Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes was a pleasant surprise. A year as an extrovert? That’s not what I expected when I first read the synopsis.
According to Shonda Rhimes, being an introvert, saying no to many opportunities, and focusing solely on her job have all contributed to her success and accolades.
Shonda was happier in the pantry than with people when she was three, and that was still true when she was 43. But Shonda wasn’t happy with her life as an adult. She had a number of successful TV shows and three wonderful daughters, but she felt like she was missing something.
“Saying ‘no’ has gotten me here…’here’ sucks. Saying ‘yes’ might be my way to someplace better. If not a way to someplace better, at least a way to someplace different.”
Now that she is successful, but she is not as happy, she feels that perhaps the reason she is not as happy as she anticipated being is that she has shut herself up in the closet for too long.
She says the following:
“You know what happens when all of your dreams come true? Nothing. I realized a very simple truth: that success, fame, having all my dreams come true would not fix or improve me, it wasn’t an instant potion for personal growth.”
So she comes to the conclusion that the solution is to quit shutting herself away in her “pantry” and saying no to everything and instead start coming out of the “pantry” and accepting whatever she invitation is offered and say yes to everything for a year.
“Say yes? There’s no way to plan. There’s no way to hide. There’s no way to control this. Not if I am saying yes to everything. Yes to everything scary. Yes to everything that takes me out of my comfort zone. Yes to everything that feels like it might be crazy. Yes to everything that feels out of character. Yes to everything that feels goofy. Yes to everything. Everything. Say yes. Yes.”
She goes on to say:
“Saying yes . . . saying yes is courage. Saying yes is the sun. Saying yes is life.”
If you’re an introvert, you probably answer “no” a lot. No to events that draw large crowds, no to parties, no to appearing on television, no to too many invitations to speak at conferences, no to attending glamorous parties, no to being a guest on talk shows, and no to anything else that drains your energy.
As an introvert, crowds drain your energy. It doesn’t mean you hate people, it just means while others want to go to an after-party, you just want to go home.
So I congratulate Shonda for taking on this issue of living an extroverted life. It was daring, she is brave.
Her life was altered! I liked that she was honest. A private person’s full openness is admirable.
The book is however repetitive and rambles on and on a bit, but it’s her story. It was honest, revealing, and engaging.
I agree with what she says about happiness:
“Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.”
Live your life by being who you actually are, not who you think you are supposed to be.
I can relate to Shonda’s introvert challenges, I just don’t think I could survive a year of saying yes to everything, not to everything, maybe yes to some things, but definitely not everything.
Using Shonda’s analogy, if saying yes is the sun, then saying no must be the moon. The moon is one of my favourite natural phenomena.
Why did I like the book? I’m an introvert. Shonda’s words resonate. Having said that, I think her television shows [Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal] are more badass than the book.
Although the book has a fantastic storyline, it didn’t go deep enough for me. Like many celebrities, Shonda comes across as a bit too self-indulgent in the book, but like she says she is badass and she can back it up, that’s fantastic for her.
The book has a number of valuable gems.
- “Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral. Pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.”
- “When you sit down to write every day, it becomes easier and easier to tap into that creative space inside your mind.”
- “Losing yourself does not happen all at once. Losing yourself happens one “no” at a time.”
- “Shonda, how do you do it all? The answer is this: I don’t. Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means that I am failing in another area of my life.”
- “Volunteer some hours. Focus on something outside yourself. Devote a slice of your energies toward making the world suck less every week.”
- “It’s not bragging if you can back it up,” I whisper to myself in the shower every morning. That is my favorite Muhammad Ali quote. If you ask me, Ali invented modern-day swagger.”