44 Things Twentysomethings Say To Their Parents And What They Actually Mean

“Everything’s great” = it’s probably not.

1. “Sorry I didn’t call sooner” – I’ve been putting it off for ages.
2. “I’ve been meaning to call” – I’ve been starting to feel guilty.
3. “I’ve just been so busy” – I have been doing literally anything else.
4. “I just made some food, can I call you back?” – I’m about to make some food. At some point. This week.
5. “I’m just at a restaurant, can I call you back?” – I’m at a bar.
6. “I’m just at a bar, can I call you back?” – I’m at a club.
7. “I’m fine” – I’m a bit hungover.
8. “I’m a bit hungover, to be honest” – I am so hungover. I am more hungover than anyone has ever been. I am lying on the floor and balancing the phone on my ear because I can’t do anything else.
9. “I didn’t really drink” – I had quite a few drinks.
10. “I had a few drinks” – I had A LOT of drinks.
11. “I’m not drinking too much” – I’m probably drinking too much.
12. “How are you?” – Can we stop discussing my failures now?
13. “Oh, that’s interesting” – If you talk more I can stop listening for a few minutes.
14. “That’s great” – I wasn’t listening but you sound happy.
15. “That’s a shame” – I wasn’t listening but you sound sad.
16. “Oh, really?” – I needed to mix up the sounds I was making a bit.
17. “Sure, I remember who that is” – I think you said their name once.
18. “I think I remember them” – I have absolutely no idea, but you’re going to tell the story anyway.
19. “Money’s fine” – I mean, I want more, but I can’t get it.
20. “Money’s a bit tight” – All right, I’m a bit bored of toast for dinner now.
21. “Work’s good” – Work is fine, but I bore myself talking about it.
22. “Work’s all right” – Pretty bored.
23. “No, I’m not working too hard” – I’m working too hard.
24. “There’s a lot of responsibility, it’s pretty great” – I have no idea what I’m doing.
25. “Oh, by the way” – I have a problem.
26. “Something happened last week” – I fucked up, but I can definitely spin it more positively than that.
27. “So I need to tell you about something” – I really fucked up.
28. “But what I was thinking…” – I’m about to ask for money.
29. “It would be really useful if…” – I’m about to ask for a lot of money.
30. “I really need…” – Seriously, I need money, I am in TROUBLE.
31. “I’m not really going out with anyone at the moment” – I have Tinder.
32. “[SO] is great” – I’m still talking to them which is good.
33. “[SO] is OK” – Probably, I don’t know, we’re drifting apart in a mid-twenties malaise.
34. “[SO’s name] is a bit busy at the moment” – We basically broke up already.
35. “I’m usually asleep by about 11 at the moment” – Sometimes I leave before 12.
36. “Went to the cinema the other day” – Watched some Netflix.
37. “I’ve started going to the gym” – I thought about it briefly last week.
38. “Going to an art exhibition next week” – Planning to. Will probably just go to the pub.
39. “I talked to [sibling] yesterday” – I texted them, I think. Maybe last week.
40. “I don’t know what [sibling] is planning to do” – I do, but they specifically told me not to tell you.
41. “I have to go in a few minutes” – I have to go in about 20 minutes so I’m starting to wind this up now.
42. “I actually have to go now” – I have to go about 10 minutes.
43. “I’m late for something, I need to go” – OK, I really do need to wrap this up pretty soon.
44. “I think my phone is dying” – I’m totally done. I’ve tried everything else.

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Luke Bailey is deputy head of Buzz at BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.
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