There is no better time to catch up with your distant relatives and friends besides Chinese New Year. While the festivities can be fun, it can also be stressful.
You can expect loads of uncomfortable and personal questions from your nosy relatives immediately after making your round of Chinese New Year greetings, and before you can even warm up your seat!
Here are 5 awkward and uncomfortable questions you can expect during Chinese New Year that will leave you flustered and tongue-tied.
#1. Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
Some of you may recall that it was only a few years ago where everyone was asking you to stay out of relationships and to focus on your studies. Now, barely a few months after your important exams, they are expecting you to have found your other half!
Oh, the irony.
Not surprisingly, many of us can attest to how popular this question is. No matter your reply, you will likely face follow-up questions. Your relatives may also lecture you on the importance of continuing your family lineage, preventing the extinction of the human race and give you a Relationship 101 lecture!
Still, it could be worse — your older siblings will probably have to brace questions about when they are planning to get married or have a child. (SHRIEK!)
#2. How are your studies?
Most of you have difficulties articulating how you are doing with your studies and hence, may have prepared a default list of answers for this question.
Okay-okay lah. Not bad-lah. Great, thanks for your concern.
And the list goes on.
Unfortunately, as a student, this question is inevitable. If you want to weasel your way out of this situation, you may want to avoid your older relatives and take up the babysitting duties of the little ones at home instead.
What Can You Do: We understand you may want to avoid talking about academic-related matters to your relatives during Chinese New Year. However, if you are struggling, this could be an appropriate time to seek their assistance.
Your older relatives may be able to share some important tips on how they studied or even recommend you a good tuition teacher to help you boost your grades before D-Day (for those sitting for major papers this year).
Or, if you need some useful study hacks to improve your memory, check out our article here.
#3. What do you plan to do after SPM/STPM?
We feel you.
You’ve just finished frying your brains for SPM/STPM.
You’re in serious need to give your brain the rest that it so rightly deserves. And your relatives are already expecting you to have figured out what you want to do for the next 4-5 years, potentially for the rest of your life? You have yet to figure out how to solve the math questions in your exam a mere 3 months back!
What Can You Do: The fact is, it is timely for them to ask you this. Time flies, and without you knowing it, you will come to a crossroad where you will need to decide which path to take. Rushing to make a decision will likely cause some U-turns later.
Thus, if you are still undecided, your working relatives may be able to shed some light on your available options. For instance, if you are interested in health-related courses, approach your relatives who are currently working in the same sector or have prior exposure. Their experiences may give you better insights into the demands of the career compared to the stuff you find online!
#4. So, what are you doing now?
Are you working now? Are you working on your scholarship applications? Are you doing anything to make the world a better place?
No doubt, the barrage of questions from your relatives about what you are currently doing can make you feel as though everyone is envious of your free time and hates that you’re enjoying your well-deserved rest and holiday.
While it may evoke a sense of panic or fear in you if you haven’t been doing anything particularly productive, remember to stay calm and polite. They are your relatives, after all.
What Can You Do: These questions may feel intrusive, but it may prompt you to do some self-reflection and shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing. If you’ve been happily loafing around at home and catching up with the latest dramas or K-Pop songs, perhaps you might want to look into doing things that matter to your future.
Whether it involves gaining more work experience (and some income!), acquiring new skills with free online courses, helping out the needy or getting copies of your official documents verified, doing something productive will do you good in the long run.
As Oprah Winfrey says, “Doing your best at this moment, puts you in the best place for the next moment!”
#5. Have you gained weight?
This question (or rather, remark) on your physical development is inevitable and stings the hardest – regardless whether you’re a boy or a girl. So if you’ve been working hard to keep fit and slim, this question will feel like a cold splash of water and is sure to make you lose your appetite (even your favourite bak gua (dried meat) will taste bitter).
The only ones who will be happy with such questions or comments are probably your permanently skinny relatives who can eat whatever they want, thanks to their sky-high metabolism.
Life can be so unfair sometimes!
What Can You Do: Chinese New Year is a time for you to feast on all the delicious delicacies and cookies (without worrying too much about your weight)! No doubt, comments about weight gain are insensitive, but it is your responsibility to choose how to react to it.
Take it light-heartedly and use it as a motivation to work on your fitness resolution after the festive season. Approach some of your fitter relatives and probe them for their diet and workout routines. No more “Have you gained weight?” next year!
No doubt, some of the questions that your older relatives are bound to ask during the festivities can make you feel uncomfortable. While you may be tempted to hit back with a witty counter remark (or avoid them altogether), it helps to put things into perspective and realise that your relatives probably do not mean any ill will. Most of the time, they care, and that is why they asked.
Learn how to manage your discomfort and capitalise on their concerns. Your relatives will always be your most convenient teachers.
That said, we would like to wish you Happy Chinese New Year and Happy Holidays!