides “I honestly don’t remember” & “Dill pickle or Barbecue?”

It’s simple. It gets straight to the point and covers all the bases right off the bat. But I think we can all agree that when we ask someone what’s new, what we’re really expecting is updates on:

Love (Is Bumble buzin for ya or what);

Work (get promoted yet?);

Home (you’re moving right?);

Notable fun (I hear you’re going to Vegas?!) No one cares that your regular every day fun; the fact you bought cucumbers to put in your salad simply because you think they’re a fun vegetable to chop. Nobody is asking you about that (but while we’re on that topic – anyone else?)

It’s these umbrella topics that we’ve learned to define our conversations by – and because we keep asking each other about them disguised in the cloak of “whats new?”, we feel this need to keep having things to say about them. And if we can’t fill these buckets – if Bumble is absolutely not the gold mine we thought it would be and if work is normal and home hasn’t changed location and all we did this weekend was eat brunch and do our laundry – if nothing is new, a) how the fuck do we answer that question and b) does this mean our lives are really that meaningless?

Not much is new!” I’ll write. “Chilin. Workin.. Same old. Whats new with you?”

Literally nothing,” they’ll say. “My life is boring. Tell me more about your trip.”

And that is what we all call a conversation.

When I was travelling and living this weird life that wasn’t my ordinary life, everyone’s “life updates” were, generally, the same. They’d tell me their life was boring and ask me to tell them about mine instead. But what they didn’t know was how much I didn’t care if anything was actually “new” in the socially acceptable sense of the word; whether or not they bought a car or a house or got promoted. I mean, of course I cared about those things. BUT in lieu of them – in lieu of any major changes in life – I still cared so much about them.

What was their new go-to lunch spot? Were they curling their hair a different way? What gym class were they going to now?

I genuinely wanted to know, because I genuinely cared about them as people.

But it’s hard to actually understand that – because now I’m home and falling into that exact same response. It’s like I don’t know how to define my life anymore. I’m not on this badass adventure anymore and I’m not backpacking New Zealand in pursuit of the great [Canadian] novel. I’m just a little human in a big city trying to figure out what to do. And I don’t know what to say about it. I’m no longer living a particularly interesting day-to-day and I’m not famous and I’m not climbing that corporate ladder every day. I’m just kind of here now, putting air in my bike tires and brushing my teeth and working a cool job along with everyone else. And that’s that.

And what this all made me realize is what – I think is such a fundamental misunderstanding within the world. That we need to keep doing cool things and progressing somehow and finding big, interesting things to talk about. How we all throw the term “send me your life updates” around but what the fuck are “life updates” even? Significant events that change the course of your whole life? Sure, okay. I absolutely care about those things. I obviously care about the new boyfriends and the babies and the rings – because they’re all so exciting.! And they’re all so wonderful.

But they aren’t the only parts of who we are. They are things we happen to do whilst we live life as ourselves. And if I didn’t buy a house this year but I did buy a new laundry detergent that was on crazy sale and smells so fucking good – well, that’s notable too. I’m allowed to care about that.

And in a weird way, I think our constant asking for updates is simultaneously the nicest and most stressful part of having friends and relationships and acquaintances. Because we keep feeling the need to have updates. To be interesting. To have something to say.

But where did these big umbrella topics even come from? Having nothing to contribute within these pillars doesn’t mean we have nothing to say. It simply means we have other things to talk about. And I think this can be so misunderstood because nobody knows how to ask about these things. So we keep asking about all the same things instead. How’s life? Any boys? How’s work? And so the cycle continues.

So what is my point – that we should stop asking these questions? That we should all lose touch and just awkwardly look at each other and half-smile from time to time? Obviously not.

The point is simply that we’re allowed to define ourselves outside of these parameters. That “nothing is new” is this weird, bullshit response we’ve all been conditioned to say, and thus conditioned to actually believe. But it’s literal bullshit. There is always something new. Maybe it’s small. And maybe it’s seemingly meaningless. But we’re allowed to care about it. We should care about it. 

So, hello. I’m back from travelling. I take my coffee differently now and have officially kissed my double-double days goodbye. The other day I was blowing up a balloon for a birthday celebration and it actually hurt my cheeks so much, and I wondered if it was possible to damage my body through the act of blowing up a balloon. Like, burst a blood vessel in my face or something. I drove up to the cottage the next day and wondered that again, because I could still feel this tingling it in my face, which I thought was a little concerning.

That’s literally what’s new with me. You?

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. kat says:

    I’m sat on a bus to Auckland for my first night out in a big city for like, actually a year or more maybe!! That’s new to me and I’m a little bit scared and a little bit excited! To most people that’s no big deal but when nights out have only been to small town Element and Mullies, it’s a pretty big deal to me!! Haha, that’s my new! X

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