In your 20s, you might consider yourself a capable adult, but even the most organized and responsible people can find themselves over their heads at this point in their lives. This time presents many new opportunities and challenges, and many people make big life mistakes in their 20s. “Adulthood for Beginners” can get you through the hard parts of early adulthood. From choosing a romantic partner to crafting a killer résumé, this summary offers advice to start you off on the right foot.
Discover how to win at “adulting” with practical tips and laid-back advice from a real grown-up.
READ THIS BOOK SUMMARY IF YOU:
- Are trying to navigate all the new challenges of life in your 20s
- Want early career advice to help you stand out and get ahead
- Are struggling to balance friendships and romantic relationships
Table of Contents
If you’re looking to avoid some of the common pitfalls of early adulthood (and laugh a lot while doing it), this book is for you. Writer, comedian, and web developer Andy Boyle shares some of the most memorable mistakes and lessons from his 20s with plenty of humor, a little bit of wisdom, and tons of practical tips for making life easier. You’ll learn how to navigate health, dating, your career, and more — all while avoiding looking like, as Boyle says, a dumbass.
Above all, this book was written to help you overcome the fear of the mistakes and failures you’re inevitably going to experience in early adulthood. After all, it’s totally normal to have setbacks. With the benefit of Boyle’s advice, you’ll move through your first decade out on your own without feeling like you’re treading water.
As you begin this book, here are a few key ideas to keep in mind:
- No matter what happened in your past, you can always improve your future.
- Remember that everyone makes mistakes and can use some compassion.
- At no point should you think you have the right to tell someone how they should look.
- Your opinions don’t matter more than anyone else’s.
- Treat people better than you expect to be treated.
With this advice in mind, you’re already ahead of the game. Let’s get started!
The first step to having a head start in early adulthood is to get comfortable with who you are inside. Maybe you’ve noticed some self-destructive habits starting to take hold, like getting into debt, overeating, or drinking too much. If so, now’s the time to start looking inward and finding ways to take better care of yourself. Start now while you’ve got plenty of time to fix things that aren’t working out.
Boyle started thinking about what he might want to change in his late 20s and realized that drinking was holding him back in life. Sure, alcohol eased social situations, but he came to depend on it. And the more he drank, the less he liked himself, which led to other self-destructive behaviors. Finally, he decided to make a change and gave up drinking for two years. Once he did, he experienced lifechanging results: He lost 75 pounds, started publishing articles, and bought a condo. What he learned was that even one positive life change can be a catalyst for many other beneficial outcomes. When you see yourself being successful at changing one bad habit, you gain the confidence to make changes with other behaviors as well.
Although it might sound hokey, one of the best early habits to set you on a lifelong course of well-being is loving yourself. Think about all the ways modern media and advertising make you feel bad about yourself just to sell you things. It can take some effort to challenge all those messages. Here’s how to start:
- Daily “I am awesomes”: Look in the mirror and say something nice to yourself every day. It feels weird at first, but eventually you’ll start to feel fantastic.
- No more negating yourself: Stop saying mean things to yourself. It doesn’t do any good to beat yourself up or call yourself names.
- Accept who you are: It’s time to accept the fact that there are some things about yourself you can’t change, and these qualities are what make you unique.
- Know that everyone makes mistakes: Don’t waste time beating yourself up over things you’ve done wrong. Apologize, learn, and move forward.
- It takes time: Learning to love yourself won’t happen overnight. You must keep practicing being kind to yourself. In time it will become easier.
As you get better at feeling comfortable with yourself, you’ll notice that you don’t need to depend on others to make you feel good. When you take care of yourself, you’re a better friend to all who know you.
You might have already noticed this, but your friendships can change a lot in your 20s. You might still be in touch with people you were close to in high school and college, but with new work commitments, those relationships usually start to change. It’s important to know that even great friendships can run their course. Maybe you feel that old friends pull you back into bad habits, or maybe you just don’t have much in common anymore. It’s normal to let some old friendships fade as life pulls you in new directions.
If you need help making new friends, here are a few suggestions:
- Get to know people at work.
- Join clubs.
- Take a class.
- Talk to strangers at bars.
- Try meetup.com.
In general, be pleasant, make conversation, and be open to introducing yourself to strangers. It might feel uncomfortable to put yourself out there, but you’ll be glad you made the effort when you make awesome new friends.
No matter what stage of life you’re in, dating is beset with awkward starts, stops, and near misses. Here’s how to navigate making connections with people you’re interested in — and dodging people you’re not.
First, a note on exes: Your ex is your ex for a reason. Don’t text them in the wee hours of the morning or respond to their texts at all hours. Don’t get angry and write something mean to them. Don’t call and leave pathetic messages. Accept that it’s over and fight the urge to go back to them. Before long, it will get easier to move forward.
When you’re ready to ask someone out, keep it classy. Give a time and a plan. For example, say, “Are you free Thursday after work to grab a bite to eat at Pizza Slice?” or “Let’s go on a date next Tuesday and get some tacos.” By being specific about your plans and calling it a date, you’re making your intentions clear and giving the other person the chance to respond honestly.
If you’re on a date and it isn’t going as you hoped, it’s OK to end it. Don’t give a lame excuse just to spare someone’s feelings. They can probably tell you’re not being honest, and this will only make them feel worse. It’s better to address the situation head-on with a simple statement: “Hey, I’m not feeling this.” It might be awkward in the moment, but in the long run, you’ll never regret being genuine and saving them from the confusion of mixed messages.
In addition, here are a few rules for respectful dating in the digital age:
- Don’t sext someone who hasn’t agreed to it.
- Don’t forward or post anything that’s shared with you privately.
- Never share anything to shame someone else.
- No one owes you photos, ever.
- You don’t owe anyone photos, ever.
- Sending sexy photos doesn’t make you a bad person.
- If the relationship ends, delete the photos.
One of the biggest questions of early adulthood is trying to figure out what you’re going to do with your life. It’s a lot of pressure, so let’s break it down.
When you’re considering what to do with your time and talents, you might be tempted to follow your passions. Unfortunately, while passions make life rewarding, turning them into something that pays can be pretty difficult. Instead, Boyle recommends cultivating your interests on the weekends; during the week, work at a decent job that funds those passions. Paying rent, saving for retirement, and managing your bills are realities you can’t escape, no matter how talented you are. When you earn enough to take of yourself properly, you’ll enjoy your passions even more.
With this in mind, concentrate on getting a job that has the following: a full-time schedule, salaried pay, health insurance, vacation time, and a retirement plan. Having these benefits in place allows you to enjoy your free time to the fullest and sets you up for a more secure future.
To score that type of job, you’ll need a résumé that works. It shouldn’t exceed one page. Concise communication is an important skill, so when detailing your work history, include only previous employment that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. It’s OK to list other kinds of success that apply to a specific job, like sales statistics, publications, or awards. Also, make sure you include three references who will speak highly of you and your abilities. And never send a résumé without having at least three pairs of eyes proofread it first. There’s nothing worse than an embarrassing typo!
Once you’ve gotten an offer, always negotiate. In fact, most hiring managers expect this from you, and it shows that you’re a confident, assertive employee. You never know if you can get more money or other perks, like more vacation time, unless you ask.
The advice in this section is pretty simple: To feel good, eat less crap and move more. That’s really all you need to know. Most diets are temporary, but a comprehensive evaluation of your relationships with food and exercise can lead to major results. Are you consuming enough whole, nutritious foods? Are you taking vitamins? Are you keeping your body strong with stretching, strength training, and cardio?
Even if you begin by just moving more and finding opportunities to walk or stand, your body will burn more calories than if you sit all day. Choose exercises that you enjoy, so you’ll stick with them, and push yourself to do just a little more than you were doing the day before. Your future (healthier!) self will thank you.
If you’re looking to lose weight, keep in mind that slow weight change is good for you. The more slowly you lose weight, the more likely you’ll keep it off and stay at your new weight. Aim for no more than 2 pounds of weight loss per week. After all, smaller goals add up and get you to your larger goals.
In addition to eating nutritiously and exercising regularly, you should maintain a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, both of which are essential for excellent mental and physical health. Go to bed early enough that you don’t need an alarm clock in the morning — this is a good indicator that you’re getting enough rest. To get the best sleep possible, don’t use screens at bedtime, since they emit a blue light that prevents deep sleep. Nothing prepares you for living your most awesome life every day like being well rested and refreshed.
In this summary, you’ve learned a lot of practical tools for improving life in your 20s. Whether you’re pursuing inner awesomeness, social awesomeness, or work awesomeness, remember this: Failing isn’t failure. You’ll make mistakes along the way, and that’s OK. Often, it takes a blunder to learn a lesson you wouldn’t have learned otherwise. A lot of your attempts at a successful career or a relationship might feel like rough drafts, but that’s part of living a rich life full of growth and experimentation. Failing is how you make something better the next time.
As you experience life’s setbacks and successes, you’ll figure out for yourself what people have been telling you for years: Life isn’t fair. Sometimes, you’ll be unfairly rejected, or you’ll see less deserving people get ahead. Other times, it will hit you that you’re the one getting a lucky break this time. Above all, remember to focus on the only things you can control: yourself and your actions. Work hard, stay positive, and be generous to others.
About Andy Boyle
Andy Boyle is a writer, speaker, and web developer. He’s currently director of platform architecture for Axios. He lives in Chicago.
The book is a humorous and helpful guide for young adults who are navigating the challenges and opportunities of adulthood in the modern age. The author, Andy Boyle, is a comedian and writer who shares his own experiences and lessons learned from his twenties and beyond. He covers various topics, such as:
- How to avoid being an asshole and how to deal with assholes.
- How to stop using annoying words like “adulting” and “friend zone”.
- How to handle breakups, dating, and relationships.
- How to network like a not gross person and find a fulfilling career.
- How to cope with failure, stress, and anxiety.
- How to be creative, curious, and courageous.
- How to live a healthy, happy, and meaningful life.
The book is divided into four parts: The Basics, The Hard Stuff, The Fun Stuff, and The Big Stuff. Each part contains several chapters that offer practical advice, personal stories, and funny anecdotes. The book also includes exercises, quizzes, and illustrations to help readers apply the concepts to their own situations.
I found the book to be very entertaining and enlightening. The author has a witty and relatable voice that makes the book easy and fun to read. He also provides useful tips and examples that are relevant and realistic. I learned a lot about how to be a better person and how to enjoy life more.
I think the book is suitable and timely for anyone who is in their twenties or thirties, or anyone who feels like they need some guidance on how to be an adult. It helps us understand the common struggles and opportunities that we face in this stage of life, and how we can overcome them with humor and wisdom. It also reminds us of the importance of being ourselves, being kind, and being adventurous.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about adulthood and how to make the most of it. It is a well-written, well-researched, and well-presented book that will make you laugh, think, and grow.