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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.
(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.
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.
(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?
(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.