How to Answer the Most Annoying Question of All Time

Valedictorian. 4.0 grade point average. Barred from graduation.


This week, Prague High School in Oklahoma told Kaitlin Nootbaar that she will not receive her diploma until she formally apologizes for using the word ‘hell’ in her graduation speech.

Nootbaar uttered the ‘profane’ word to describe how she feels whenever someone asks what she wants to do with her life.

In the speech, she reportedly said ‘How the hell do I know? I’ve changed my mind so many times.’

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Of all the naughty words she could have said, ‘Hell’ is the most PG-rated. Seems like the school is picking an unnecessary fight that has now made national headlines.

Nootbaar and Prague High could have avoided this entire situation if the high school senior had answered the question a better way.

‘What do you want to do with your life’?

What an annoying question, and we’ve all been in Nootbaar’s position. At 18 (or, frankly, 28 and 38), few of us have the road-map of life all figured out. People just ask that question because, well, that’s one of the most common things we like to ask each other.

What’s your plan? What are you gonna do next?

Where are you headed?

Nootbaar’s ‘How the hell do I know?’ retort stemmed from a graduation speech in Eclipse: The Twilight Saga in which ‘Jessica’ says ‘Who the hell knows?’ to a roomful of classmates.

Don’t worry. I had to look all of that up.

Kendrick’s full speech is inspiring, but Nootbaar knew better than to rip the entire thing.

So for the high schooler headed to college — or a young adult trying to make it in the work world — here is a more appropriate answer:

“You know what? I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my life, and that’s just fine. My plan is to explore the things that interest me and take advantage of opportunities that come my way. A job might turn into a hobby or a hobby might turn into a job.

“My life is wide open right now, and that’s how it should be. All I want to do is work hard, learn as much as I can, and hopefully the right path will reveal itself.

“So you want to know what I intend to do with my life? Simple: just get started.”

That response might not elicit giggles from the Twilight crowd, but it’s the answer she should have given. No one expects a high school grad or 20-something to have all the answers. People just want to know you have a plan.

Nootbaar will likely go off into the world and do great things. She had already talked of being a veterinarian or nurse.

Both are worthy professions, but there’s one catch.

She’ll need her high school diploma first.




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