How to Be a Grown Up
"I remember, as a kid, wanting so badly to be a 'grown up.' I
couldn't wait till I was an adult, because once I was, I was
convinced, I'd be free. I would buy myself any toy I liked on the
spot. No one could tell me what to eat, so I could stuff myself with
junk food. I would decide which tv shows were 'appropriate' for me to
watch. I would do my homework if and when I felt like it, and no one
would ever make me clean up my room. Bottom line: I'd do what I
liked, and I would be happy.
So, here I am, and so are you. We've arrived; we are officially
adults. Chronological adults who are free to live our lives any way we
want to. Right? Well sort of..."
Stacey Kaiser, author of How to Be a Grown Up: The Ten Secret
Skills Everyone Needs to Know discovered it isn't all that easy in
today's world. She also discovered that lots of people are mired in
lives that don't feel right or satisfying but are no more able to make
the changes that would make them happier than they were in their "As
long as you're under my roof, you'll play by my rules." days. So she
decided to help them achieve a more empowering skill set. That's what
the book is about.
The ten areas explore the skills needed to be "fully loaded
grown up". They make a lot of sense: communication, dealing with
circumstances beyond your control, friendships, romance, image,
financial responsibility, work, addiction, time management, and
flexibility. What makes this book one of the better ones on the
topic, however, is that Kaiser, a licensed psychotherapist, realizes
that people must take into account her readers are not tabala rasas.
Baggage, voices in our head, and other complexities color our feelings
and actions in any of the arenas. The first step has to be an
awareness of them and an exorcising of harmful ones.
Let's look at work. My earliest experiences were
entrepreneurial in nature: selling night crawlers, collecting
returnable bottles, running errands, odd jobs, animal and eventually
child sitting. Thanks to my dad, I was also a successful card shark.
A one night take of $75.00, for example, neatly supplemented my 35
cent a week allowance. As an adult my biggest work decision, made as
rationally as possible after 16 hours of labor and an emergency C
section and while under the influence of morphine, was to be a stay at
home mom. The transition back to the work world turned out to be
quite complex due to what I want out of work: meaning, purpose, and
community. I was determined not to settle for retail Hell, the
default option many women take after decades of child raising.
Volunteering gave me the knowledge that working with college students
is what makes my heart sing. So I am applying for the masters program
that will enable me to do that. At the same time I am seeking a part
time day job that will let me earn some money until I get with the
Other steps involve building on and moving beyond this
awareness. There's a lot of good, solid advice. If you're an adult
who has areas of life dissatisfaction or an older teen eager to get to
the next life phase, How to Be a Grown Up can be a very profitable read.
On a personal note, yesterday I took a big step by interviewing for a
cashier job at Hannaford. I am a big fan of their corporate ethics so
I didn't feel like a hypocrite applying there. I think it went well.
We'll have to see.
Interviews don't scare me. That's a gift from my school committee
during crisis times days. After facing packed auditoriums of scared,
angry people with often the rudest waiting for the mic, one person who
hasn't already judged me as scum of the earth (and won't slander me on
the Internet the next day) can't help seeming relatively benign.
A great big shout out goes out to Hannaford and other companies for
whom corporate ethics are fundamental, rather than calculated window
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