Book Review: Girl, Stop Apologizing
I've been reading a lot more than I usually do thanks to Covid Quarantine, and my favorite book this month is Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis. I first listened to the audiobook version during my daily walk around my neighborhood. Then I read the e-book version (both free thanks to Hoopla via the Los Angeles Public Library) so that I could take notes and remember the parts that really resonated with me.
Girl, Stop Apologizing is broken up into three parts - Excuses to Let Go Of, Behaviors to Adopt, and Skills to Acquire. It reads conversationally with anecdotes from Rachel's life as a former event planner, a young mother, a wife, and an entrepreneur. The overall premise of the book is simple - to live into your full potential.
There are so many valuable nuggets of information and words of encouragement in this book, but here are my three biggest takeaways:
1. It's ok to not be loved by everyone.
Rachel wrote this on page 8: "I didn't want to give up on my dream of a successful business, but I also didn't want anyone to disapprove of me." This is totally me! I feared disapproval so much that for a period of time, I disabled the thumbs up thumbs down option on my YouTube videos. Seeing even one thumbs down on a video I spent hours making made me upset. I realized that I was a people pleaser, so when someone did not appreciate my work, I took it personally and assumed that they disapproved of me too.
But Rachel goes on to write this on page 15: "It took a ton of personal work and some big realizations for me to get to the root of why I felt the need to live this way, but the gist of it is this: I cared more about being loved by others than I cared about loving myself."
Over the past couple of years, I've experimented with creating different types of videos from media coaching to traveling to talking about KPop. I wanted to make something everyone can like. But by doing so, I realized that I was stretching myself too thin and getting overwhelmed by the amount of content I had to keep up with. And I was starting to care too much about what others may think rather than focusing on what I truly wanted to create. So this was a timely reminder that it's ok to make things not everyone may like. To me, the greatest fulfillment comes from knowing that at least one other person was positively moved by what I had to share. And I'm trying to keep that thought in the forefront of my mind when I film or write stories going forward.
2. Don't let your past determine your future.
"If your past is still affecting your life today in a negative way, holding onto it is not helping you." Rachel wrote this in the section of her book called Excuse 4: I'm Not Enough to Succeed.
My husband observed that I like to think about the past a lot. I often ask him at the end of the day what his favorite part of the day was. I also enjoy recalling memories, mostly happy ones about when I used to work in TV News or when I used to live in Flagstaff, Phoenix or Dallas.
After I became a domestic violence survivor, I noticed that I clung onto these memories to remind myself of who I was. Problem is, that's all in the past. Maybe I haven't fully gotten over my identity crisis after leaving TV News, or I'm trying to convince myself that my best days are now behind me. Whatever the case, thinking about these past scenarios for too long can get depressing. I find myself asking, who am I now? What do I have left to do? And while I'm in that mindset, I sometimes replay the hateful words my domestic violence abuser once spewed at me to let me know how worthless I was. You get through this cycle enough times and it becomes paralyzing. So like Rachel said, I'm learning to think less about my past and focusing on making positive plans for my future.
3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
The Excuse 7 portion of the book called It's Been Done Before leads me to this quote by Rachel: "Stop comparing your beginning to my middle! Or anyone else's for that matter... This isn't a question of whether you can do something well, because really anything can be learned; this is a question of whether you're humble enough to suck for as long as it takes you to become better."
Ouch. Going down the rabbit hole of comparing myself to anyone and everyone is one of my unhealthiest habits. This is why I try not to go on social media at least one hour before I go to bed. Toxic thoughts don't lead to productive behavior. It's only led me to self-doubt and self-hate.
Learning to make videos for an online audience has been one of the most humbling things I've done. I went from telling stories to potentially millions of viewers every day, thanks to being a part of NBC, to nearly zero. I had to build an audience from the ground up in my 30s. There are days when I feel like a dinosaur and just want to give up. But my heart won't stop seeking to tell stories, especially personal stories, and I don't want to waste the skills that I've polished and loved over the past couple of decades.
I'm very well aware that many successful video creators work with a team of people. I don't have that resource. I also know that tech-savvy millennials have an upper hand at following trends or using hashtags. I am not one of them. Still, I've been learning one thing after another and creating my own timeline to keep growing. It's like learning a new language, and I'm reminding myself to be patient.
Right now my biggest task is to better understand SEO. I don't like it, but I'm watching videos and reading articles about how I can implement this in my future blogs and vlogs to better my chances of being seen. Likewise, I'm learning to include music sometimes in my videos because I see popular vloggers doing it. I used to look down at YouTube creators because I thought they weren't professional. Now I watch and study creators who are killing it, who also happen to be teenagers sometimes. I'm learning to cast my pride aside so that I can continue to survive as a storyteller in this digital age.
So I hope this book review gives you a better idea of Rachel Hollis' Girl, Stop Apologizing. If you're on a budget like me, I'd check your local library to see if it's available there too. And if you've got the cash, I think it's worth your investment. Thank you Rachel for motivating me during this Coronavirus Pandemic!