Congratulations Graduate! Now Read These 3 Books.

Class of 2018, here’s what you need to know about the real world, according to these 3 books: You can feel like an outsider and still be successful; life is better if you learn to laugh at yourself; and, despite the hype, 30 is not the new 20. Here’s how to make the best of these crucial years.

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Mis-Educating the Young

A few months ago I had lunch with a former student named Lucy Fleming, one of the best writers I’ve taught. I asked her what she had learned in her first year out of college. She said she had been forced to think differently.

While in school, her thinking was station to station: take that test, apply to that college, aim for a degree. But in young adulthood, there are no more stations. Everything is open seas. Your main problems are not about the assignment right in front of you; they are about the horizon far away. What should you be steering toward? It requires an entirely different set of navigational skills.

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The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage

AT 32, one of my clients (I’ll call her Jennifer) had a lavish wine-country wedding. By then, Jennifer and her boyfriend had lived together for more than four years. The event was attended by the couple’s friends, families and two dogs.

When Jennifer started therapy with me less than a year later, she was looking for a divorce lawyer. “I spent more time planning my wedding than I spent happily married,” she sobbed. Most disheartening to Jennifer was that she’d tried to do everything right. “My parents got married young so, of course, they got divorced. We lived together! How did this happen?”

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