All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!

All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!

by Paul Angone
All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!

All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!

by Paul Angone


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All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and A Freaking Job! is the story of the Gen Y/Millennial generation told through the individual story of author Paul Angone. It’s a story of struggle, hope, failure, and doubts in the twilight zone of growing up and being grown, connecting with his twentysomething post-college audience with raw honesty, humor, and hope.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310341352
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 04/21/2015
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.55(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Paul Angone is a leading voice to, and for, twentysomethings. He is the bestselling author of 101 Secrets for Your Twenties, a sought-after speaker, and the creator of All Groan— a place for those asking “What now?” Paul graduated from Westmont College with a degree in Communication Studies and then received his Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University. Paul grew up in Denver, Colorado, and currently lives in San Diego with his wife, Naomi, and their two daughters.

Read an Excerpt

All Groan Up

Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!

By Paul Angone


Copyright © 2014 Paul Angone
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-34135-2



I went into college graduation believing I was now trained and equipped to go change the world.

And if not to change the world, at least to make a serious difference.

And if not to make a serious difference, at least to make some serious money.

And if not any money, at least be working a job that I enjoyed.

And if a job I didn't really enjoy, at least a job that sounded enjoyable—something I could spin to my friends as I convinced them of my amazing life. Even if it wasn't really.

With college diploma in hand, I was ready to be used by God and man in big ways. A college diploma meant answers. A college diploma meant doors flung open, where everything is up for grabs.

So why now, years later, do my hands still feel like they're in pockets full of Super Glue?

To make matters worse, I have other friends whose hands are glueless. They started grabbing success the minute they stepped into the real world.

One of those friends (I call them friends, but secretly I loathe them just a little now) is Mike Yankoski, who purposely became homeless for five months, then wrote a life-changing and powerful book about it called Under the overpass. Now he's traveling everywhere speaking about this experience. Such vision, such strength, such hope, such excitement, such purpose. Thanks, Mike. While you're at it, can you come over and kick my little dog, BeauJo, who has to wear diapers because he can't control his bladder?

Another one of my friends, Brent, recently came back from El Salvador, where he helped start and sustain eight different businesses for the local economy. Right after he returned, he received a random call asking if he wanted to jump on a private jet and fly with influential guys like Rick Warren (author of The Purpose Driven Life) to Uganda to help with peace efforts and business development.

Brent told me one amazing story after another about his spur-of-the-moment trip to Africa and Switzerland (I forgot to mention this added jaunt to Switzerland). During one of their flights, Brent explained, he glanced at the computer screen of the gentleman sitting next to him, only to see him working on a speech for (then current) President Bush, which good old George W. would be giving the following Tuesday. My friend sat next to, conversed with, and bounced ideas off one of the U.S. president's inner circle whilst—pause for effect—flying to Switzerland in a private jet!

I remember the night Brent dropped in unexpectedly and told me about his trip. It was a cool, crisp evening. I was sitting on a brown, furry beanbag called the Lovesack that was purchased at a yard sale. As Brent told his story, a very large part of me was very excited for him as I sat on the edge of my Lovesack in awe and anticipation. A very large part of me felt very proud of my friend. A large and overwhelming part.

But then there was this small, little voice that kept popping up like an angry squirrel that believes he owns your bird feeder. Sure it was small, but it made its presence known. Paul, the voice asked, what are you doing right now?

"Well, I'm still trying to find my way. I'm doing—"

No, no, the small voice said with a chuckle. Not what are you doing in life, but literally right at this moment—what are you doing?

Then the joke hit me. Here my friend Brent is explaining how he's trying to change the world in a dramatic way. Flying to Africa, chatting it up with world leaders. And what was I doing while he's telling me all this? Eating a piece of chicken (all right, not actual chicken but chicken-flavored Top Ramen) while icing my hamstring, which I had torn during a slow-pitch softball game.

Slow-pitch softball! The "sport" that fifty-five-year-old men with a gut the size of Fort Worth, swinging a bat with beers in both hands, can excel at.

At the very least I could've been icing my hamstring that I'd hurt sprinting into a burning building to save a three-year-old with terminal cancer.

As Brent told his hilarious story of the plane not being able to find runway space in Zurich, I flashed back years ago to my Smug College Self, that arrogant kid who was untouchable. Thriving there in that peaceful, safe collegiate womb. Smiling, dreaming, thinking big— knowing that once I was really born, my life would be made into a movie someday. And if not a movie, at least a TV miniseries.

How I wished I could've gone back and just slapped that know-it-all grin off his face. I would've loved to tell him the truth—that someday he would be on a giant, hairy beanbag, broke and unemployed, eating his last Top Ramen while his friends did all the big things he'd always dreamed of. But there, back in the womb, would I have even listened?



It was so cozy. The best La-Z-Boy on the market. Complete tranquility never to be duplicated. Our only responsibility was to set our seats to "relax." Comfort only embryonic fluid could offer.

And for nine straight months, relax we did. How could we not? Lights dimmed to a perfect sleeping level. Never too hot, never too cold. Soundproof walls impervious to dogs barking, blenders mixing, people yelling.

And the food. Oh, the food! Delicious and delivered directly to our stomachs. None of this opening cans or reheating leftovers for us. No sir, it was seven-course cuisine in a tube.

And the best part? The only person you had to deal with was you. And not you as you are today, but a you with no wrongs.

You hadn't yet stolen any cookies from the pantry. Hadn't tried to look up the dress of your fourth-grade teacher. Hadn't called your best friend stupid or told your parents you hate them. No failures, no history of disappointments, no shameful secrets, no insecurities as blaring as that zit on your nose you'd be blessed with come age fourteen.

Nope. Just ten fingers, ten toes, a couple appendages hanging off your side. Pretty simple. You had yourself pretty much figured out.

Life was sweet in the womb. A couple of posters over there, a plant or two thataway, maybe someday a flat-screen TV. You had big plans to stay there forever. It was comfort; it was safety; it was the best five-star hotel no money could buy.

To have faith that life would end up smelling like a twelve-dozen-rose bouquet was no stretch of the imagination. It wasn't much of a leap to trust that your cocoon would shield you from all harm. That was the standard, not the exception. Everything around you said so. Until one fateful day.

What the (insert expletive here)!

But the womb was a liar, a cheat, false advertising to the extreme—a fact that every human being learns a bit too late, as tranquility turns to what the ... in about 5.7 seconds. Comfortably dimmed lights switch to a 250-watt medical spot lamp pointed directly in your eyes. La-Z-Boyesque embryonic cushions violently transition to huge hands yanking on your head, turning your neck a direction you never knew it could go.

"Whoa. Hey, hey! Son ... of ... a ...!" Cutting, bleeding, screaming. And worst of all, when you finally make it through, you're naked. With a bunch of people staring at you. And you realize for the first time (and probably not the last) that naked you isn't all that attractive. Your body resembles less a Michelangelo and more that thing your cat found in the backyard and dragged into the middle of the family room.

Would it have killed somebody to give us a little heads-up? At least put up a couple of warning signs along the way out?

"Proceed with Caution."

"This Might Sting a Little."

"Severe Turbulence Ahead."

"Swim Back Upstream! Swim for Your Life!"

"This Gets a Whole Lot Worse before It Gets Better."

A Few Years Later

Birth is our introduction to transition. What a word that is—transition. It rolls off the tongue so sophisticatedly, so refined. Like an English gentleman sending his regrets.

But that's not really how transition should sound. Not when it brings glaring lights and screams and 180-degree neck twists.

I retell our dramatic entry into the world because I experienced another birth-like transition. In one terrifying motion, this transition ripped my comfortable little life from its slumber, leaving me crying and naked again.

So what happened on this terrifying day?

Well, this is where more esteemed authors would describe the car crash that put them in the hospital for fifteen months, or the day they learned they had cancer. And the rest of their book would unfold an uplifting story of courage and triumph.

Well, that's not me. Nope, not a speck of cancer. And my beautiful Honda Civic hatchback that I started driving during my senior year of high school is running as smoothly as ever.

No, my own life-altering transition is something commonly understood to be a cause for celebration.

It was a day that I prayed time and time again would finally come.

It was a day my parents and I spent thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars for. It was a day extended parts of my family came out to cheer, sporting blue and green plastic fold-up chairs and yelling embarrassing things at inopportune times.

This day, this event, this supposed rocket-launch-into-the-rest-of-my-life: college graduation!

I crossed that stage on a sunny day in May, shook a few hands, flashed my "got everything figured out" grin, and before I could even wrap my fingers around that diploma, someone was grabbing my head, ripping me out. In an instant, I was a gradu-what the heck do I do now?

Who Wants Cake?

During my graduation party, I couldn't move. The smiling faces, the excited handshakes, the sentiments of joy and congratulations. Aunts and uncles pinching me on the cheeks like they did two decades before.

Everything whipped around me so fast I couldn't move. I felt like the deer stuck on the highway, exposed and vulnerable in the oncoming semi's headlights of "So, Paul, what are your plans for the future?"

The future? Heck if I knew. Guests tossed prying questions in my face like live hand grenades.

I'd just been born, for graduation's sake! My goal right now is to successfully balance this corner piece of cake the size of a Barcalounger on this sturdy coaster-of-a-plate, made from wet, used newspapers, while looking around my house that seven guys have been living in all year and desperately trying to see a way we could ever successfully clean this place so they'll actually let us leave. Once I get all that straightened out, then maybe I'll be able to block your graciously lobbed grenades with my ten-part prospectus for the years ahead.


Everything we thought we knew about ourselves and God and our role in this crazy two-sheets-to-the-wind world changed the day we actually entered it—whether our cocoon exit came on that first day out of school or on the job or in marriage. Whatever the situation, we've all had that "Oh, crap, so this is what real life is" kind of moment. When everything we were so sure about quickly becomes obsolete.

Sun in our eyes. Rash on our legs. Poop that used to just float away, now stuck in the most uncomfortable places imaginable. All we can do is cry. And cry we do.

The womb apparently was not the accurate teacher of reality like we once thought. On that first day out, the hard, cold learning began for us all.

But with it came some perks of living outside our former insulation as well. Taking that first step, eating that first chocolate chip cookie, sliding down our first waterslide, petting our first dog, getting that tingly feeling the first time we really noticed that special someone.

So that later, if you asked us to go back into the womb, we would decline. That would be gross. Sure, life immersed in the outside can sting. A lot. But life in the womb wasn't much of a life after all. To actually live, we had to be born.

Let Life Begin

At least that's what I keep telling myself. Because I'm realizing that living on the outside is harder than I thought. And some simple, straightforward words are much more complicated now: faith, hope, purpose, passion, paying bills, lumbar support, budgeting, et cetera. I actually have to know something about these words now. The future was going to be on a test to be named later, and somehow later had just snuck up on me and smacked me with the edge of that $300 textbook I refused to sell back for $6.33.

In my cocoon, lying there in gooey goodness, I grew all kinds of faith. I didn't doubt for a second I was safe. In babyese I would cry out, "Here I am, Lord. Send me!" I envisioned my words leaving the womb and traveling across the vastness of creation, over the horizon, to where God sat waiting and listening to my cry, waiting to respond.

But now that I'm out, I hear no answer. Only the echo of my cry in return. Is the problem my hearing or his voice?

So now what? Is it up to God or up to me? If it's up to God, what's he doing about it? If it's up to me ... where do I even start?

As I'm carried out of the hospital and introduced to sights my eyes have never seen, I'm exhilarated ... and terrified. The fear and excitement of a world of unknowns keep me whispering, "Got to be born to really live; got to be born to really live." Fingers crossed. Got to be born to really live.



Six months after college is a magical time for a college graduate as your friends—Stafford, Perkins, and the nice man at the bank—decide to retract their hand of grace.

Wait, I actually have to pay these loans back? I thought college loans were like Monopoly money. Someday, in a land far, far away, I'd hand over a couple of pink fives and a few blue fifties, and we'd call it even.

That or someone would slip me a "get out of jail free" card, like Bono announcing a year of loan forgiveness, on him, for all of us middle-class suckers whose parents somehow made enough money to not receive any financial aid, yet somehow concurrently didn't make enough money to even pay for half of first-year English.

So wait, Ms. Sallie Mae—I have to pay how much, for how long? Who knew you owned Boardwalk with a hotel and I'd apparently been a resident there these last four years? So I won't Pass Go for two decades. No big deal.

Who has money for loans anyway? Rent is my more pressing reality. Also, for some reason, it takes food to live. And people charge money for it. What's up with that?

Then there are little things like car insurance, health insurance, and the miscellaneous fun excursions to the mechanic for a blown head gasket on my aforementioned Honda Civic.

"Changing the world" has quickly jumped into the backseat and is taking a nap, while the "reality of continued living" is taking over.

What makes it worse is that I'm still around chipper, knowit-all college students who keep asking, "Hey, Paul, what are you doing with your life?" With their little rosy cheeks and that quiver of excitement in their voice that knows they will make their first million within a year after graduation.

Another thing my professors forgot to teach me was how to lovingly reply, "Working at Starbucks," without wanting to pull out a flask of vodka, take a swig, and then pour just a dash on their clothes and light it on fire.

Not to burn them severely, of course, but just to put the fear of God in them a little, so they know never again to ask me how "life" is. And, of course, to give me a little chuckle as I watch them stop, drop, and roll.

Silly college kids.

But just a class ago, I was one of them—eager to start my future, completely assured the red carpet would precede all my steps. I remember secretly wondering what was wrong with all those twentysomethings who were waiting tables or working boring cubicle jobs. Come on, how hard could it be?

I thought the only problem after college would be picking which amazing job offer to take, like five popular girls all asking me to go to prom. Unfortunately, just like in high school, they somehow all lost my number.

So all those premed students—the ones I mocked in school as they scurried to their labs on Friday nights—were now smiling from ear to ear as they stepped into top medical schools like Columbia, Stanford, and UCLA while I enthusiastically stepped into my local temp agency.

My Own Worst Enemy

Temp agencies are a world I would not want my worst enemies subjected to. Mainly because I envision my worst enemies working deep in the coal mines of Siberia guarded by Arctic wolves, so I figure I'd give them a pass on the whole temp agency process to land such a job. I know, full of grace I am.


Excerpted from All Groan Up by Paul Angone. Copyright © 2014 Paul Angone. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Note from the Author, 13,
CHAPTER ZERO: What Are You Doing?, 15,
CHAPTER ONE: Womb to Reality, 19,
CHAPTER TWO: Top Ramen Dreamer, 27,
CHAPTER THREE: Best Years of Your Life, 37,
CHAPTER FOUR: Are You My Life?, 47,
CHAPTER FIVE: My Own Personal Nazi, 59,
CHAPTER SIX: Fire Escape Plan, 69,
CHAPTER SEVEN: The Chase. The Fall. The Ledge., 75,
CHAPTER EIGHT: Scandalous Love, 81,
CHAPTER NINE: Sandbox Dreams, 95,
CHAPTER TEN: Mush, God, Mush, 103,
CHAPTER TWELVE: Micah, MacGyver, and Me, 121,
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Shopping Cart Man, 139,
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Near-Life Experience, 149,
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Revolving Door, 169,
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: All Groan Up, 183,
Afterword, 201,
Acknowledgments, 203,

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Paul Angone offers a new voice to twentysomethings everywhere, writing honestly about one of life’s biggest transitions. At turns, All Groan Up is hilarious, poignant, and insightful. Angone relentlessly explores who God wants us to be rather than what God wants us to do—words everyone needs to hear, whatever their stage of life. — John Ortberg, , author of The Me I Want to Be

Relatable, funny, and inspiring, All Groan Up is an uplifting story about the redemption of hope when things don’t go as planned. This book is must-read for anyone asking “What’s next?” — Mike Foster, , cofounder and chief chance officer of People of the Second Chance

This is it—the book every young person should read and every teacher and parent should have on hand. I don’t think you can call yourself a grown-up without first reading this book. — Jeff Goins, , author of The Art of Work

My twenties were like the new puberty—awkward, sweaty, weird, and life-changing, except no one warned me about them. Paul Angone’s voice in All Groan Up is not just a warning; it is a conversation, a pep talk, wisdom mixed in with funny stories, and encouragement that not only can you survive this groan-up life; you can live it well. — Amena Brown, , spoken word poet and author of Breaking Old Rhythms

Paul Angone must live inside my house regularly filled with twentysomethings. He gets this generation like few people I know. This book is hilarious, insightful, brilliantly written, and filled with wisdom. Don’t miss the opportunity to give this book to any young adult you know. They will read it because it’s practical, and when they finish the book, they will call it enjoyable, insightful, challenging, and even life changing. — Jim Burns, Ph.D., , president of Home Word and author of Confident Parenting and Teenology

Had me laughing out loud more times than I can count, sometimes literally to the point of tears! Paul Angone writes with a profundity and hilarity that feels like a nascent cross between Donald Miller and Bill Bryson. That’s a high compliment. I think his words will be prophetic to a generation that is drowning in potential. — Mike Yankoski, , author of Under the Overpass

Clever, insightful, and devilishly handsome, Paul Angone offers a book reminiscent of sharing a pint with an old friend. All Groan Up captures the confusion of early adulthood in a beautiful blend of candor and humor. This is a must-read for anyone wondering, Okay, what now? — Jamie Wright, ,

Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! may be the top gift at graduation, but this one should take its place. Writing with bravery and honesty, Paul Angone invites us behind his own search for purpose in a complicated world and shows us that the process is far more important than the destination. If you’re at a crossroads in your own journey, you’ll find his guide a welcome companion. — Wayne Jacobsen, , author of He Loves Me: Learning to Live in the Father’s Affection

Our parents told us when we were children that we could do anything we set our minds to do. Our pastors said that God had a great plan for our lives. But after college, many of us got a sinking feeling that our parents were wrong, and we suspected our pastors were too. All Groan Up is a funny, hopeful, honest autobiography of a generation of people who feel their lives have too much potential and not enough purpose. — Matt Appling, , author of Life after Art

For anyone wrestling with the provocative questions of “Who am I?” and “What am I going to do with who I am?” All Groan Up is a must-read. I encourage you to join Paul in his discovery of one of life’s best-kept secrets, namely, that you can choose your future. — Raymond Rood, , CEO, The Genysys Group



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