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Talking Twentysomethings with Paul Angone

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Paul Angone is an author, speaker, storyteller, humorist, and the creator of – a place for those asking “What now?” His article “21 Secrets for your 20s,” on which this book is based, has been read by nearly a million people in 190 countries.

Summer may be almost over but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still time to add one more book to your reading list. 101 Secrets for your Twenties is a funny, insightful guide to successfully navigating this all-important decade. I caught up with author Paul Angone to talk about being lost, adjusting expectations, and the awkwardness of dating.

Q: First of all, this book is spot on to what we all seem to struggle with during our twenties. How did you go about forming your list of 101 Secrets?

A: 101 Secrets for your Twenties was birthed out of a decade filled with … a plethora of crappy jobs, bad breakups, stints where I could find no job whatsoever, and ample amounts of when is my life going to feel like it’s supposed to? I’ve now spent the last eight years writing, researching, and taking notes on this collective twentysomething struggle, which resulted in my website and then led to this book.

Q: You pepper 101 Secrets with stories of your own accomplishments (and failures) from your twenties. What do you wish you had known then that you know now?

A:  I wish I had known that it’s normal to feel like you’re six-years-old again, lost at the zoo, searching for a familiar face to tell you how to get home. That you’re not alone in your loneliness. That millions of twentysomethings have questions and doubts gnawing at them as well like a rat on a corncob. That the biggest failure of my twenties would be never having any.

I wish someone would have told me about Secret #99 in my book – “being successful in your twenties is more about setting the table than enjoying the feast.” Then maybe I could’ve been more astute at finding purpose and peace in the process. Instead of feeling like I was daily being processed in the process.

Or about Secret #18: "A Date is a date is a date..." So you're saying we tend to expect too much from a date? If we play the law of averages here, the majority of the dates you go on are going to lead to more fizzle than sizzle. There will be no birds chirping whilst they lay napkins across your laps or that moment when your eyes meet and you just know you’ve found The One. Nope. Just a mediocre meal or cup of coffee, followed by an unrelenting thought of “can I go home yet?”

Dating is supposed to be awkward. It’s not a formula, and the more pressure we put on it to turn out like “it’s supposed to,” the more it will turn out just the opposite.

The real key to dating is that with every date you learn more about yourself and what you want in a relationship. You’re honing and refining your “dating beacon” so that when you do come across that diamond in the rough, your alarm will be sounding for the right reasons.

Q: The book focuses also on managing expectations. Would you say many people have too high expectations for their 20s or just not the right expectations?

A: Recent studies by Pew and Gallup show that even with this terribly depressing Great Recession, our generation is still very optimistic about our future. Our expectations of a successful life are still holding strong even as the world around us seems to be shouting otherwise.

I don’t think our expectations need to be tempered as much as our timeline does. We will be successful, it just might look a little different than we thought, and take one, two, or twenty years longer than we planned.

Our optimistic expectations, however, serve as a powerful motivator to keep us moving forward, even if the day-to-day looks bleak.

Listen to Paul Angone discuss more about twentysomething challenges with Verily editors on “Getting Real with Verily Magazine” at SiriusXM Stars Channel. Subscription required.