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Mastering Your 20s

by University Relations

Was it Mark Twain or Erma Bombeck who said, “Staying in a bad relationship is like letting your heart lie in the sun too long and then being surprised when it burns”? Neither one, in fact. The insightful warning is actually just one of more than 100 affirming, poignant, and humorous “secrets” for twenty-somethings caught in that ambiguous time-warp between “grow-ing and grown-up,” written by Paul Angone, M.A. ’11, in his recently published debut book, 101 Secrets for Your Twenties.

“My own transition from college into work-life threw me. I went from cubicle to cubicle job to getting laid off to joining the many, the humbled, the unemployed. I found myself asking, ‘What now?’” said Angone, who runs allgroanup.com, where he guides and encourages twenty-somethings struggling with life after college. “I felt as though all my peers were sailing on the ‘Rock Your Twenties Cruise Ship,’ and I had somehow missed the boat.”

Once Angone opened up about his feelings of uncertainty about where his life was headed, he realized he was not alone in this burgeoning adulthood angst. “Of course people always ask the practical questions about finding a job or getting married, but the underlying concerns include these themes: Is it normal to feel unsure and confused about life in your twenties? Am I going to be all right? Will I become the person I’m ‘supposed’ to be?” said Angone. His book answers these questions and more, expanding upon his popular blog article “21 Secrets for your 20s,” read and heralded by nearly 1 million readers. “This ongoing collective narrative of anxiety motivated me to begin writing a book and launch my website in order to create a safe and authentic space for people to ask questions, vent, laugh, and ultimately be inspired.”

Angone’s quest for the secrets to success during this delicate decade took place while he worked toward his master’s degree in leadership at APU. He spent more than five years researching, writing, and most important, personally experiencing some of the best and worst ways for young adults to navigate their twenties. “One of the most important lessons I learned and encourage others to take to heart is to watch out for Obsessive Comparison Disorder—don’t compare yourself with other people,” said Angone. “Don’t cram your plotline into someone else’s story.” Angone hopes to be a leading voice of encouragement, insight, authenticity, and laugh-out-loud humor to this generation. If early book reviews are any indication of how his message is being received, then he has met his goal. As Seth Godin, New York Times bestseller and author of The Icarus Deception, so aptly states, “[101 Secrets for Your Twenties] is like advice from a wiser, funnier, older brother . . . Paul’s been there, done that, and wants to save you some pain and some trouble.”

As Angone steps into his thirties with his wife, Naomi (Ramos ’04), and their two daughters, Hannalise and Sierrah, he leaves behind a helpful roadmap for newbies entering emerging adulthood. It’s all there—the stop signs for bad relationships, the peaks and valleys of marriage and family, the blind spots of faith and friendships, and the constant curves of careers. Angone, however, keeps his readers headed in the right direction by shooting straight with Secret #1, which asserts, “Sometimes surviving your 20s is nothing more glamorous than just holding on for dear life on the back of an inner tube like a kid being whipped around by a speedboat.”

Originally published in the Fall '13 issue of APU Life. Download the full issue (PDF).