R.O.W.E. week 22: For all the 20-Somethings

I’m Brianna Kratz, a Chicago poet and literature enthusiast. In 2016, I’m reading only women authors for my Read Only Women Experiment (R.O.W.E.). For weekly updates on challenges, conversations, and round-up lists of books I’ve read during the month, keep up with me via Goodreads or Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Gingerich Photo courtesy of Andrew Gingerich

The world our parents prepared us for is not the world we are living in.

Through no fault of their own, they couldn’t anticipate the importance of teaching us how to take the perfect selfie, or condense a sarcastic response into 140 characters.

We rely upon the leading social media voices of our generation each for advice, snarky anecdotes, and commiseration. Thanks in large part to the Internet, we can connect to people who feel as we do.

Luckily, during these confusing days I can walk into any bookstore and stub my toe on a table full of books targeted at 20-something women, written by women who are also 20-somethings, just like me! There’s only so much that college courses can prepare a person for, and to fill in the gaps, we have a slew of savvy women offering their guidance.

I recently finished Alida Nugent’s Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood. In her first chapter, Nugent talks about how this generation of parents raised their children to follow their dreams, “There’s no time machine to go back and make us into reasonable creatures. We’re romantic. We’re hopeful. We’re done for. The worst part of this all? The idea of struggle and compromise seems exciting to us—that’s how stupid we are. There’s no stopping fools, I say. We’re still kids at heart. Those dreams are still there. Now we just have to go chase them. And now, we’ve started running.”

To prove Alida Nugent's point, I laughed and cried while reading her book because it was so reminiscent of my own experiences. Even though I could shake with rage over some struggles and dream of giving my two weeks to my dissatisfying day job, I didn’t feel any less optimistic as I read Nugent's words.

We are a generation of optimists. Sometimes clueless optimists, which is why we need self-help books like my favorite reference book, Kelly Williams Brown’s Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps. I fully intended to read a library copy of this book until I realized that it was something I needed to own (thanks, Half Price Books!). Every person who walks across a stage at college graduation should be handed this book along with their diploma.

As an example of some of this fabulous advice, "Step 225: Don't borrow money from your friends. Just don't. It will never, ever turn out well. Don't lend your friends money, either. If you want to help them out, just plan on making it a gift. Or do something non-monetary, like spotting a friend dinner. It'll come back someday."

In an age when social media connects more people than ever and we feel more isolated, anxious, and depressed than ever, women like Alida Nugent and Kelly Williams Brown are shining beacons of the self-sufficiency and humility everyone's striving for whether we realize it or not.

I’m still figuring things out, and I’m thankful to have a support network, but when in doubt, I go to the library for a little help from women like these.

Currently reading: Me and Mr. Darcy by: Alexandra Potter

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Brianna Kratz

Brianna Kratz has a B.A. in English Writing from Illinois Wesleyan University where she learned the importance of "the poetic turn," the difference between thee and you, and how to read Middle English. She lives on the Internet where you can find her on Twitter and Lens & Ink.