Book Review: 101 Secrets for Your Twenties

This is not your parent’s self-help book.

Your parent’s self-help book was about Making Your Dreams Happen! and Working Until You Inevitably Achieve Your Goals! Becoming a Rich Success! and Having it All! Self-help books now are all about how it’s okay to be stumbling around blindly hating yourself.

You’re not alone.

You’re not the only one who can’t afford to live or has no idea what you’re doing. Adulting is hard, and it’s okay to feel that way. We all do.

Paul Angone wrote “101 Secrets for your Twenties” with this message in mind. He’s here to let you know that you’re not alone…in one, long listicle.

In our world, BuzzFeed is king, and everyone plays on their phones while they watch TV. We’re over-stimulated, always moving, and don’t have time to read articles and books in a full format. We like our listicles because that’s how we best take in information — just give us the bullet points and move on!

I just got out into the “real world” and started my “real job” and started cooking “real meals” in my “real kitchen” (or any combination of the above)! I don’t have time to actually read a book! *insert more adult words here*

Never fear! Paul Angone has taken your favorite BuzzFeed article format and used it as a way to deliver the tips you need to survive your twenties. And this means feeding them to you in easily-digestible and delicious bite-sized chunks.

While some topics may be as short as one page (like Secret 22: “The grass is always GREENER on the other side, until you get there and realize it’s because of all the MANURE”), where this book really shines is the breadth of topics it covers. From your work life to your romantic life to your social media presence to your friends, Paul covers all of it in his own quirky, relatable style, achieved through sharing little bits of his own life and personality throughout the book. Paul even shares his beliefs with his readers by giving the Secrets an underlying religious tone, while skillfully also managing keep the content accessible to everyone.

He discusses not only challenges that span across generations (like our doomed-to-fail search for “The One”, difficulties building and maintaining adult friendships, and starting your first lousy job), but also covers topics specific to the millennial generation (such as seeking validation through social media and lessons learned through playing “Oregon Trail”).

Yes, he really does talk about “Oregon Trail.” No, the moral of the story is not that you will eventually die from dysentery. At least I hope not.

While “101 Secrets for Your Twenties” may not be exactly like the self-help books of yore, Paul does give us one piece of advice that happens to be prevalent in most self-help books:

Your life is in your hands.

He discusses the dangers of becoming a backseat driver in your own life while also encouraging his audience to “be a writer of your life as opposed to an actor” and to take risks because “your twenties are a time to take risks” after all…

 

  1. Truly going after your dream can feel like rappelling into the Grand Canyon — enormous, overwhelming, breathtaking, and a very real feeling that you might fall to your DEATH.

 

Woah, that escalated quickly.

At the same time, he warns against assuming that your life will go any particular way. He doesn’t want you waiting around until you “feel like yourself again” or feeling disappointed when you believe that life “should feel” a certain way…and doesn’t. He wants angsty millennials to recognize that each person is different and that success does not look the same for everyone. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in what we think we should be doing as opposed to living our lives, we’ll never find happiness.

I found number 92 to be particularly inspiring.

 

  1. “When will I feel like myself again?” The answer — never.

 

In Paul’s ever-engaging dialogue, he talks here about how there is no “feeling like yourself” because yourself is always changing. People evolve, and in our fast-paced world, they evolve quickly. Sitting around and waiting for the you of yesterday to show back up in your life is a lost cause. Learn to be happy with all of the different yous and you’ll find happiness in every circumstance.

While some self-help books may leave you wanting to run through a wall and conquer the world, this one definitely imparts a different tone and message. When I put this book down, I wanted to call a friend and see if they were suffering from the same struggles that I was. I wanted to keep chugging away at my own small goals, even if my big goals are unclear. I wanted to enjoy my time on earth and really dive into the things I love. I felt…comfortable. Most importantly, I felt not so alone.

And just to prove that he practices what he preaches, Paul gives his readers the tools to help them cope with whatever adulting issues that they’re facing and feel not-so-alone. His site, allgroanup.com (beyond having a cool name), offers an understanding online community, relatable content, and even a way to connect with Paul himself. Because that’s just the kind of guy he is.

I definitely recommend this book to my struggling millennial friends, or really anyone who is looking to get back into reading. With the listicle-style format, this is a great starter book for anyone who has lost their reading hobby to their busy lives and finds full chapter books too daunting to pick up anymore.

I’m looking forward to reading his follow up book, “101 Questions You Need to Ask in Your Twenties.” I’m hoping that it involves the same wit and humor as this book did, while still delivering the short-but-sweet listicle content that I’ve come to know and love.

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