adulting, by kelly williams brown

If you’ve been around me for more than 30 minutes in the last three weeks, you may have heard me mention my new favorite book…
{sorry Conrad, I’m talking about it again!}

I picked this up from the library before our mini-moon, and could not put it down the entire trip! As Kelly Williams Brown clarifies early on in the book, adulting does not have anything to do with adultery, but rather, how to adult (yes, that is a verb).  Essentially, it is a guide to being a responsible, functioning adult, and it is amazing.

The book is filled to the brim with practical tips, from things as basic as how to keep plants alive and how to start saving money, to touchier subjects like how to deal with your upstairs neighbor’s loud sex/music noises and how to deal with heartbreak. One of the first lessons in the book is possibly my favorite, so I thought I’d share it with you here:

Step Nine: Accept that you are not that special

This is the most difficult and important thing to accept if you wish to be a grownup: You are not a special snowflake.

Well, you are to some people. Your parents, presumably, love you very much and think you are perhaps the most adorable, talented thing ever to prance upon this earth. Your friends agree with them, as do your favorite teachers, as does your significant other. When there is a You Parade, these people will be the flag bearers, the drum majors and majorettes, so make sure you are always flag bearing and drum majoring for them, too. These people who think so highly of us are very special and precious, and you must treasure them. Because here is the truth: Most of the world doesn’t give a fuck about you.

It’s not as depressing as it sounds. It’s not as though the world hates you — it just has no idea who you are. It is, at best, indifferent to your wants and needs, your preferences, your pet peeves and so on. When you walk into a new office, new city, new country, whatever, you are starting from scratch and cannot call upon that loving capital that your friends and family — who are not in this office, city or country — have for you. You sometimes find patches of immediately friendly people, but it won’t be the rule. It is now up to you to find and surround yourself with people for whom you feel affection and respect. Because more often than not, we like the people who like us, right? People will come to care about you, but only if you give them a valid reason. So don’t assume they’ll give you love like your parents, emotional support like your best friend, and cheerful feedback like a soccer coach for 7-year-olds. Because they won’t.

And when you are in college, you make assumptions about how easy things will be or how quickly you’ll rocket to the top. You hit this wall, hard, when the New York Times doesn’t beat a path to your door but instead it is time for you to go be a reporter in rural Mississippi. Or you graduate law school with glorious visions of the important work you’ll do for the Southern Poverty Law Center, but instead find yourself photocopying briefs in Shreveport. Whatever happens immediately post-graduation, chances are good that it will be at least a little disappointing.

Here is how you go around that wall: Accept that for right now, being a small-time whatever is your position. It’s not shameful and it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you’re embarking on adulthood and starting from the beginning, just like every single person must do. From now forward, it doesn’t matter who your parents are or how much money they made, because the accomplishments (and the money!) are yours. You are the the captain of your own destiny, even if it isn’t all that glamorous or fabulous right now.

Congratulations! That was the very most difficult step in being an adult.

Some other gems include:

  • Step 179: Stop enjoying things ironically. Just enjoy them.
  • Central adulting theme: Harden the fuck up
  • Step 388: Those awful shoes will never change their ways
  • Step 188: The proper response to a compliment is “thank you”
  • Step 215: If you are going to wear white, you must* commit to it
  • Step 213: Do not comment on things people are, comment on things they do
and soooo many more. The book is also dotted with amazing illustrations by Kelly herself, that make even the most complicated of concepts easy to understand.

This book is ‘meant’ for young adults entering the real world, but, honestly, I found things in here that could apply to anyone at any time in their life. It’s smart, funny, and insanely helpful. In fact, I bought my own copy on Amazon as soon as I got home, and I’ve been going back and underlining things almost daily.
Tell me, have you read Adulting? What did you think?

All images via Kelly Williams Brown

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