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When did THIS question become so hard to answer?

I swear only a couple of years ago, I used to absolutely love talking about myself. I lit up at any opportunity to discuss the projects, the social events and career progression that was filling my calendar.

I wouldn’t go so far to say I was cocky, but certainly comfortable on the topic of Kenzie.

It’s only in the past year or so that I’ve found myself oddly daunted by these six words.

What have you been up to?

I tend to answer with “not much.” And proceed to regret my words.

On almost all occasions, this answer is a lie. I’m a Type A personality.. I have a problem with burnout. I’m a self-sabotaging YES man. I do a lot of things -- and doing “not much” isn’t really one of them.

So am I deceptive or modest for responding this way? Maybe both.

Here’s how my thoughts then ensue.

What’s the alternative? If I admit I’ve been super busy, do I become that annoying person who is constantly busy? What if they question what’s making me busy? What if my answer doesn’t feel “busying” enough?

I know that I’ve been busy, but I can’t think of a single “new” thing I’ve done.

. . .

If only the neurons in my brain could speak, they’d say this.

“What’s something shocking? Anything shocking! Surprising! Exciting!”

“We need these files YESTERDAY!”

“I swear I just saw them on your desk.”

“Oh no, we’ve already used that. That’s old news.”

“There must be something around here!”

. . .

And so the (real-life) conversation continues. I incidentally belittle what I’ve been doing, often because I’ve been too busy to clock my own actions (there we have it, I’ve become that annoying person).

When I simply don’t feel like there’s any news to share, I just don’t share any. I admit that little has changed. Life has been usual.

Next thing I know, I'm feeling this weird sense of disappointment. Like normalcy is not enough. Like I should have kick-started some new business venture in time for this conversation. To say that I’m still working on the same one as last week? Hell no. That feels boring, mundane, unprogressive.

Am I the only one?

Who sometimes feels convinced that no news is not good news. That we must always have news. And in a generation of young entrepreneurs, that it must always be more impressive than the last piece.

Now, I am absolutely certain this is not the cycle folk mean to cause when they ask such a simple question. But I bet you anything that it’s not only my neurons that go berserk. I bet you it's yours, or your mate’s brain that goes dancing as well.

The thing is, we live in a generation that thrives off instant gratification. It’s why we no longer spend our lives in a single job. It’s why we’re all obsessed with having side hustles.

It’s no longer enough to just be a human who exists and goes to work and seeks a partner and hopes for a family and sees their cousin and maybe eventually, gets a promotion.

You’ve also got to be pursuing three side ventures (that by the way, ought to be hitting weekly and shareable goals). Not to mention, you should also be taking up a new sport, inundated with social occasions and new business ideas for when the previous three become slightly stale.

Let’s go back to high school for a second.

Here we would see our friends everyday, and thus, there was no need to ask for some immense update. No one expected you’d done anything wild overnight (other than perhaps, pace towards a deadline).

Fast forward to early adulthood, and you’re seeing people that little bit less. Maybe once a week now. And so creates the space for that infamous question.

What have you been up to?

If you also find yourself rallying up every bit of information you have in order to qualify as “news”, hear me out.

It’s okay to have no news. Life is not always filled with news to share. And sometimes, that’s a really good thing.

Sometimes, it’s okay to be purely enjoying it. And not to be starting some new project.

In fact, sometimes, you really ought to finish the last one.

Next time someone asks us that infamous question, let’s answer together.

What have you been up to?

Mostly just trying to balance being a human. Waking up. Working. Exercising. Eating. Trying to get enough sleep.

Oh, and I’ve been working on the podcast too. But frankly, that’s a bonus.

The other human shit takes up most of my time, and that’s okay. Sometimes, being a human (and not even an exceptional one, just an average one) is enough.

And as of right now, I’m happy with that.


Co-host of What the Gap Podcast

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