Growing Up in 468 Steps

Kelly Williams Brown '06
Kelly Williams Brown '06

View the complete issue of fall 2013 LOYNO Magazine.

By Kate Trotter '14

Alumna’s first book presents a humorous, helpful guide to acting like an adult even if you don’t feel like one. 

Loyola University New Orleans School of Mass Communication alumna Kelly Williams Brown ’06 has written just about the most helpful guide to becoming a successful adult you’ll ever find, according to Publishers Weekly. The book has been covered in numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Vogue.


Brown’s new book, Adulting: How to Become a Grown- Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, published Grant Central Publishing, includes valuable, practical advice for those in their 20s (or 30s) looking to navigate the rough roads of adulthood.


Brown appeared on NBC’s TODAY show this summer to explain a few of the book’s steps, which cover everything from getting your taxes done on time and what to wear on casual Fridays to being a good apartment tenant and even reasonable dating etiquette.


Although most steps offer insight on issues adults presume they will encounter eventually, some steps cover the basics, such as toilet paper (in step No. 18), a necessity often forgotten about.


“One of the most jolting days of adulthood comes the first time you run out of toilet paper,” Brown writes. “Toilet paper, up until this point, always just existed, and now it’s a finite resource, constantly in danger of extinction that must be carefully tracked and monitored, like pandas?”


Brown’s humorous and relatable anecdotes fill her book alongside her 468 steps, leaving readers with a new best friend who not only tells all but is also forgiving of inevitable mistakes such as, in step No. 382, going a bit crazy after having your heart broken.


“Heartbreak can induce insanity in the very sanest of us,” she writes. “If you could wave a wand and make yourself  not feel it, you would. Constantly reminding yourself how pathetic you are does not need to be a part of it.”


The verb “adulting” was originally created for Brown’s blog, which has more than 140,000 followers on Tumblr. Brown claims the blog helps you act like an adult even if you don’t feel like one, which Brown can easily relate to herself. Actually, most of her advice and steps come from other people, including friends and strangers.


“Wise random strangers at bars are modern-day Oracles of Delphi, except drunk and sometimes leaving abruptly when it’s their turn for karaoke,” Brown writes.


An important part of the book is the beginning, which instructs readers to get their minds right and accept (in step No. 1) that they are not “Special Snowflake[s].” It might be a tough statement to digest right away, but Brown wants readers to know that taking a new perspective on life is one of the first steps to being a grown-up.


“The point of this book is that even though things seem – and are – complicated and difficult, we have control over ourselves,” Brown writes. “Someone is a grown-up by virtue of acting like one. And no matter who you are, you can be a grown-up.”


As for advice to any future writers, Brown believes in looking to your audience.


“I think the only really useful advice for anyone who wants to be a writer (besides insane amounts of practice) is asking yourself not why you want to write this, but why others want to read it,” Brown says.


Brown, currently working as a copywriter for Leopold Ketel & Partners in Portland, Oregon, has worked as a reporter and columnist for various newspapers for six years and was an award-winning humor columnist for the Statesman Journal, a daily newspaper in Salem, Oregon.


Kate Trotter '14 (marketing) works as the marketing and publications assistant for the Office of Marketing and Communications.

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