Discover more from Things Your Mom Should Have Told You
Why am I telling you these things?
Reading this newsletter may help reduce anxiety about navigating adulthood
Welcome to Things Your Mom Should Have Told You. As we begin this adventure, I feel like I should explain what provoked this newsletter.
I remember standing in your new and somewhat uncomfortable shoes
When I see this picture of myself in cap and gown, it reminds me about the mixed emotions I felt on graduation day. On the one hand, I’d finally reached the top of the mountain. All the studying and tests were over. But on the other hand, now there was a whole other, in some ways steeper, mountain to climb—actually assembling all of the pieces of that wonderful grown-up life I’d been dreaming about all along.
It didn’t take long to discover that in the real world I couldn’t count on things working mostly like I expected them to and being rewarded as long as I put in the effort. In fact, I found that during my 20s very few life experiences unfolded like I had imagined they would.
Adulthood was littered with all kinds of tricky things that I wasn’t sure how to handle at first, like dislikable bosses, rainy wedding days, and in-laws. It also featured troublesome situations like hating my first job and having to fire a bridesmaid.
Plus other larger how-the-hell-is-this-going-to-work dilemmas were looming in the background, like how was I going to find my way to a dream job when I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up? And was it really going to be possible to juggle a career and parenthood someday like conventional wisdom had been telling me all along?
It sure would have been nice if someone had spoken to me honestly about the things I was likely to encounter as a young adult. And yet it seemed like once you graduated, you were expected to fend for yourself without much guidance. Nobody acknowledged the dilemmas and struggles I was routinely encountering. For the most part, my elders and society in general gave the impression that adulthood should be mostly smooth sailing if you were doing it right.
By the time I hit my mid-30s, I managed to figure most things out. And then I got so busy with the life I had assembled for myself (complete with marriage, a house, a career, and three kids who arrived within 5 years) that I forgot about the struggles of young adulthood for a while.
But eventually my daughters grew up, and as they prepared to leave home, I started to become part of the “everything’s fine” conspiracy. Most of the time when we discussed their futures, I talked about limitless opportunities and focused on the upside. I suppose I avoided talking about the struggles ahead because I didn’t want them to be discouraged. Or I guess I hoped that somehow they’d magically avoid all the pitfalls.
Then I read about a golden rule that marathon runners follow—if a runner asks you about the terrain on the trail ahead, you should let them know about tough hills and how far they still have to go. In other words, instead of resorting to happy talk and telling them it won’t be that hard, you should be honest.
So I decided to be more open about the challenges and dilemmas that come along with being a grown-up. I started sharing the non-airbrushed version of my experiences as a young adult with my daughters and telling them all of the things I wished my mom or somebody had told me. I'm happy to do the same for you.
I feel badly that young people today face more pressure than ever to “have it all”—even though nobody has ever explained how to pull that off. I feel like there’s a lot to catch you up on.
But if you join me on this journey, I promise that you’ll learn some things that will help you navigate through life. Who knows—maybe I can help prevent a quarter-life crisis or two (which is in my own best interest since my daughters are all now in their 20s).
Navigating adulthood hasn’t gotten any simpler since I was standing in your shoes, but hopefully reading Things Your Mom Should Have Told You will be of some assistance as you go about assembling your grown-up life.
In the meantime, please remember that becoming a happy and competent person with a well-balanced and meaningful life doesn’t happen overnight. A little uncertainty at this stage of the game is perfectly normal.
If you subscribe, this newsletter will automatically land in your inbox every Tuesday. (If it doesn’t, say a little prayer to St. Anthony for help finding it, then check your spam folder. DM me if it still doesn’t show up.)
And if you know anybody else who might benefit from these things I’ll be telling you, by all means, do them a solid and tell them about TYMSHTY.
I’m curating a “Books of Wisdom” collection for you that covers all of the topics on the minds of people trying to get their lives together–love and relationships, career, finding meaning and purpose in life, and life hacks. In every issue, I’ll offer samples from the Book of the Month so that you can assess whether this book would be a good read for you.
Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans show how to apply the principles of design thinking to the problem of designing your life
Both Burnett and Evans were successful Silicon Valley innovators. Burnett had watched hundreds of students at Stanford struggle with figuring out life after graduation. Evans taught at UC Berkeley where he’d developed a course called “How to Find Your Vocation.” They decided to partner together to bring a new course to Stanford to teach students how to use design thinking to figure out what you want to be when you grow up.
That course has gone on to become one of the most popular elective classes at Stanford. Burnett and Evans wrote Designing Your Life so you can have a well-designed life even if you don’t go to Stanford.
Stay tuned for more snippets from Designing Your Life this month.
In the olden days, moms used to clip articles from newspapers for their kids if they thought it was something they needed to know. I’ll be keeping an eye out for things that you might have missed that may be helpful to you.
This week’s clips:
Every week the Family Dinner Project posts budget-friendly, low-effort 5-day dinner plans that even come complete with shopping lists
Behavioral scientist and dating coach Logan Ury on what to do if you think you’re being ghosted
Even the Pope says that young people aren’t meant to be superheroes; we just need you to be bearers of hope
To get my backstory or laugh at more photos of my Big 80s hair, go to joannemchugh.com
Next Week: When you feel like you don’t have a squad anymore…Coping when your besties spin off into other sitcoms
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