Two Books About Becoming An Adult

I’m unclear whether I count as an adult. On the one hand, I am legally an adult, a doctor, and married. On the other hand, I ran away from home last year, never answer my phone, and really don’t know how to style my hair. I feel that I am no more or less “adult” than I was at 24 (the age I left my home state to attend grad school). I have to wonder if everyone else feels as un-adult as I do.

AdultingI recently read two books (both based on blogs) in order to help me decide if I am adulting in the correct way and, if not, if I am similar to other unadults out there. The first, Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown, presents short steps to becoming an adult. I’ve never actually heard of her website but it seems like an interesting idea. She covers everything from “procuring food so you don’t die” to “when someone is in grief, let them be in grief.” I appreciated the short tips, straight-forward advice, and information about areas that I hadn’t really considered before (e.g., strategic ways to set up a new kitchen vs. just acquiring junk as you make new recipes). I just wish that it had been funnier. There were a few steps that were entertaining. For instance, Step 88: Watch Ya Mouth is a fairly funny way of telling people to stop saying things they will regret later. I came away thinking that there was some good advice in the book but it really didn’t belong on the “humor” shelf of my library.

hyperbole and a halfThe second book was the hugely popular Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. I am a huge fan of her website and eagerly read everything she writes. Her stories are usually funny and touching and hilariously illustrated. In particular, her story This is Why I’ll Never be an Adult pretty much defines my adult experience. I always start out with the best of intentions and just get thrown by the necessity of persisting with those boring chores in order to count as an “adult.” It’s one of the most hilarious stories in the book. Overall, I thought the book was good but not as enchanting as reading her work on her website. Her stories of childhood were funny and, of the ones about her adulthood, I loved the ones about the goose and her dogs. However, anyone who believes this is a full-on comedy book has another thing coming. Brosh has documented her struggles with depression and those were poignant and sad. It isn’t the best book for learning how to be an adult but it is a good one about what a “real” adulthood can feel like.

I’m not sure that either book answered whether I am or am not an adult. Allie Brosh made me feel that there are other adults who are as confused and strange as I am. Kelly Williams Brown made me feel that, if I wanted to, I could take certain steps and make specific plans and become an actual grown up (or at least pretend to be one). I really wish that Hyperbole and a Half would have provided more structure and instruction while Adulting would have provided more humor and personal insight. Combining the two would be ideal.

Are there other books that include instructions or real-life information about what it’s like to be an adult? What would you suggest for people who are trying to become more like real grown-ups?

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