Growing up as a millennial twenty-something can be a confusing time. There’s even a hilarious Tumblr devoted to everything lonely and sucky about being in your 20s (beware, it’s a time-waster).
The latest documentation of a twenty-something’s classic foibles comes from Kelly Williams Brown, an Oregonian journalist-turned-novelist who wrote “Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy (ish) Steps.” The book, which was profiled in the New York Times, has even been optioned for TV by mega-producer J.J. Abrams. Its pages scoop up the advice she solicited from friends and all the skills and things you’re supposed to have or know by the time you’re 30 years old.
Brown outlines more than 400 steps, some of them ironically funny, such as comparing the energy boost of oatmeal to cocaine. The painful part of growing up in this age is that there’s not just one right step. There are definitely wrong steps – abusing drugs, sinking into a mountain of credit card debt, sleeping with a married coworker – but not necessarily a tried-and-true golden staircase of “right” steps. Just like puberty, we end up experiencing a series of awkward experiences. It’s a painful emotional growth spurt.
It certainly doesn’t help that our economy hasn’t rebounded to its peak. A significant number of highly educated “permanent interns” are rolling through their 20s with little job security.
Depending on your outlook in life, the thought of “adulting” either inspires you or makes you incredibly anxious. Maybe you’ve seen this TED Talk on how “20 is not the new 30.” In the video, clinical psychologist Meg Jay urges young adults to take these formidable years seriously, with some room for mistakes and fumbles. She cautions not to make mistakes for the sake of just messing around. Fumbles and self-exploration are encouraged, as long as they’re made with some idea of a direction.
While jobs are tough to get, it’s often said that chaos breeds creativity and opportunity, and out of failure or uncertainty, comes potential for great success.
Because amid that sea of twenty-something job seekers, a certain cadre of snappy upstarts have risen above the flock to make something of their own. Writers, fashion bloggers, tech entrepreneurs and other creatives have built strong personal brands, all in their 20s. They offer hope that, when boosted with the ability to adapt to a changing Internet landscape, college-educated millenials can work a disadvantageous economy to their unique advantage.