Book Review: Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown

I remember the time when I graduated a year and half ago and was extremely depressed about leaving school and coming back home. All of a sudden the world was expecting me to start acting as all grown up, find a job (as if they are offered on a platter) and get settled somewhere, anywhere where they pay excellent salaries, you have a healthy work-life balance and you could somehow manage to meet your friends and family (read all the relatives) on a regular basis. That was certainly too much to ask since I had not even gotten over my graduation and the post-graduation-trip-with-friends nostalgia. I lot of my friends and class fellows were going through the same feelings around that time.

It was during that time that I found the book ‘Adulting: How to become a grown-up in 468 easy(ish) steps’ by Kelly Williams Brown and started reading it. Needless to say, this book is one of the funniest and engaging self-help books I’ve ever read. This book was also nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2013 in the category of Best Humor.

Adulting is Kelly Williams Brown’s debut book and the idea of writing such book came to her after going through the period of Adulting (Adulting describes acting like an adult or engaging in activities usually associated with adulthood—often responsible or boring tasks)–when she started learning the art of acting like an adult through trial and error method.

Even though this book is relatively more suitable for Western kids graduating from colleges, who have to move out of their parents’ house to make everything on their own, I believe it is helpful for our kids as well, as there is has been a growing trend of moving out of parents’ houses (especially for kids from smaller towns to bigger metropolitan cities) in search of better jobs and careers.

Starting from the time one has graduated, and is depressed of leaving school and best friends behind to moving out and finding a place to live on reasonable rates, to learning to cook and clean your part of the house, the book describes in detail, every minor step of these adulting milestones. From tips to effectively packing your stuff and suitcases, to teaching easy recipes to cook, to domestic tips on how to clean your kitchen and bathroom, everything is elaborately discussed with witty monologues and funny diagrams from the author which keep the one-way dialogue interesting. There are even dramatic discussion questions at the end of every chapter which keep the reader engaged.

The chapters progress further to discuss faking etiquettes— the author believes that until you can’t fake it, you can’t make it—to getting in the line for one of the most difficult jobs in the world: getting a job. This chapter provides steps to networking with people (friends, friends of friends, friends of parents, parents of friends, etc.), scheduling your interviews and how not to screw your schedules of interviews to finally negotiating your salary and signing your job offer. There are further steps on how to dress and how to socialize with your coworkers.

Money is another important concern for newly-turned-adults. From politely refusing your work colleagues from hanging out, to splitting your dinner bills and managing to shop cheap but trendy clothes and accessories, Kelly offers easy and doable solutions to saving money and managing one’s budget.

Chapters following money include tips on making new friends at work and neighborhood—who might not be your age, but one of the best things about becoming an adult is that the age range of your friends starts to expand and you begin to enjoy the company of relatively older people—handling emergency situations and most important of all, managing to take out time for your family.

With a growing trend towards moving out of parents’ houses in search of better jobs, readers would certainly find this book helpful and entertaining (and even if it doesn’t help you much, it would make you feel better that you’re not the only one struggling).

One of the drawbacks of the book that I came across while reading was the fact that since it has been written from the perspective of a woman (Kelly Williams herself), it is more catered to the needs of women (or girls as you might want to put it)—especially in fashion trends, clothes choice, etc.

Nevertheless, ‘Adulting: How to Become a Grown up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps’ is a fun read and would get you out of your stressed state if you’re just out of college.

Average rating: 3.5/5

How you might want to spend your four years at college

My four years at college are about to end. There are so many things I did, and many things that I should’ve done and so many of them, I’d still want to do while some time still remains. So here’s how you can make the best of four years of your college.

So while you go to college to study, remember to live your life while you study. Go crazy, do experiments, break rules, make friends and take a 360 degree turn, trust me, you’ll love the feeling of it.

And live in dorm, or hostel, whatever you call it. Life would be tougher that way, but interesting. So next time, when you eat from mess, you’ll know how mom’s cooking feels when you get back home. Sharing a roommate would tell you the reality of life (trust me on this, realities would unveil). Sharing is not easy, but you would get used to it for the life later. So decorate your room for the 4 good years, make collages, take pictures, celebrate mid-night birthdays, throw some parties and crash some weddings, order at mid-night, try to cook new stuff and DO NOT worry.

Go and break some rules. Surpass curfew timings, write petitions against what your conscience does not agree to, disagree and discuss, disagree and persuade, disagree and convince. Protest against the wrongs and break the rules again if you have to make things right. But don’t get caught!


And don’t worry if you’re alone when you initiate, trust me, the word spreads like fire here and people would join you. Make a good move: even if people don’t recognize it today, at least you have a good story to narrate it to your kids.

While you’re at it, expand your humanitarian side. Appreciate art. Listen to all genres of music, watch theatres  visit museums and art galleries and most of all, read books. Save one fifth of your pocket money for books, visit book stores, join book clubs, read about books and discuss books with people. Don’t leave your room without carrying a book in your bag, for what books tell you, even your best friend hides sometimes.

Develop a literate personality. Read on religion, art, science and politics. Participate in discussions and debates; attend seminars and conferences, for they are a treasure of college life. And don’t forget to disagree -It reflects that you have a point of view that you fear to share.

And yes, be adventurous! Make spontaneous plans. Call friends and let them know about your program. It doesn’t matter where you want to go, if you’re passionate, the road will take you there somehow.

So wander off. Pack a bag, take a camera and follow the light. Use all modes of transportation: ride a cycle, take a rickshaw, travel in bus and experience a Ching Chi. Explore places that were lost in time and tell the world about it. This habit of travelling would never let you lose yourself even if people think you’re lost.

But don’t fear, for fear takes away the thrill. So ride on the most dangerous rides you ever felt have been invented, lie in the middle of the road at night, bathe in the 3 am rain of a January night, climb on the roof of a stair-less building, spend your summer break in the hottest of lands and winter in the coldest of valleys. You’d know the beauty of life, the splendour of nature, and who knows you might even find God!

And about those college events, participate and play an active role. Not for the sake of those I-am-in-every-event-just-so-you-know photos but to put something worthwhile in your resume. Be a Manager, Director or whatsoever they offer, but make sure no one is taking any advantage out of your work. And don’t forget to resign publicly when they do. They should know who they’re messing with!

Be a fun-sport. Go to social events, enjoy parties, socialize, have a crush or two (or many) and have the time of your life. Play sports. Join basketball team or football, hockey or cricket team, but keep playing. It’ll keep you in the mood of spirit. Go for long walks early in the morning or late at night. Manage a company of a friend if you can sometimes, because that would give you an entirely different perspective of what you usually experience alone. And Oh, don’t forget to play foosball. It’s a great game, takes all your miseries away- a bad paper, a missed class, an absent mark, a missed chance or maybe a broken heart, foosball is the solution.

For the purpose of coming here, take challenging courses and witty teachers, go to library and come back at 12 am. Take notes, talk to teachers and don’t forget to group-study. It’s miraculous. Not only in terms of learning, but trust me, it does wonders. The discussions that follow the group studies never get old to catch up to. Be a nerd during exams. You wouldn’t want to care what clothes you’re wearing during your exams because nobody does. I’ve seen people who forget to wash their face and brush their teeth, or maybe they don’t get time for it because they were doing some early morning rote learning. As long as you get a decent grade, that’s all what matters.

And while we’re talking about studies, beware of the mother of all diseases: Procrastination. Not being obstinate about it, but everyone does: an assignment submission, a report deadline, case compliance or daily readings, I know you would procrastinate. So keep yourself ready for pulling out some nighters. Stock on some caffeine; get your tools ready to stay awake all night during the last part of the semester and meet your deadlines.

And well, get decent grades because it sucks to have a bad GPA. You might say that it doesn’t bother you or you’ll get a job nevertheless, but dude, it shows on your resume for the rest of your life. So while you enjoy the best four years of life, never get the three letters out of your mind. But wait, don’t panic! Also, please don’t drop. (My heart dies a little every time I hear someone drop out of college).


(March 18, 2013)