August 30, 2013

As a twenty-something writer of online essays, it goes without saying that I have closely followed Chelsea Fagan’s career. And it’s been an impressive one.

Chelsea Fagan is a Senior Writer Thought Catalog (she writes from Paris, where she also maintains a very well-followed tumblr). Her output is massive — sometimes two or three posts a day — and the quality of her writing is consistently excellent. I know that I’m not alone in finding the content on Thought Catalog to be quite varied in value, but I can say with certainty that what Chelsea Fagan provides is solid.

Now she’s written a book: “I’m Only Here for the Wifi: A Complete Guide to Reluctant Adulthood.” Is this book ground-breaking? Not really. But is it interesting, amusing, and relatable? Well, of course it is.

Uniquely, it is not relatable because Chelsea tells us about the intimate details of her relationship, or describes her saddest moments. This book is remarkable in that it’s the antithesis of the over-sharing that we’ve come to expect from our peers. It is not self-indulgent — in fact, far from being so, it’s actually just what it claims to be: a guide. A funny, light, relatable guide to living well in your early twenties.

The book deals with issues like how to get a hobby when you’re no longer being driven to soccer practice, how to survive your first real job, and how to continue to “go out” as you age. This is all useful, and it’s relayed as if by a close friend; Chelsea seems like someone you want to be best friends with. She writes like you’d want your best friend to talk, which makes everything she says appealing.

The book does not delve much further than that — much of it, as I’ve said, is really light. The weight comes at the very end, when Chelsea talks frankly about an idea I hold dear: that whatever you choose to do in life is ok, that everyone goes through difficult times, and that we’re all just trying to get by.

“It’s arguably more difficult now than it has ever been to simply let go of the comparisons with your peers while simultaneously remaining happy for what they are doing,” she says. She goes on to talk about social media and its inescapable presence. But then she shifts gears, and talks about emotional maturity as the real indicator of success. “Why isn’t there more of an emphasis placed on how we’re evolving when we interact with one another?… Maybe that is what makes you an adult more than anything else in your life. To look at what you’re doing and honestly say, “I am trying my hardest and being kind to people, and I like who I am.’”

I said before that this book doesn’t break new ground, and as a whole I stick by that — but in that sentence Chelsea does unearth something shattering. Success is hard work and kindness, and that’s something we all need to internalize.

So yes, buy this book. It’s unsurprising but funny at worst, and at best it is wise, kind, and comforting.

Learn kindness on Portable.

Leave a Comment