“Sometimes surviving your 20s is nothing more glamorous than just holding on for dear life on the back of an inner tube like a kid being whipped around by a speedboat.”
Thus begins Paul Angone’s book 101 Secrets for your Twenties. When I first encountered the book, I was skeptical at best. With all the articles on millennials these days- the good, the bad, and the ugly- I wondered if Angone had anything new to say, if he would actually provide wisdom for the day-to-day realities that accompany this life stage in which I find myself.
What I found was a witty, entertaining, and most importantly real evaluation of the things twenty-somethings often deal with as they navigate their new time in life. From the humorous “possibly everything we needed to learn about being successful as adults we learned from playing Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen San-Diego?” to the more serious “God in His infinite mercy saves us from Syllabus Syndrome,” and “making and keeping friends in your 20s takes intentionality” Paul Angone covers almost every area of life. Physical and lifestyle changes, psychological challenges, relationships and social interactions, and spiritual difficulties are all covered in the 101 secrets in an inviting and helpful way.
Each stage in life has its own set of challenges – emerging adulthood, marriage, kids, empty nesting, retirement, and so on. The things one faces in the first decade of adulthood may or may not be the hardest things we face in life, but that doesn’t diminish the realities of the challenges. Navigating what it means to live as an adult, forming our own opinions, maturing, moving into a new stage – whether in a new location or the one you’ve known for years – can be a challenge. We’re expected to act and think like adults, when often the urge to curl up in a ball and pretend you’re five years old with a teddy bear is overwhelming.
For some, the transition is easy. For others it is a challenge. What I pictured my life looking like in my twenties is very different than my current reality. But that is ok. In a conversation with Bill Haley, he told me your twenties are for exploring the question: “Who am I?” What a blessing. I don’t need to have my life completely figured out. In fact, I shouldn’t! Your twenties are a time for discovery, and Angone reiterates that point over and over again. Secret #60: “Our 20s are not about finding home; our 20s are about finding the right place to build it.”Angone clearly has a heart for helping 20-somethings get through this decade well, while recognizing it won’t be without its bumps and bruises.
The band Train released a song, Bruises, in late 2012. The chorus says, “These bruises make for better conversation, loses the vibe that separates, it’s good to let you in again, You’re not alone in how you’ve been, Everybody loses, we all got bruises, we all got bruises.” Doesn’t that ring true? Bruises don’t come from pleasant times and comfortable places. Instead, they come from being battered, being tried and tested, stretched beyond what we think we can bear. They stand as a sign that I’ve really lived my life; they are a sign of survival.
Every generation faces new challenges in its 20s, and yet some of the same underlying tensions exist for every generation. How do you navigate this new world you’re discovering – the one of adulthood? How do you live well in your twenties and establish habits that will guide the rest of your life? Paul Angone offers a refreshingly humorous look at the challenges faced in the years directly after college, reminding us that we’re not alone in the rocky transition to adulthood.