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And Then We Grew Up: Thirtysomething Panic and the Imperfect Art of Adulthood (Interview with Rachel Friedman)

Once in a while, I find a book that I wish I could put directly into the hands of everyone who is struggling with a certain topic. When a friend recommended Rachel Friedman’s book And Then We Grew Up: On Creativity, Potential, and the Imperfect Art of Adulthood, I was excited to read it, but I had no idea how much it would speak to some of the core issues that thirtysomethings struggle with. I highlighted the book within an inch of its life, and I knew I had to talk to Rachel and share her insights with you all. 

One of the best ways to make the Isolation —> Belonging Shift is to hear stories about other people who have gone through something like what you’re going through. Today I want to introduce you to one of those people.

Writer Rachel Friedman knows what it’s like to grow up into an adulthood that looked nothing like “kid Rachel” thought it would. Her experience led her to an exploration of how we deal with the difference between who we thought we’d be and who we grew up into, and the difference between what we wanted and what we got.

In other words, Rachel did a deep dive into what to do when your “Real Grownup” vision and your reality don’t match up. And we are so lucky, because she agreed to share her experience and all the lessons that came from it with us.

Whether or not you identify as creative or artistic, Rachel’s insights will help you question the assumptions that are hampering your happiness, rewrite your own story and make peace with your past, find more joy and self-gentleness in the present, and make more effective decisions for your future. 

If you’ve ever felt you’re not living up to your potential, you will not want to miss this interview.

 Here’s what we dive into:

  • Rachel’s story, and what happened when what she thought would bring her joy as a “Real Grownup” actually made her miserable (2:30)
  • Dismantling the myth of the “Art Monster,” and other warped notions that stand in the way of true happiness, success, balance, and mental health (7:48)
  • Creating the right life balance for YOU (11:50)
  • When perseverance is pathological: conscious quitting, and the benefits of quitting consciously, gracefully, and healthfully (13:25)
  • How dealing with “failure baggage” and giving failure space can help you—and the importance of grieving rejections, disappointments, and lost identities (17:15) 
  • What to do when you’re haunted by What Ifs about your past: how to handle “what if I had” / “if only I had” regret pangs—including those things you think you “should have let go of” by now (21:05)
  • How hanging on to the past may be a sneaky escape from doubt and insecurity of the present—and get in the way of actually creating the life you want now (25:50)
  • Rachel’s one-woman mission to getting back to the original definition of potential, and how the shift from promise to possibility can free you  (28:30)
  • The surprising advantage of “embracing ordinary,” and how cultural messages, systems, and mythologies about success mask key truths (31:25)
  • The normalcy of needing external validation, acknowledgment, and recognition, and a personal calculation you need to make (34:55)
  • The key things that matter to creating your successful life other than talent (disposition, values, etc.) when creating a successful grownup life (37:15)
  • Reconciling your desire to make your passion your job with your desire for stability, financial security, where you want to live, and other seemingly conflicting values (39:50)
  • How to tell the difference between the resistance that is part of any growth path and the intuition that something is not right for you—how do you know when it’s time to quit? (47:55)
  • How talking with others can help you find your answers—and the eventual necessity to trust yourself as the ultimate authority of your experience and figure-outer of your own life (51:15) 
  • The decision to have a child, and Rachel’s reflections on fears and realities about balancing having a child with her professional and creative endeavors (54:50)
  • The surprising generosity of life in giving us continual unexpected opportunities through which to do our work on this planet and be ourselves—plus, a powerful mindset to empower you when circumstances don’t feel ideal (1:04:01)
  • The huge variety of ways to be an artist and live a creative life, and keeping your passions active in ways other than your job—with lots of examples of people who diverged from the path they thought they’d take—and Rachel’s insight into one of the biggest keys to resilience (1:05:40)
  • Rachel’s final tips for reckoning with Thirtysomething Panic, and facing the gap between what you thought your life would look like and what it turned out to be (1:09:45)

I recommend this interview for every adult, and ESPECIALLY for any adult who is feeling a gap between where they want to be and where they are in life. If I was teaching a grad school course in breaking through Thirtysomething Panic, And Then We Grew Up would be at the beginning of the syllabus! I think you’re going to love what Rachel has to say about potential, failure, success, and adulthood.

Watch the interview now, and then read. this. book.

Visit Rachel’s website at https://www.rachel-friedman.com/.

Buy Rachel’s book at your favorite indie bookstore (find it at here) or anywhere books are sold.

Want to work with me privately? Reach out to me at carrie@carriespaulding.com.

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