Hey guys! I’m Dana, a recent college grad from Sonoma State University and newly appointed Social Media Intern here at A+D. As Annie’s internship is coming to a close, I’ll be taking over the blog, continuing to post every Tuesday and Friday. I’m excited to be a part of and witness the publishing process through the lens of a boutique agency. It’s so cool to be a part of a publishing movement specializing in artistic branding and helping contemporary writers craft their written work. At the same time, I’m also really looking forward to chatting with you guys about the books that are changing and shaping my life! Anyone who’s been in their early 20s – or is currently going through them – knows that they come laden with growing pains. So, here’s the place to explore them, to let them out. You can just think of me as your modern-day Bridget Jones – the bookish version!
With all that being said, for my first contribution to the Tuesday Book Journey, maybe it’s important that I tell you about my own journey.
I grew up in a family of readers and writers. One of my earlier memories includes shadowing my dad at work and him keeping me entertained by setting me in front of a computer with an open, blank Word document. With tiny, unskilled fingers I began writing my own rendition of a Scooby Doo adventure, using my own imagination to send the cast on a crazy chase through a haunted house. Instantly, I was tickled by the newfound knowledge that I had the ability to create and absorb an entirely new world; that, once a written word has been inked onto a page, that space will exist forever, always available to return back to.
Reading became that escape for me in the same way. How unfair is it that I never got to attend a world-renowned undergraduate institute specializing in witchcraft and wizardry? No problem, there’s a book — or seven — for that. I completely fell in love with the ability to spend an hour or two a day swept into a different place. As I matured, so did the types of books I read. As an English major in college, I was exposed to stories and novel genres that I’d never considered exploring — one of my favorite aspects of the major.
There’s that old saying: If what you want to read doesn’t exist, then write it yourself. In my last semester of college, I took a directed writing course. This involved meeting with my professor one-on-one every month to review and critique portions of my own writing. I found myself constantly wanting to capture the teenage/early adulthood crises that I was all at once experiencing (and still am experiencing). This genre, my professor pointed out, fit almost perfectly within the ‘New Adult’ classification.
Having never heard of this genre at all, I decided to do my own research. New Adult is self-explanatory, but up until that point I had never stumbled across its existence. I always figured that once I outgrew YA novels, I’d have to move on to reading those pocket-sized, paper-back romance books that I’d seen older women read on the train. Now, there was an opportunity to explore a sort of stepping stone genre that would reflect back to me the same things I was experiencing in my early 20s.
In the realm of non-fiction, I received a recommendation from a friend to check out “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now,” written by clinical psychologist Meg Jay.
Using stories from her own patients, Meg Jay concludes that misinformation has led most 20-somethings to believe in the commonly heard phrase,
“Thirty is the new twenty.”
Gasp. I found myself looking up from my book, glancing around the room, and thinking to myself, “Well, shit. I thought that, too.”
Like most people in their twenties, I guess I assumed that this particular decade was a sort of waiting room for the rest of my life. Sure, I graduated college, but now I was ready to twiddle my thumbs until it was time to settle down with someone, have kids, and dive into all those other, not-so-fun adult things.
What I enjoyed about Jay’s message was that it was, essentially, a cautionary warning to young 20-somethings meant to empower them to take charge of their lives instead of sitting around waiting for the future to find them. At 22, there are some days when I feel as though I’m already falling behind my peers.
There’s also something to be said for the feeling of moving back home after four years of independence, only to be once again relegated to the four walls of my childhood bedroom. The juxtaposition of trying to jumpstart my adult life at the desk where I once learned my multiplication tables has instilled in me a new kind of insecurity. In a day and age where seemingly anyone can move to L.A. and become a social media influencer makes it sound as though any other career path is a wasted effort.
What I appreciate about “The Defining Decade” and Jay’s message is that it seems as if this overwhelming uncertainty, apprehension, and insecurity is normal and expected in your 20’s.
“Our twenties can be like living beyond time. When we graduate from school, we leave behind the only lives we have ever known, ones that have been neatly packaged in semester-sized chunks with goals nestled within. Suddenly, life opens up and the syllabi are gone. There are days and weeks and months and years, but no clear way to know when or why any one thing should happen. It can be a disorienting, cave-like existence. As one twentysomething astutely put it, “The twentysomething years are a whole new way of thinking about time. There’s this big chunk of time and a whole bunch of stuff that needs to happen somehow.”
As I always like to play the part of the devil’s advocate when I reflect on a book I’ve read, I will say that those interviewed in the book are part of a specific subset of 20-somethings: Caucasian, heterosexual, and middle-to-upper-class. There is something to be said about having the access and the resources to afford therapy of any kind.
Meg Jay discourages against 20-somethings finding jobs in retail and food-service because it doesn’t ‘look good’ on a resume. To that I say, “Wouldn’t it be better to work at all rather than have a gaping hole in your resume?” Yes, it makes more sense to find a job in your desired field but that isn’t always possible. Sometimes — and more often as Millennials — you have to take work where you can find it in order to pay rent and other expenses.
I do see the value in becoming self-aware and recognizing that during our twenties it is necessary to do some serious soul-searching and start laying the foundation for our future. Should we hold out until we’re offered a high-paying job with full benefits and weekly bring-your-dog-to-work days? (although, that might just be my own dream).
As this is a journey, I have no way of wrapping up my own experiences and drawing useful conclusions. What I’m beginning to learn is to be comfortable in the uncertainty and lean in to the fruitful possibilities that I’m sure to find along the way. Right now I can set a reasonable goal for myself: to document, however disjointed or topsy-turvy, my life as a new adult.
I’m Dana, a recent college grad from Sonoma State University and newly appointed Social Media Intern here at A+D here to chat with you every Tuesday and Friday. I’m excited to be a part of and witness the publishing process through the lens of a boutique agency. It’s so cool to be a part of a publishing movement specializing in artistic branding and helping contemporary writers craft their written work. Here, we’ll chat about the books that are changing and shaping our lives! So, here’s the place to explore them, to let them out. You can just think of me as your modern-day Bridget Jones – the bookish version!