New York Times bestselling author Julie Lythcott-Haims is back with a groundbreakingly frank guide to being a grown-up
What does it mean to be an adult? In the twentieth century, psychologists came up with five markers of adulthood: finish your education, get a job, leave home, marry, and have children. Since then, every generation has been held to those same markers. Yet so much has changed about the world and living in it since that sequence was formulated. All of those markers are choices, and they’re all valid, but any one person’s choices along those lines do not make them more or less an adult.
A former Stanford dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising and author of the perennial bestseller How to Raise an Adult and of the lauded memoir Real American, Julie Lythcott-Haims has encountered hundreds of twentysomethings (and thirtysomethings, too), who, faced with those markers, feel they’re just playing the part of “adult,” while struggling with anxiety, stress, and general unease. In Your Turn, Julie offers compassion, personal experience, and practical strategies for living a more authentic adulthood, as well as inspiration through interviews with dozens of voices from the rich diversity of the human population who have successfully launched their adult lives.
Being an adult, it turns out, is not about any particular checklist; it is, instead, a process, one you can get progressively better at over time—becoming more comfortable with uncertainty and gaining the knowhow to keep going. Once you begin to practice it, being an adult becomes the most complicated yet also the most abundantly rewarding and natural thing. And Julie Lythcott-Haims is here to help readers take their turn.
Lythcott-Haims, former dean of undergraduate advising at Stanford, follows up her 2016 How to Raise an Adult with this valuable guide to "adulting." The author puts aside traditional markers of adulthood education, employment, moving out, marriage, and children in favor of a vision of becoming an adult as a "delicious" process of "wanting to, having to, and learning how" to fend for oneself, discover one's passions, and find one's chosen family. Refreshingly, Lythcott-Haims avoids talking down to readers and instead connects through vulnerability particularly an illuminating anecdote about the author clashing with Stanford administrators, accepting criticism with maturity, and being rewarded with a large promotion for her candor in discussions. Narratives from successful people in the author's extended network form the lion's share of the text including journalist Irshad Manji, a queer Muslim woman who shows how "moral courage" is the key to "being good at having tough conversations," and a film agent who focused on community theater to revitalize a passion for his career along with accounts from students she has counseled, family friends, and colleagues. Lythcott-Haims also shares sound workplace advice (prepare, play well with others, join the ecosystem, and find a mentor) and 16 principles of good character, among them "embrace that your purpose in life is to learn and grow." Those overwhelmed by the demands of adulthood would do well to check this out.