We’ve all been there. You get together with a friend who you haven’t seen in a little while, and they ask you, “So what’s up?” or, “What’s going on in your life?” or, “What have you been up to lately?” And your mind goes totally blank.
It’s not that your life is boring, but maybe there just hasn’t been a lot of drama lately. Everything’s kind of stayed the same. Nothing new to report.
Of course, the whole reason your friend asked you that question in the first place – aside from genuinely wanting to know how your life is going – is that they wanted to spark a conversation, and those standard questions are an easy way to do it.
So, with that in mind, here are five ways you can answer that question if you don’t have a “real” answer. Let me know how they work for you!
1. “Right now I’m obsessed with…”
In my journal-writing, I often talk about things that feel “emotionally significant” to me at the moment even if they’re not significant to my life in a tangible, physical sense.
You might be binge-watching a show on Netflix, fanatically following a particular news story, or ploughing through a delightful novel. You might have seen a rad YouTube video you want to ramble about, or maybe you just learned to cook a new meal and now you want to make it every damn day.
Whatever you’re fixated on at the moment, you don’t need to hide it away and look for something “more interesting” to talk about. Your friend is your friend for a reason. They’ll probably find your obsession charming. Or at least it’ll get a conversation started.
2. “Sometime soon, I’d like to…”
If nothing riveting is happening in your present, you can always talk about what’s gonna happen in your future.
For example, lately when friends ask me what I’m doing, my answer tends to include, “I think I might go on a trip to Newfoundland next year!” There’s nothing concrete about that, but it’s okay, because my friends still tend to find it interesting and it leads us into a conversation about travel, saving up, future plans, et cetera. That type of conversation is always exciting, even if none of our plans have officially been made yet!
3. “I was just thinking about that time that we…”
Just as projecting into your future can prompt fun conversations, so can reaching back into your past.
This can be especially enlightening with friends you’ve known for a long time. By talking about experiences you’ve shared, you strengthen your bond, and you can also reflect on how far both of you have come.
I have one friend who loves this type of conversation and approaches each one very thoughtfully. Some questions we’ll often ask each other as we talk about our past are, “What do you think you learned from that?” and “If you could do that over again, what would you do differently?” You can learn so much about your friend – and yourself! – by contemplating these questions together!
4. “This might seem small, but…”
If you haven’t got any “big” life updates to share, it’s perfectly fine to rattle off some small ones. You never know where you might find some common ground with a friend. They might have some advice for you, or they might be going through something similar.
Maybe you just installed a new TV in your house… or your ex-girlfriend posted something questionable on Facebook… or you ran into a former teacher. Whatever. It doesn’t need to be earthshattering. Your friend is your friend because, at least in part, they find you entertaining and pleasant – including your more mundane tales.
5. “Not much! So I think I need to…”
If you routinely find it difficult to answer when a friend asks you what’s going on, maybe that’s because you’re in a bit of a rut.
It’s totally okay to be happy with the status quo, but if you’re finding that you want to make some changes, maybe you can tell a friend that and see what suggestions they have for you.
If your job bores the fuck out of you, maybe it’s time to look for a new one. If your relationship feels stagnant, maybe you need to re-ignite it or call the whole thing off. If you’re feeling unchallenged across the board, maybe it’s time to learn a new skill or force yourself to try something new.
Your friend may be able to see a blind spot or destructive pattern that’s preventing you from moving forward, which is why it’s useful to have this type of conversation with a friend instead of just mulling it over inside your head.
I’m curious: how do you answer the “What’s going on in your life?” question if you don’t have much to say?