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Book Review: 101 Secrets For Your Twenties

   Posted On: July 22, 2013  |    Posted In: Millennials  |     Posted by: Broke Millennial®

So you’ve made it into your 20s, well done! You’ve probably graduated from high school, possibly gone to college, jumped into the throes of your first job, hopefully avoided being a cast member on a reality show, and still feel completely adrift about life. Perhaps you tried to find the answer in books with titles like, “What Color Is Your Parachute?” or “How to Be A Working Actor” or “Personal Finance in Your 20s For Dummies.” If the total 987 pages of those books didn’t work for you try 101 Secrets For Your Twenties.

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(No? Just me then?)

Several weeks ago, I watched author and blogger Paul Angone announce the launch of his book in New York City. He gave a quick, I’d call it motivational, speech about life as a twenty-something and the journey that led him to pen his first novel. Like so many of his fellow millennials (yes, even at 30 he still counts as a millennial), Paul had experienced the angst of trying to find a job after college. He couldn’t believe newspapers weren’t just flinging their doors open to usher him into a dream job at the ripe-old age of 22.

The title may make it sound like another quick-fix guide, but instead it’s an empathetic friend providing the emotional support you need during a trying time. 101 Secrets simply offers the reader excellent guidance for navigating into adulthood. Paul wrote the book in his final year of the 20-something experience. He hopes to use his own trials and tribulations in his third decade of life to guide other wayward souls.

 

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Much of 101 Secrets reads like a series of witty Facebook status updates and Tweets. Secret #44 — The Freshman-Fifteen is nothing compared to the Cubicle-Cincuenta. Secret #3 — Making and Keeping friendships in your 20s is harder than G.I. Joe’s Abs. While other secrets are more thought-provoking. Secret #35 — Obsessive Comparison Disorder is the smallpox of our generation.

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(After a year of working three jobs which required me to be on my feet, a cushy desk job certainly put some extra pounds on me.)

The pages alternate between a one-off of secrets that warrant no explanation and captivating pieces of wisdom which provide some insight into Paul’s own life. The explanations, like the secrets, vary between comedic repartee and frustratingly honest.

You might chuckle on the subway ride to work when you read, “If you stay at home and start ‘work’ at 10:30 a.m. wearing your sweatpants, by 12:30 you might be downing a sleeve of Oreos and watching 23 Harlem Shakes on YouTube.” Flip a few pages ahead and discover the emotional tale of physically disabled Starbucks barista who “…made the very intentional and radical decision to bring the very best of him to work, even though his work is not always the best.”

The story of the Starbucks barista hit me particularly hard, because I used to be one. I can tell you, with some embarrassment, there were mornings my alarm would go off at 4:30 AM and I’d stumble to the subway thinking, “How can I have graduated college with high marks and awards and be heading to serve people coffee?” There were plenty of mornings I did not bring the best version of myself to work because I did indeed feel the job wasn’t my dream job so why give it my all? I regret those days. While the serving coffee to angry, caffeine-deprived New Yorkers part was truly dreadful, working at Starbucks taught me a lot of value lessons about respect, humility, socio-economics and how to froth milk perfectly.

Because the book is written from Angone’s own life experience, there are certain secrets younger twenty-something readers may not identify with. For example, 20-somethings with no interest in marriage or baby-making won’t jive with nuptial-orientated secrets. Younger millennials may breathe a sigh of relief to learn you aren’t too grownup yet, because 93% of the photos on your phone aren’t of your baby and perhaps watching three hours of your favorite show still does feel like a productive way to pass the time. Why yes, last night I did stay up until 4 in the morning marathoning five episodes of Orange is the New Black and woke up early to work. I don’t even have a dog (or heaven forbid a cat) to take an obsessive number of photos of, so I guess you can tell which group I fall in.

While this book will likely become the next cliche graduation gift, the content is anything but trite. 101 Secrets For Your Twenties addresses the anxiety dreams that keep you awake at night and celebrates the joy of being young and 20, because it isn’t all bad. When else in life are you going to party all night long and still be able to power through work the next day with a hangover?

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(Maybe if you work hard enough in your 20s you’ll have obtained a version of your dream job by 30…? You just never know.)

Disclaimer: I did receive a copy of this book from the author, it has in no way influenced by review. The original version of this story ran on PolicyMic.

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11 responses to “Book Review: 101 Secrets For Your Twenties

  1. Definitely something I will have to read, sounds like a good one. Also on a side note I’ve watched the entire season of Orange is the New Black and it’s amazing. So really savor it because I doubt there will be new episodes until next year 🙁

    1. I should’ve savored it instead of powering through! It’s just so tempting to marathon. I’m two episodes away from the end.

    1. At the NYC event Paul asked if anyone had worked at Starbucks. Apparently, I’m was the only one. Or the only one willing to admit it at least.

  2. This definitely sounds like a book I’d be interested in. Sounds like it brings a lot of hope and humor for all us twentysomethings trying to figure out life, careers, and relationships. It’s not all black and white, and that’s okay : ) Great review!

    1. Thanks, David. It’s a really easy and fun read. There are certainly secrets some readers won’t identify with, but that’s okay. Others will certainly make you laugh out loud, even in public.

  3. This sounds like a great read, It’s nice to know you’re not alone with your insecurities, doubts, and moments! I graduated from university after working at the student union for a year.
    I met with politicians, attended conferences, gave quotes to the media, and advocated for student rights at the provincial and national levels. Then I finished the position, finished university, and began my career doing data entry, photo copying and getting people’s coffee. What a wake up call! This book would have saved my life!

    1. Even though I’ve been out of college two years, it still really made me feel okay about where I am in my life and career. As I face 25 next year, I do feel an impending sense of doom about needing to have accomplished more by my “mid-twenties” and at that point three years out of college. Some of Paul’s secrets made me feel so normal for having those concerns and made me understand life isn’t a race.

  4. I like the part where you reflect on working at Starbucks. I had a job out of college where I thought “why am I working here as a college grad.” I struggled with it for 3 years, but looking back I learned a ton! Like you said humility, respect.. are just a couple. I don’t miss the job at all, but I’m glad I learned to endure it for 3 over years.

    Oh and the marriage/kids part of the book resonated too. Angone is just a year older than me so I couldn’t believe how much the book resonated with me, it was all so true!

    1. I think those on the younger end of the 20-something experience often tend to scoff at the idea of marriage and kids. We don’t appreciate the fact both of those frequently happen in the people’s 20s. I also think living in NYC makes me look at those milestones a bit differently, as women seem to get married and have children later than those in many other areas of the country.

  5. I would say that’s true, although a lot of my peers didn’t get married until recently, 28-29 or so. The age of marriage is still going up. No rush, that’s for sure!

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