Social Question

Mama_Cakes's avatar

When someone asks you, "why don't you work?", how do you respond?

Asked by Mama_Cakes (9315 points ) January 23rd, 2013

I have a young cousin who doesn’t work due to social anxiety. When we were at a family gathering, I overheard an aunt ask her why she wasn’t working now. I know that my cousin avoids getting together with family because she hates having to explain herself, the social anxiety and she is ashamed, somewhat.

My aunt is either clueless about the social anxiety or is cruel with no tact.

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21 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I have a medical condition that prevents me from working. If the questioner dares to ask what, raise your eyebrows and say “That’s personal.”

Mama_Cakes's avatar

@marinelife That’s a good response.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

You could try “Work is the curse of the drinking class” then walk away while they’re trying to figure it out.

Judi's avatar

My son was on disability for a good part of his young adulthood. Instead of saying that, he talks about his study and pursuit of his passion for music during that time. It’s no ones business that a lot of that time was spent in the hospital and in psychiatric treatment facilities.

JLeslie's avatar

I think your aunt has good intentions, but it gets lost in her lack of understanding about your cousin’s condition. That is if she is aware of it.

Your cousin can just answer, “none of your business,” and shut the conversation down tout suite. Or, she can tell the truth, she feels afraid, out of control by anxiety. Truth might set her free. Your aunt might get a better understanding and more empathy if your cousin explains what she goes through. If she is still in school she can talk abut wanting to focus on school.

Avoiding work might actually feed into her anxiety. I am not unsympathetics to chronic anxiety, it can be debilitating. But, also I know that work can be empowering, bring a sense of self worth and strength.

When someone asks me, I just say I don’t work currently and am very grateful for the opportunity. But, my situation is different than a young woman just entering adulthood.

wundayatta's avatar

“I am a carbuncle on the posterior of society.”

It’s reverse psychology. Feed into their prejudices and make them aware that they may be being rude. But you walk away before they can say anything else. If you don’t get away fast enough, you can say, “That’s really none of your business.” Or “Medical concerns that I don’t choose to share publicly.”

Of course, the aunt, being clueless, will probably not get it.

Pachy's avatar

I think @JLeslie‘s got it absolutely right. Only more thing I would suggest to your cousin is that she have a private conversation with the aunt. No audience, especially family, is needed.

jca's avatar

“What’s it to you?”

JLeslie's avatar

@jca It is an adult relative. Most likely she cares about the girl, don’t you think?

zensky's avatar

I am working… on working. I’ll keep you posted.

Reminds me of someone saying You’re fat, to which the correct reponse would be
Yes, but you’re stupid and I can diet.

JLeslie's avatar

GA @zensky. I like it.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: Yes, but my answer was no more or less rude than any of the others.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

“Because I’m broken.”

JLeslie's avatar

@jca One of my answers I proposed was kind of rude also. :).

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

“I’m a homemaker. I work morning, noon, and night, 7 days per week. I may not work outside of the home, but I work.”

CWOTUS's avatar

I would rather learn “how”. That answer could change my life. “Why?” is just nosy.

burntbonez's avatar

I’m not working, dear aunt Betty, because you refuse to hire me!

tinyfaery's avatar

I’m not sure that’s a taboo topic among family. She should just say it. Once she does, no more questions.

I’m almost always working, but when I had a “breakdown” and people would ask what I do or why I don’t work, I would just say I have psychiatric/psychological issues. I am who I am. If they judge me, fuck ‘em.

YARNLADY's avatar

I had an acquaintance who answered “My drug test was positive.”

Jeruba's avatar

I heard a young woman in similar circumstances say “I’m working on getting better.”

Shippy's avatar

Depending on how she feels she could also say, I do work from home. I make cards, websites, anything. Do we really have to go through life, being interrogated and spilling our guts all over.

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