All Things Adulting
So, what is adulting? The Oxford dictionary definition says:
“The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.”
It seems as though when one enters the realms of their mid twenties they are filled with an overwhelming sense of adulthood. This can bring about feelings of anxiety, panic and a huge amount of pressure. Should I now have a mortgage? Should I be married with children? Why have I never held my own dinner party?! Well, fear not, you aren’t the only person who worries about this. In fact, award-winning journalist and Grazia agony aunt Daisy Buchanan even wrote a whole book on this subject.
In How To Be A Grown-Up, Daisy shares an array of witty anecdotes, little life hacks and ‘How To’ guides which help to make adulting just that little bit easier.
Here’s what Daisy had to say in our interview:
So Daisy, when and why did you decide to write the book?
DB: The idea popped into my head when my 30th birthday was looming – originally I was thinking about writing a book called How To Be 30. Rationally, in my ‘head brain’ I knew that forcing yourself to achieve deadlines and goals because you’re approaching an age with a zero on the end is nonsense. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about the way that being a 30 year old or a 30 something right now seems very different from the way it felt in the past. My parents’ lives were so different from mine, and I think that most of us grew up assuming we would have what they did at 30 – marriage (or a long term partner), a house, children, a ‘proper’ job. Instead, we have internships and overdrafts. Also, I found the middle of my twenties painful, stressful, anxiety filled and exhausting. As I got closer to 30, everything felt a bit better, partly because my perspective had shifted, and I’d worked out a way of managing my own expectations. I believed that there were other people out there who felt as sad and stressed as I was. I wanted to write a book that was comforting and reassuring. I wanted those people to know they weren’t alone, that it’s OK to feel stuck sometimes, and that life does get better. Also, I wanted to explore the idea of what adulthood is, and to consider how strange it is that we are all legal adults when we’re 18, and yet being a grown up is a lifetime’s work!
Did you have any anxiety into how the book would be received?
DB: Oh my goodness, YES, and I still do. The proofs for my next book, The Sisterhood, are being sent out at the moment and I feel quite sick every time I think of people actually reading it. Even though I know it’s ridiculous, I know my worst Amazon reviews off by heart. Ultimately, I’m taking some of my most vulnerable, painful experiences and trying to weave them into pieces of funny, useful life advice, but I don’t have any control over how that’s received. More importantly, I’m just a writer. I don’t have any real authority. The book is full of experience and opinion, I don’t know how to be a grown up! I didn’t realise that some readers would take the title as literally as they did! That said, I have had some truly lovely, kind, generous responses to it (including yours) and when people take the time to tell me they liked it, I’m so touched that I get slightly weepy. I still can’t quite believe that it’s out there in bookshops, and that people are actually buying it!
What’s the best piece of advice you can give to those who are struggling to get a career after university?
DB: Er, don’t panic? I would say this – I don’t know anyone who didn’t struggle after graduating. I think the year after you leave university can be one of the hardest and scariest times of your life. This is partly because you grow up being told that every single thing you do is supposed to help you to achieve the ultimate end goal of getting a degree, and then you’re free! It’s terrifying!
Don’t worry if you don’t like your job, because learning what you don’t like at work is useful and it will eventually lead you to better things. I have never worked out how to do this but try not to give your emotional all to your work. Your bosses aren’t your teachers or your family, and they might not be interested in helping you to shine. Like you, they just want to get paid and go home early on Friday. Working long, long hours probably won’t get you a promotion, it just shows that you’re a useful source of cheap labour! Perhaps most importantly, I believe that your greatest ambition should be for your own happiness. For a long time I thought that it was really important to be “successful” on other people’s terms. But I think success is about learning to be secure in yourself. Your job, and other people’s opinion of your job, absolutely does not define your worth. It is far, far better to be a happy bartender than a miserable CEO.
What did you want the readers to come away with from reading the book?
DB: I wanted to write the book version of a hug in a mug. This book is for everyone who has ever been tempted to Google ‘HELP!!!!!’ or everyone who has ever woken up at 4AM worrying about the state of their bank account, the state of their flat and the meaning of life. I love self help books but they can be quite bossy – ‘you must change your life by getting up at dawn and drinking an egg cup full of vinegar, while practising gratitude and holding a crystal that costs £600!’ If people take one thing away from How To Be A Grown Up I would like it to be this: You’re lovely, you’re doing your best and that’s absolutely good enough.