Bad Readers Reviews: "Less" And How We Face Adulthood And Aging

Bad Readers Reviews: "Less" And How We Face Adulthood And Aging

Laugh, cry, swoon, and think, "Yeah.... I get that."

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Like all of the books that have defined my adult summers (re: '16, '17, '18), I read "Less" by Andrew Sean Greer on the train to New York. And like the two books before it, "Less" touched on something in me I wasn't fully ready to explore yet. In this specific instance: adulthood and how we humans face growing older.

When I was fifteen, I had a blog (a mild failure; don't ask) and I clearly remember wanting to write a piece titled, "On Growing Up and Sucking More" because, at fifteen, I thought that was brilliant. But the problem that derailed this ingenious plan was the fact that I had no idea what to say. What does a fifteen-year-old with a relatively safe and secure childhood know about growing up? Learning Santa Clause wasn't real? Getting that first shitty period or growing boobs and feeling self-conscious? Having to think about college and begin to conceptualize "the rest of your life"?

Essentially, nothing.

Wanting to be older was as much a cornerstone of my childhood as the scent of my grapefruit Neutrogena acne scrub was and just as nostalgic in memory. Now, as a rising junior who violently shudders whenever an adult asks me how it feels to be halfway done with college, I want to be younger so badly. Sure, the freedom is fun and being able to vote and drive is a definite plus, but now I'm An Adult™️ and I have to make Decisions™️ all the time and Plan For a Career™️ and that stuff is Scary to Do™️.

So it's encouraging in the most depraved kind of way that the titular character of "Less" feels much the same way I do at twenty as he approaches and reaches his fiftieth birthday. Unlike Jennifer Aniston, we don't all age with grace and incredible beauty. Growing older (notice how I'm not saying growing up? I am up. I am An Adult™️) is petrifying to everyone except John Mulaney's old queen alter ego. No one wants to look back on their life at any stage, especially when you're twenty and you know in your heart of hearts that the best years are ahead of you but damn, looking back…. Life used to be pretty good….

But "Less" answers the question: "What happens when we have to look back on our lives?" Because we all will at some point, and it won't be with a nostalgic longing for Annie's Mac and Cheese. It will be for what we consider to be the best days of our lives, the ones we don't know until they're past us. And that's scary as all hell.

So how do we cope? In Arthur Less's case, run away on a five-month journey across the world to escape a former boyfriend's wedding to someone else.

While the specifics of this coping mechanism are not universally applicable (if only we could all be semi-famous novelists with love affairs that are better known than our written works), what Less learns on his trip is: that we need to learn to be alone. "How did you get from Less's story," you might ask. "He's always around other people!" Ah yes, but it is only in his brief moments alone, in his reflections about being alone, that he truly finds what it means to age and, at fifty, be an adult.

Don't understand what I'm talking about? Read the book. The Pulitzer Board did.

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40 Small Things That Make College Students Happy

It doesn't take much...
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1. When class is canceled.

2. When the coffee shop you stop at five minutes before your 8 a.m. has a short line.

3. Coffee, coffee, coffee.

4. Open note tests.

5. Or even better, take home tests.

6. The unofficial assigned seating process that that takes place after the first week or so of classes.

7. Thursday nights. (because in college, Thursday qualifies as the weekend.)

8. Sales.

9. Or once again, even better, free things.

10. Specifically free food.

11. Dogs.

12. Dogs on campus.

13. Tailgates and Saturday afternoon football games.

14. Finding an already completed Quizlet for your exam.

15. Having an extra 30 minutes for a nap, and if you're lucky, an hour.

16. Netflix.

17. When your roommate takes out the trash.

18. Weekends after test weeks.

19. The rare blessing of a curve on an exam.

20. Getting out of class early.

21. How in college, it is socially expectable to wear a t-shirt everyday.

22. Being able to walk from class to class or eat in the dining hall without having to see anyone you know. (and thank goodness too because you probably don't look too good.)

23. Crossing things off of your to-do list.

24. Your best-friends that you make in college.

25. A full tank of gas.

26. Seeing a new face everyday.

27. Crawling back into bed after your 8 or 9 a.m. (or after any class that ends with a.m.)

28. Care packages.

29. No cover charges.

30. When adults tell you that it is okay that you have no idea what you want to do with your life yet. (regardless of what parents or your advisor may say.)

31. Pizza.

32. Finding out you weren't the only one who did poorly on the exam.

33. Deciding not to buy the textbook, and never needing it.

34. Finding the perfect gif to express how you're feeling. (Michael Scott just get it.)

35. Weekends at home because...

36. Pets.

37. Mom's home cooked pie and Dad's steak dinners,

38. Spring Break.

39. Road trips.

40. When it finally starts to cool down outside so you can show up to class dry instead of dripping in sweat.

Cover Image Credit: Abigail Wideman

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Everyone Should Experience Working In Fast Food Or Retail

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it.

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I know these jobs aren't glamorous. In fact, most days I looked forward to clocking out before I had even clocked in. I always secretly rolled my eyes when an angry customer droned on and on about how entitled he or she was. Though I can name a lot of bad things that happened on the job, it wasn't all horrible. As I reflect on my time working in fast food, I realize how much having that job really taught me and how grateful I am to have had that experience. I really think everyone should work in fast food or retail at some point, and here's why:

You make some great friends from work. I get it, sometimes your co-workers are royal jerks or flat out creeps. You see your name on the schedule next to theirs and immediately try switching with someone else. I've been there. However, I have worked with some amazing people as well.

Every time I worked with one girl in particular, we laughed for entire shifts. One night, we were singing the national anthem at the top of our lungs without realizing a customer had come in (to our surprise, she applauded our terrible screaming). Another coworker and I turned up the radio on full blast when business was slow and had dance battles. We made the most of our shifts, and I still talk to some of these people today.

You learn how to deal with difficult people. It's the age-old story: the uppity customer thinks twelve dollars for a meal combo is outrageous and Where is your manager?!

My friend and I were once called stupid and a customer said he would never come back to our restaurant to eat ever again. At the moment, we were scared out of our minds because we were both pretty new to the job. As time passed, we became more patient and tolerant and knew what triggered these particular customers. Dealing with these adversities definitely helps in the long run, particularly when it comes to doing group work with people who seem unbearable.

Your people skills increase by a landslide. I had always thought that I was great with people before I had a job. However, when I found myself in situations where I had to talk to strangers, I would grow nervous and stumble across my words from time to time. Working in an environment where communicating with others is a driving force helped me not only with improving my public speaking, but also made me more outgoing. In situations where I once backed into the corner to avoid having to talk to someone, I now take charge and initiate a conversation.

You establish a connection with regular customers. My favorite customer was named Jack. He was the sweetest old man who came in every Wednesday and Friday and bought food for himself and his wife. I quickly memorized his order, which impressed him. We shared pleasantries every time he came in, and my coworkers and I looked forward to seeing him.

Establishing a relationship with people who come in a lot helps immensely when it comes to working. It also provides a sense of accomplishment when you memorize an order. Not to mention, the customers start to like you and typically leave a generous tip!

You have stories to tell for a lifetime! Sometimes bad things happen at work. Once I was holding a hot pan and burned my arm— I still have the burn mark on my arm to prove it. My point is, it sucked at the moment, but now I look back and laugh.

One time I asked my coworker how to make soup and she replied, "Slowly, but beautifully." It was so nonchalant that I cracked up for hours. There was also a time when a customer asked me for outlandish toppings and condiments that we didn't offer. The craziest story, though, was the drug deal that went down in our public restrooms. My coworker and I obviously could not leave our station and follow these people into the bathroom, so we were pretty much defenseless. Nobody got hurt or anything, so it made for a great story.

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it. It made me more independent and outgoing and gave me memories I'll never forget.

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