I usually stay away from anything that claims to help me. This typically relates to my feelings towards “self-help books”. (After all, if they can help themselves, what are other people doing reading them?!) But for some reason I felt drawn toward two books recently that have sparked a lot of thought about my life and how I want to go about living it. Admitting that I have even cracked the spines of these books makes me feel slimy in some way, and preachy in another; I don’t want to turn into that friend that starts handing out books left and right to her friends that claim to ease the “Quarterlife Crisis” that these books claim we’re going through. But I think there is a grain of truth in the idea—that people in their twenties have a difficult time coming up against reality after thinking that the world within which they existed in college would give them all the necessary tools to “have it all” before the age of 30. I by no means thought that I would be living the dream life by the age of 25 (or maybe even 35) necessarily, but I see now that my idealism about this youngster decade could come crashing and burning to Earth from a foreign and not-so-near planet called “Neverland” sometime soon. I graduated with a B.A. in International Studies and a concentration in Environmental Policy in June—just 4 ½ short months ago. In my book, that’s 4 ½ months too long to still be working the same job you had in college and 4 ½ months too long to still be looking for something more challenging, normal, or maybe even professional. American culture screams to us twenty-two-somethings, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON YOUR BUTT?! GET THAT 9-5 JOB AND YOU’LL BE HAPPY!”. We’re taught that our college degree will mean something and that people will openly and freely accept the fact that we’re qualified because we’ve earned this piece of paper that may or may not arrive in the mail when you want it to (I’m still waiting for mine). Which leads me to think about where this cycle ends—how many degrees are we to earn before we are thought to be fit for this Real World? After reading a few chapters of these “self help books” (ok, ok…they may have helped a little after all), I have come to realize that no one takes an easy path toward their dream career. And that maybe we would be crazy not to lead an illogical way of life during our 20s. We may be more normal than crazed American culture leads us to believe by sitting back, relaxing, and picking up every opportunity that crosses our path just because we can. Besides, it will make for entertaining anecdotes when we turn 30, right?
And if you aren’t convinced that these books have indeed helped me get my head on straight, check them out for yourself:
- It’s a Wonderful Lie: 26 Truths About Life In Your Twenties by Emily Franklin
- 20-Something, 20-Everything: A Quarter-Life Woman’s Guide to Balance and Direction by Christina Hassler
UPDATE: Besides reading these books, there are two things women in their 20s should do– follow Thought Catalog on Twitter and read this NYT article and realize everyone’s in the same tiny, scary boat: