I had a Sunday afternoon cocktail with my fellow un-employee S this afternoon. We were talking about a party that we'd both recently attended and she was telling me how she didn't really know how to answer the question "How are you doing?" When people ask that question, normally, they don't really want to know the answer. And, as someone who has been unemployed for a couple of months longer than dear S, I have come to terms with the fact that people really don't care.
"I'm fine. How are you?"
Nah. It doesn't cut it.
But you can't say, "Well, I'm still looking for a job and it's been months so I'm really frustrated and living on a little under $400 a week in NYC is totally the hardest thing in the world, so I spend most evening sitting on my couch farting around on the internet and, yes, thanks for asking, but I am still single, so that's wonderful as well."
You just can't say that!
Here's the thing. The party that we recently attended, we knew most of the people there. Some of them are also unemployed. And some of them are about to leave graduate school and join the world of the unemployed. And some have lived through serious cuts in their companies and are working a crazy amount of extra hours because their ten person department is now down to just them. And they know that we are unemployed. But what they want to hear when they ask how we are doing ...
"I'm doing ok. Job hunt's still fruitless, but I'm hopeful. I've enrolled for another class for fall, so that's good. How are you?"
S and I were talking about, besides the parties with the people we know well, what to say at say, a reunion, where you're catching up with people you haven't seen in 10 years. Or, perhaps, a wedding where there are family members you will need to catch up with.
I say, just gloss it over. You were laid off due to the economy. You're freelancing. You're looking. New York is great and it will all come around.
Because, no matter what the real answer is, most people you run into at an event like that, don't actually care what the answer is anyway.