Crooked Reads: New Adulthood

At the grocery store, I panicked as I watched each item hobble down the conveyor belt. All I had for scrimping was a measly “Save $1 on two” coupon for ice cream. Don’t tell my mom. I sighed, forgot to put my card in the chip reader instead of swipe it, loaded everything into my trunk, and texted people with demands to know how they afford to be alive AND happy.

One said to focus on a budget but also realize you can’t always stay within your budget and that is OK because life happens. Another said she just sort of crosses her fingers each month.

The roommate had the best string of words: A year ago, you were miserable. You were living at home and working a job that was killing you and you barely had any semblance of a life. But hey, you had tons of money going into savings each month! Now you live in an apartment you love with the best roommate you’ll ever have (Yeah, yeah), you have an amazing job, and you have a life. But no money going into savings. Which do you prefer?

Tough call.

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The week of my meltdown was the week I saw Alida Nugent’s Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood on my friend’s bookshelf and practically begged to borrow it.

This is a delightful collection of essays about being “overeducated, underemployed, and usually hungover.” Hashtag millennial problems or something. Nugent composes herself like many girls of the Internet age: depressed, lazy, sleepy, and a lover of pizza and whiskey. The essays read like a fist bump in solidarity. Oh, you don’t know the boundaries when you move back into your parents’ house? You don’t like to go on dates because you prefer being single? You don’t care about what people think of your body so you’re gonna eat whatever the hell you want? You feel like you are literally drowning in student loan debt? Etc.

A feel-good (ok, feel-bad but then feel-good because of the solidarity) book with tidbits like this one in her imagined speech at her alma mater’s graduation ceremony: “Nobody is telling you what to do anymore — you are your own teacher, your own boss, your own captain. You have to constantly push yourself to get better, or else you will get stuck.”

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Leigh Stein’s The Fallback Plan is the fiction side of Don’t Worry. A short novel about a young woman who graduates from college and moves back into her childhood bedroom. She feels trapped, tries to hang out with her old friends, but mainly just wants to hide inside.

It’s fascinating reading a fictional version of the life you’re currently living. That was me a year ago, reading this book in my parents’ house, surrounded by my life’s memorabilia, trying to figure out where my life was going.

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How could I write about feigning adulthood without mentioning Kelly Williams Brown’s Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps? My mom got it for me for Christmas, a few weeks after I graduated from college. I’d nestled back home, now equipped with a fancy degree holder and a bunch of dorm furniture that was no longer required.

Brown’s tips and tricks for adulthood are so, so helpful. I wrote briefly about it before, and it remains one of my favorite books to flip through. A lot of advice is common sense, but a lot of it is common sense only when you think about it. Because who ever really gives a thought to the fact that tires are the only part of your car in contact with the ground?

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Up next on my adulthood reading adventures: Personal finance. Wish me luck. Or just give me some dollars. (Joking.)

What are your favorite books on adulting? Any I should know about that aren’t here?