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From the author of Text Me When You Get Home, a look at what it means to be in your thirties, and to navigate some of the biggest milestones of adult life . . . and how it is more okay than ever to not have every box checked off
On Kayleen Schaefer’s birthday she went dancing with friends, they broke a table, and she turned thirty standing on the sidewalk outside a club she got kicked out of.
Sociologists have identified the five markers of adulthood as: finishing school, leaving home, marriage, gaining financial independence, and having kids. But the signifiers of being in our thirties today are not the same—repeated economic upheaval, rising debt, decreasing marriage rates, fertility treatments, and a more open-minded society have all led to a shifting timeline. Americans are taking major life steps later, switching careers with unprecedented frequency, and exercising increased freedom and creativity in their decisions about how to shape their lives. So why are we measuring "adulthood" by the same metrics that were relied upon fifty years ago?
BUT YOU'RE STILL SO YOUNG is cleverly structured around these five major life events. For each milestone, the book highlights men and women from various backgrounds, from around the country, and delves into their experiences navigating an ever-changing financial landscape and evolving societal expectations. The eight thirtysomethings in this book envisioned their thirties differently than how they are actually living them. He thought he would be done with his degree, she thought she’d be married, they thought they’d be famous comedians, and everyone thought they would have more money.
Kayleen uses her smart narrative framing, her relatable voice, and her own story to show how the thirties have changed from the cultural stereotypes around them, and how they are a radically different experience for Americans now than it was for any other generation. And as she and her sources show, not being able to do everything isn’t a sign of a life gone wrong. Being open to going sideways or upside down or backward, means it has gone right: you found meaning and value in many different ways of living.
About the Author
Kayleen Schaefer is a journalist and author of Text Me When You Get Home and the bestselling Kindle Single memoir Fade Out. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Vogue, and many other publications. She lives in New York City.
“In the 1950s, sociologists came up with a checklist for entering adulthood: finish school, leave home, make your own money, marry and become a parent….In her thoughtful and well-paced evaluation of 'adulthood,' Schaefer explores the struggle today’s ascendant adults face in getting anywhere near these goals 'on time.'”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Schaefer mixes social science, psychology, original reporting, and personal anecdotes into a work of nonfiction that is as compact and refreshing as a soft-serve ice cream cone… Clearheaded and full of heart, But You’re Still So Young offers a gentle indictment of a broken system and also a soothing message: Nobody’s got it all figured out."
—Vogue, "The Best Books to Read in 2021"
“A sharp and empathetic investigation into what being in your thirties means today. Weaving together personal history, original reporting, and cultural analysis, Schaefer tackles five of the major milestones we’ve been told define adulthood—finishing school, leaving home, getting married, gaining financial independence, and having kids—and explores their modern significance, presenting a compelling argument that these achievements aren’t actually as meaningful as we’ve been led to believe. It’s a must-read for anyone who’s ever considered bucking tradition—or anyone who’d like to better understand why this isn’t a bad thing.”
—Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed
“Kayleen Schaefer's But You're Still So Young challenges outdated ideas about the traditional markers of adulthood with a potent combination of wit and a keen observational eye.”
—POP SUGAR, “25 Best New Books of March”
"A thought-provoking read."
“But You're Still So Young is a balm to the soul with extra special salience in uncertain times. Kayleen Schaefer weaves together eight vivid portraits of living out a decade ‘no one has given a name to’ in a time when we're neither too young or too old, when we're searching for what we want to do, who we want to spend our time with, and who we are, all while facing rampant job insecurity, rising debts, and the threat of ‘geriatric’ pregnancies. Schaefer is a candid guide throughout, as she unveils her own experience as a woman who has ‘not fully transitioned to adulthood.’ How deeply relatable! I just love this book.”
—Susannah Cahalan, New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire and The Great Pretender
“Kayleen Schaefer masterfully and tenderly explores the contradictions, confusions, and freedoms for modern thirtysomethings across a wide spectrum of backgrounds. This thoughtful collection of stories, research, and personal experience is equal parts educational and insightful, and will no doubt comfort anyone who feels like they are still growing up—so, all of us. Kayleen Schaefer brilliantly reframes the "messiness" of modern adulthood into something much more empowering: the opportunity to create the lives we really want.”
—Mari Andrew, New York Times bestselling author of Am I There Yet?
"[Schaefer’s] conversational writing style will draw in readers, especially those who enjoyed her previous book."