Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Review: Don't Worry, It Gets Worse by Alida Nugent

Don't Worry, It Gets Worse by Alida Nugent
Publisher: Plume
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Page Count: 188
Genre: Non-Fiction / Memoir
Goodreads & Amazon

When Alida Nugent, blogger of The Frenemy, graduated from college with a degree in writing, she had a pretty good idea of where her life was heading: sophisticated adulthood with money to spend on real things. Her picture certainly didn't include struggling to pay her bills, moving back in with her parents, and scrapping together the money for her student lines. But c'est la vie, right? With the type of wit and humor that only a twenty-something can deliver, Nugent takes us on a ride with her throughout the years following her graduation. From her return to working a retail job, to struggling with the idea of friends actually getting married, she covers it all and offers her advice to us along the way.
Nobody wants to say, "I'm trying to get my feet on the ground" in their twenties. They want you to think they're about to do something dangerous, or exciting, or different.
I can honestly say that these eight months since my college graduation have been some of the most 'telling' months of my life. Or the most struggle filled. Whichever. I never felt the truth of the 'struggling college student' cliche while I was actually in school, but now that I'm done, I'm wondering why they don't focus more on calling it the 'struggling post-grad' life. As much as I love my retail job, I was confident that I would have a career by now, and I was expecting to at least have, like, one designer purse, and unlimited funds to go to all of the concerts and bars I wanted, and have nail polish that wasn't chipped beyond comprehension.  But that's obviously currently not my position in life, and that's okay, because most twenty-two year olds aren't at that point in life. Which is exactly why when I heard of Don't Worry, It Gets Worse a couple of months ago, I knew I had to read it. More than once, I found myself nodding along to this book, not unlike this America's Next Top Model contestant:
Nugent shares her experiences in a way that made me laugh out loud and want to be best friends with her. She calls herself out, but also calls us as readers out as well. She shows us her dating woes, and her weariness of using the internet as a place to meet men. She tells us about her Craigslist apartment search, and the sacrifices you have to make to live in the painfully expensive city you love (i.e.: cockroaches, drippy faucets, and an apartment that somehow always looks dirty.) Uh, too relatable. I especially loved the final chapter, a love letter to New York City, where she acknowledges its shortcomings and what sucks about it, but also how that just makes her love it even more. Living in a big city at this point in life is magical, but it can also cut you down and humble you, and the final chapter perfectly sums this up. She shares what seems like jealousy of people who seem to have it all together, who are actually finding jobs in the career, and finding the love of their life in romantic ways, and getting married.
A few years ago, I graduated college, diploma in one hand, margarita in the other, completely oblivious to the shit storm that was coming my way. Here's a preview: becoming a living, breathing, job-having, bill-paying, responsible adult? Really fucking difficult. I know every old person you ever meet says it's so easy to be in your twenties now, what with our lack of world wars and easy access to Jamba Juice and our constant stream of devilish rock music. But I beg to differ. For some people, being in your twenties is a time of exploration and sex and going on millions of dates and having your parents pay for shit. I don't see it that way. For me, it's a time of rolling around and watching my life moments get devoured whole by the Internet, all while hoping I eventually figure out both my future and how to make my hair look nice. It's hard, but not in a way that you feel like you have any right to complain about it, which makes it even harder. 
I liked reading Don't Worry, It Gets Worse for one of the same reasons I love to watch HBO's Girls: it doesn't make me feel any more optimistic about navigating this weird, post-college, pre-career world of my early twenties, but it does make me feel like I'm not alone, and that maybe there is a light at the end of this seemingly endless tunnel (that sounds a lot more bleak than I wanted it to, oops.) Besides dating woes, apartment search troubles, and the embarrassment of moving back in with her parents, Nugent gives valid advice on diving into the world of freelance writing, which I appreciated, and the chapter 'It's Your Day, Now Let Me Talk' is the speech she would give if she were ever allowed to address a graduating class. It was motivating, funny, and again I was struck with those, "eeeee, too relatable' types of feelings.  Like with lots of essay and story collections, there were some duds in the bunch, like the rambling, script-styled 'Thoughts on Being Dragged to a Bar by Your Friends Who Are Concerned for Your Well-Being' that seemed to have no significance and made me wonder what it was doing here.
And that feeling? That's the emotion I want you to hold onto--that surge of hope and promise and newness and excitement for everything the future holds for you.
That is because a couple of months from now, you will feel frustrated. You will receive your first loan check in the mail, and wonder why you need to pay for something that you no longer receive. You will have trouble finding a job, and will become jealous of others when they land one. You will not be able to afford the clothes you want or the amount of drinks you want or the vacation you think you are owed. Perhaps, most depressingly, you will start eating more ramen noodles than you ever did in college. And this is when you need hope for the future. This is when you will need to test your character much more than you did inside these four walls, when you need to buckle up and hold onto hope more than ever before. Your life will feel scary and gross and uncertain, like you will never have a safety net again.
If you are in the murky waters of your twenties, this is a book that you should absolutely read. It will make you want to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and tackle life and start actually trying for the life you imagined for yourself. Alida Nugent hilariously captures this time of our lives, exposes her shortcomings, but has an optimistic look of where she's going and where she wants to be. She's a lot less jaded than I am, and made me feel like there are actually places I can go. Read more of her adventures and advice on her blog The Frenemy.

2 comments:

  1. I wish there had been a book like this when I was in my 20s. It is nice to hear that you are not alone when that is how you feel.

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