Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown
I finished the Tami Hoag book I was reading and it was such a doozy (in a good way). I picked up some more lighthearted books to kinda 'recover' from the murder-eyness. This was one of the books I picked up. While written in a fun tone it is serious but it does not deal with murder and mayhem and pissy men.
Title: Adulting: How To Become a Grown-Up in 468 Eash(ish) Steps (**there is a second edition, with more tips**)
Author: Kelly Williams Brown
Page Number: 273 (paperback)
Genre: humor, self-help, non-fiction
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group
If you graduated from college but still feel like a student . . . if you wear a business suit to job interviews but pajamas to the grocery store . . . if you have your own apartment but no idea how to cook or clean . . . it's OK. But it doesn't have to be this way.
Just because you don't feel like an adult doesn't mean you can't act like one. And it all begins with this funny, wise, and useful book. Based on Kelly Williams Brown's popular blog, ADULTING makes the scary, confusing "real world" approachable, manageable-and even conquerable. This guide will help you to navigate the stormy Sea of Adulthood so that you may find safe harbor in Not Running Out of Toilet Paper Bay, and along the way you will learn:
What to check for when renting a new apartment-Not just the nearby bars, but the faucets and stove, among other things.
When a busy person can find time to learn more about the world- It involves the intersection of NPR and hair-straightening.
How to avoid hooking up with anyone in your office -- Imagine your coworkers having plastic, featureless doll crotches. It helps.
The secret to finding a mechanic you love-Or, more realistically, one that will not rob you blind.
From breaking up with frenemies to fixing your toilet, this way fun comprehensive handbook is the answer for aspiring grown-ups of all ages.
I picked this book up on a whim. 100% because of the title. I'm in that lucky subset of millennials that were in college during the recession. There were no jobs anywhere (none that paid) and everyone was fighting to volunteer. Yup, there were wait-lists to scoop up poop at the shelter. It wasn't great.
When I graduated college, I received some books that were supposedly helpful on future life, etc. but I didn't find them very useful and ended up donating them. While no longer a new grad, I found this book far more useful as it's filled with basic, common sense advice from a variety of sources. Granted, I'm sure most of the advice is known but you can't know it all (or remember it all) and maybe you never learned. I have more detailed books and sources for everything she wrote but I don't find anything wrong with her stuff. This is a basic suggestion written with humor. It gives a starting map for you to go and find more information about the subject itself (for example, she mentions starting a 401K...that's up to you to look that up).
I fount the reviews that didn't like it for reasons to fit into two categories. One is fair and one is pretentious self-assurance. Sure, it would be a utopia if everyone had parents who explained all this stuff to them...but not everyone does. So those people were instantly disregarded. The other critiques noted that this advice comes from a WASPish viewpoint (white, middle class and college educated) and the advice given reflects that. I think this is a valid critique--it's narrow in scope. I've included some pages below. I found the humor tongue-in-cheek but apparently some people took "make sure you have toilet paper" as deadly serious.
The book is divided into twelve chapters with "steps" within the chapters. The steps continue throughout each chapter into the next so you can pinpoint a step easily. The tips fit into the broad themes of the chapter, some tips are most useful than others.
The Introduction talks about 'adulting' as a verb and leans on the humor of an age. The phrase "adulting is hard" comes to mind and that's the humor mindset she means with adulting. 'Adulting' = being a responsible adult in all ways. You can be an adult and eat pizza and have a Netflix binge but that's not what 'adulting' means in the context. The introductory chapter also lays out the format of the chapters, with doodles, Q&As and discussion questions.
The first chapter is titled, 'Get Your Mind Right' is about going from mommy and daddy's special big boy/girl to individual in the world. More or less. After that, it covers more complex issues but in short bursts. For example, step 5 is " Set reasonable goals for yourself", which as a topic has led to whole aisles of self-help books, professions in career coaching and personal coaching and long therapy sessions. Brown gives it a small paragraph, leaving the reader to note if that's something to be worked on they should go out and find more resources. Another step is number 12, "Distinguishing Between Horses and Zebras" which comes from her godmother's quote "If it's making a galloping noise, it's probably a horse, not a zebra". This invokes a longer section about general anxiety over thinking about the worst possible outcome. In my case, when my brain hurts, it's probably a migraine and not a brain tumor.
Chapter two, "Domesticity" is where Brown mentions toilet paper. She jokes that that most 'jolting' days of adulthood comes when you run out of toilet paper and it doesn't magically reappear. Her joke got a bunch of people's panties in a twist on goodreads but she was pointing out that as an adult, you are responsible for your own shiz now. This leads to step 18, or "buy toilet paper in bulk." It's funny advice. I think I'm still rolling my eyes at all those people...can you block annoying people on Goodreads? Good Lord. Other steps deal with decorating, picking out an abode (check to see electricity costs), cleaning and moving. Advice you probably received before but it's nice to have in one section. Step 43 is "Every so often, bleach your sink, tub and toilet." This advice seemed pertinent because two of the places I lived come with dingy tubs. Who doesn't maintain their tubs? Apparently enough people to keep me buying bleach by the huge tub fulls.
Chapter three is about "Cooking," which is a useful thing to know how to do. Ever since the Food Channel decided to just show cookery contests and British chefs screaming at people instead of actual how-to shows I've been checking out...YouTube. I know, I know. There are some decent channels on there on all sorts of food from all over the world. Anyways, this chapter covers the basic supplies, some basic ingredients (i.e. how to prep a basic list), learn easy recipes (oatmeal counts), some easy recipes are included and proper cleaning techniques are also added as a last step. Look, not everyone knows how to cook...ask the boy who burned up the microwave making easy mac from my dorm...but it's easy to learn. This chapter wasn't as thrilling to me personally because I love cooking and hosting but not everybody does.
Chapter four is titled "Fake It 'Till You Make It" and covers how you appear to the outside world. This chapter is about manners for the most part (RSVP, don't viciously gossip, be polite, etc.) For instance, step 89 is to be aware of local, national and world events. This helps you stay connected and also helps you not appear like a total moron in public. It's important to know the importance of the European Union, it is less important to know that Warren G. Harding lost the White House china collection in a poker game. Step 111 is below and deals with how to give critiques or other items.
Chapter Five is titled "Get A Job." The job search process can be demoralizing as all get out, which Brown acknowledges. This chapter covers the basics of networking (meet, get contact info, etc.), clean up your social media, polish your resume, interview etiquette and preparedness. Step 151 is 'Some industries require an internship; if so, go get one.' I despise unpaid internships but if it is a stepping stone in your career field, than get one (and then destroy the unpaid internship model from the inside). Basically, prep yourself for your future. After this nugget, the chapter covers work wardrobe, work relationships (romantic [no] and professional [yes]), document the creeps, put it your best work and how to leave a job gracefully.
Chapter six is "Money" and in my opinion, one of the most important aspects for your future. You're going to need it, going to need to manage it and going to need to save it. Obviously, this is just one chapter but there are so many resources on how to achieve financial success or even breathing room. Step 195, 'Ignoring money issues won't make them go away. In fact, the opposite will happen.' Once you accept this, the rest of the chapter deals with budgeting (below), responsible credit card management, maintaining credit, 'free' or cheap fun ideas (swaps, lunch instead of dinner, etc), saving for the future( 401k), taxes and compound interest. Granted, it's easy to spend less than you earn if you are earning enough to do that. In this sense, this is money 101...for people who are able to have enough money coming in that they can save. Other than being more frugal with tips, I'm not sure how this could help people with huge loans where they can't even pay off the interest (school, medical, etc.). Again, this is a book on basics and it's a nice chapter for that.
Chapter seven is titled "Maintenance" and is about taking care of your possessions, cars (oil change, tires, etc), clothes (Washing, ironing, storing), houseplants (try not to kill them--a task I have not managed as of yet), pets (they cost money!), household appliances, and yourself (step: 283 is 'wash your hands' which you shouldn't have to tell people but imagine my horror when I discovered one of my coworkers does not wash her hands after going to the loo....wtf?!).
Chapter eight is called "Friends and Neighbors" with suggestions on how to make friends and how to maintain friendships (step 295 is 'reach out'). Step 308 is 'Don't date your friend's ex' which is shockingly needed for some people. The second half of the chapter deals with how to be a good neighbor (be quiet, be respectful and be kind) and how to deal with neighbors who might not be that way with you (try to be accommodating but go and talk and ask nicely...sometimes people don't know). This doesn't deal with what happens if your neighbor is someone who is inherently evil or doesn't care that they're super loud.
Chapter nine is titled "Love" suggests learning how to be okay with yourself, asking others out, how to navigate the FWB thing, don't be the 'other person'/third wheel in a romantic relationship, dating advice (step 348 is 'don't get drunk on the first date'), cohabitation, breaking up and basically how to be a responsible adult in a relationship. Basically, you're dealing with your emotions and other people's emotions--it can get messy but it's best to handle things as well as you can.
Chapter ten is titled "Times Were Tough" and deals with the events big and small that are obstacles to a chill day. This can include your car breaking down to death or medical issues. Step 392 is 'Own at least basic first-aid supplies', this is an easy one because most pharmacies will carry a pre-packaged kit for you to pick up. Step 408 is a bit more egregious, 'Say the right things when someone has suffered a loss', Brown starts this step with what not to say before going on to what to do. I morbidly laughed through this step as all the "do nots" had been said to me repeatedly after I lost a parent. I also had people just bail and when I confronted them (or someone else did) out of concern for them I discovered they just didn't want to be around 'sad things' and so ghosted. Sure, ten years of friendship down the drain but whatever. So yeah, learn how to not be a jackass. The chapter continues with legal aid and wills.
Chapter eleven, called "Families" is about how to be a good relative (being that you have healthy, good contact with your family). Step 435 is "call as much as you can" for parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc. this can be weekly, monthly, etc. Just stay in contact. Set boundaries, how to deal with visits and holidays, how to be a house guest or how to be responsible if staying with relatives long term. Also covered, how to treat new relatives (people who marry in, etc.), how to deal with toxicity (small to large) and ends with step 468, 'recognize that family is like love--a huge pain in the ass that's worth it a million times over.' Obviously, everyone has a different relationship with their family but I think the main point is to be healthy and kind to yourself. If you want to keep family in your life, make an attempt to stay in contact. If you don't...don't start a feud that ends up in the history books.
The last chapter is the conclusion (a short one page item), acknowledgements and then an index where you can look for the advice by theme.
I think this book is great for someone who just graduated from college. Especially if they're starting to look for a job. I understood the complaints and I do think that this book gives advice to those who fit a certain age bracket (and perhaps social economic standing). The writing is nice, calm and witty. There are illustrations that seem to work better in the print than the eBook. I gave it four stars because I think it's fine for me but great for the target audience. It's easy to read and gives nice common sense advice. My only complaint is that it is narrow in audience focus and that it doesn't always go into huge detail into the topics that I thought were important (money--where to find basic budget worksheets or how not fall into a pyramid scheme; in personal development I would include how to decide what sources for news are acceptable). These are probably minor in the scheme of things but I thought they were important enough that I noted they weren't there. Of course, if everything gets included the book would be 800+ pages long.
I have Brown's other book (on etiquette) and it reads similar. I prefer this book more, but I did go to finishing school so I didn't learn much but I doubt I was the target audience for it.
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