On The Rocky Road To Adulthood, Illustrator Asks 'Am I There Yet?' Mari Andrew's collection of short essays and cartoons chronicle what life has shown her. "I think when I decided to be a writer, I kind of signed up for a life of interesting experiences," she says.

On The Rocky Road To Adulthood, Illustrator Asks 'Am I There Yet?'

On The Rocky Road To Adulthood, Illustrator Asks 'Am I There Yet?'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/596093789/596647575" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Mari Andrew is the dark-haired woman in black glasses, both in real life and in the cartoons she draws for her Instagram account. She illustrates what she learns as she goes along — about loss, love and trying to grow up by the time you're 30 and accused of being an adult.

In Am I There Yet?: The Loop-De-Loop, Zigzagging Journey To Adulthood, Andrew has produced a book of cartoons, short essays, and pointed observations drawn — in all ways — from a couple of difficult years.

"During a tough break-up, I also experienced the loss of my father and found myself at sort of a rock-bottom place, which is a place where you often begin to think about what you really want in life," Andrew says. "And at the same time, I realized that I was the only person who was in charge of my happiness. And so I went on a crusade to make myself happy, and one of the things that I did everyday was do a little watercolor drawing."

Interview Highlights

On what her Washington, D.C. apartment catching fire taught her to appreciate

That was mundanity and the beautiful feeling of being at home somewhere. I've wandered around a lot in my life. I grew up in Seattle, went to school in Chicago, moved to South America right after college, lived in Baltimore as well. Never thought that I would find home anywhere, and I didn't really like living in D.C. because it was a time of life that's kind of hard for people — mid-20s. I didn't have a straight-arrow career path, didn't have the love of my life, didn't have quite everything that I wanted. But I had a really beautiful set of neighbors, and I had a beautiful daily routine. And after the trauma of being in a fire, I grew to really treasure those daily experiences.

Andrew says her experiences have taught her to treasure daily moments. Mari Andrew hide caption

toggle caption
Mari Andrew

On if she's discovered a quick route through grief

When I was first experiencing it, this little rhyme from pre-school kept coming into my head: "You can't go under it, you can't go over it, you have to go through it." And I knew that time was the only thing that was going to carry me through, and how I was going to fill that time would have a lot to do with what it looked like on the other side. So keeping myself happy and social and having moments of my day to both reflect and find some happiness for myself were key to getting through those many, many stages, which continue to unfold.

"I like 'She enjoyed herself.' That's what I'm aiming for," Andrew says. Mari Andrew hide caption

toggle caption
Mari Andrew

"I like 'She enjoyed herself.' That's what I'm aiming for," Andrew says.

Mari Andrew

On what she wishes she'd known sooner about romance

Dating has been such a beautiful experience for me. I don't think anyone, as a child, thinks, "Oh, when I grow up, I want to not really know what I want to do in life, or not find the love of my life in my 20s." But getting to explore different parts of myself through living different places, trying different careers, and also getting to know different people romantically, has been such a wonderful way to get to know myself better, get to know the world better, get to have more insights into the world. And I think that I would just give myself permission to keep exploring and not feel like I had to have it figured out so young.

Samantha Balaban and Barrie Hardymon produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Sydnee Monday adapted it for the Web.