It seems that millennials much more than older generations have problems with “adulting.” It is as if this generation is more likely to move back in with their parents after graduating from college, more likely to work multiple part-time jobs, more likely to rely on parents for support (if they have such privilege), and more likely to put off starting a family. I recently finished reading Don’t Worry It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood by Alida Nugent, a millennial blogger who seems to have endured a serious struggle with the concept of “adulting.”
Why is it so hard for some millennials to just grow up? According to Nugent, one reason could be that millennial parents were all too happy to foster big dreams in their millennial children. In Nugent’s first essay titled “Once I was a baby,” she light-heartedly blames her parents for praising her small accomplishments, making her believe that she was special, and encouraging her to be whoever she wanted to be when she grew up. In this way, Nugent conceived big dreams for herself without an inkling that these dreams may not come to fruition. In this way, when Nugent graduated from college with a liberal arts degree and a bunch of student loans, she felt mildly betrayed when she was not offered her dream job and a quick way out of student debt. Nugent’s memoir is a work of humor and while she does not seriously blame her parents for ‘believing in her,’ she finds it funny that this loving style of parenting can inadvertently cause ‘damage’ to youth. Nugent even jokes that her parents should have instead encouraged her to have middle-of-the-road dreams like to become an accountant or strive for a middle-management position. With such expectations, life satisfaction would certainly be through the roof!
In her memoir, Nugent also discusses the confusing transition from college kid to full adult. In particular, she describes her exciting ‘milestone’ about throwing a “grown-up” house party with only 10 guests, fully equipped with fancy hors-d’oeuvres. She also laments her rude awakening to the feeling of desperately needing a job for the first time in her life. Additionally, Nugent discusses misadventures that many 20-somethings face like living with roommates in a mouse-invested apartment and online dating.
While I found this book to be funny (not laugh-out-loud funny, but a joke on every page funny), I did not particularly like this book. I feel that, perhaps, I am slightly too old for this book, even though I am a few years younger than Nugent herself. I feel that the best audience for this book would be current college students (if they even have time to read) or recent graduates. Also, certain sections of this book did not appeal to me. For example, one chapter is written like a ‘screen play’ where the author narrates a realistic, yet fictional, night out. Another chapter I was not a fan of was her fake graduation speech as a means of imparting humorous words of wisdom. These two tactics were also used in one of Mindy Kaling’s books (the second I think?), which I also found to be less interesting.
In conclusion, Don’t Worry It Gets Worse is not a memoir about growth rather about acceptance. Acceptance that you are not as rich as you would like to be, beautiful as you would like to be, and simply that life did not turn out the way that you planned. Nugent is the same confused and disappointed woman at the end of the book that we meet at the beginning of the book. Other than an amusing story, Don’t Worry It Gets Worse is permission to be happy just where you are even if you do not think it is where you should be. If you’re a millennial or Gen Z-er seeking some literary validation, check it out!