I just finished Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, and it took me all of a week to do so. I probably could’ve sat down and read it in a couple days if it weren’t for those pesky responsibilities like classes, running errands, walking the dog…But the point is, IT WAS EVERYTHING!
I read this book at just the right time, as I’m just starting my own “year of yes” of sorts. It’s not really the same thing, but I decided to make the end of my twenties a journey to the start of my thirties, and I set some benchmarks for myself. So really, it’s nothing at all like Shonda’s “year of yes,” except in the regard of saying ‘yes’ to myself more often–as in prioritizing myself and the things I want and need.
But one of these benchmarks is to read 30 books by 30, all Black women authors, hence the title of this post (I should probably go back and write something about Book 1, because it too was excellent).
Anyway, I know I’m late to the party, but if anyone else is later than me and you haven’t read this book yet, go get a copy now! I could probably blather on about this book for pages and pages, because as an introverted, nerdy, thoughts-running-a-mile-a-minute Black girl, I felt like this book was written for me…Shonda Rhimes was in my head writing my thoughts.
The way she wrote this book felt like sitting in a room with your girlfriends talking. She writes the way me and my best friend would talk to each other: every rhetorical question, every repetition of the same phrase in order to emphasize your point, all the internal dialogues had during awkward encounters.
At every page I was like, Shonda gets me! (Side note: I don’t usually fan-girl, but I want to be besties with Shonda Rhimes. I want to sit in a room and just chat about nothing and everything.)
But also, what I loved about this book was having an inside look at the genius that created Grey’s Anatomy, which is one of the only television shows I could watch every single episode of from start to finish and then start all over again, and not get tired of. And that’s saying a lot, because I don’t really re-watch things.
Learning how characters and storylines were developed from her personal quirks, aspirations, and thoughts made it so much clearer why I love her shows. I’d just accepted that I was a little bit (very much so) strange given that I imagine everyone at Grey/Sloan hospital to be my actual friend; that I swear Christina & Meredith’s relationship is friend goals: someone who will be my person, who can relate to my ‘dark and twisty,’ who will dance it out with me when it gets to be too much, who will remind me to stand in the sun…or rather, that I am the sun. Their power monologues were my power monologues; Christina’s “badassery” was (and still is) personal goals.
Anyway, let me stop, because like I said, I could go on and on. I dog-eared so many pages and passages that rang so true that it was as if I were hearing an uninhibited version of me talking to me: her reminiscing about the intense and solo games of make believe as a child, her spinning of reality to be something she wanted it to be even though it was anything but, her randomly timed and highly inappropriate outbursts when the inner dialogue slips into actual dialogue, her lived paradox of being highly insecure in her personal life but very confident in the quality of her professional work, her unconventional beliefs and fear of ridicule hindering her living her best life, her ability to do amazing things but inability to acknowledge how amazing–how badass–they truly are…
Shonda was talking about my life. I didn’t appreciate it. But I totally appreciated it!
Needless to say, I took away a lot from reading this book. From feeling completely validated in my slight obsession with Grey’s characters/plot lines, to feeling invigorated to apply some of these nuggets she discovered in her ‘year of yes’ to my own life and my own journey to 30, and every year after that.
The number one long-term goal: Badassery. Excuse me while I go stand in Wonder Woman pose…
1. (noun) the practice of knowing one’s own accomplishments and gifts, accepting one’s own accomplishments and gifts and celebrating one’s own accomplishments and gifts; 2. (noun) the practice of living life with swagger: SWAGGER (noun or verb) a state of being that involves loving oneself, waking up “like this” and not giving a crap what anyone else thinks about you. Term first coined by William Shakespeare. (p. 195)
Badassery, I’m discovering, is a new level of confidence–in both yourself and those around you. I now feel like I can see so many amazing things about myself and the people around me. It’s as if before, by hiding and worrying and being unahppy, I was not looking at the people around me and seeing how truly gifted and amazing they are There was certainly nothing in me that could have been positive and uplifting or inspiring to them. Not when I was so busy hiding and trying to be smaller and a nothing.
I’ve started to think we are like mirrors. What you are gets reflected back to you. What you see in yourself, you may see in others, and what others see in you, they may see in themselves.
Or it’s stupid.
Whatever it is, it still all comes down to Wonder Woman. You stand like that, in that pose, and after a while, you start to feel like Wonder Woman and people start to look at you and SEE Wonder Woman and oddly, that makes them feel better when they are around you.
People like being around whole, healthy, happy people. (p. 201)
-Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes