This week I had chosen the Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes because, like this challenge of reading a book a week, another New Years Resolution of mine is to say yes more. I saw this book on audible.com and, because of my love for inspirational autobiographical audiobooks, I knew I had to download it. I’ve already listened to books such as Bossypants by Tina Fey, Yes, Please by Amy Poehler, and #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso, so I was eager to start this new book. It was different from the others I had read because it was based on a simple experiment Shonda Rhimes, writer of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, had created for herself. The experiment?
Say yes for an entire year.
Rhimes spent an entire year saying yes to every opportunity thrown at her, including interviews, speeches, and even a weight loss journey. This challenge she set for herself completely inspired me to set one for myself. For my 2016, the word “No” seemed to be my catchphrase. “Want to go to a concert?” a friend would ask, which would usually cause me to say, “No. I have a lot of homework and haven’t been sleeping too well.” While homework always is a priority, I can assure you I definitely wasn’t doing homework. And the reason I wasn’t sleeping well usually had to do with a Harry Potter movie marathon. I honestly looked a lot like this in front of the TV instead:
I love my comfort zone, but I also knew I was becoming far too withdrawn. Being in my early twenties, spending every single weekend in my room watching Frasier on TV seems a bit unhealthy. Scratch that; it seems tragic. So I decided 2017 was the year I needed to work on leaving my comfort-zone and try to say yes to every opportunity I could (every safe opportunity, that is). And Rhimes’ book truly impacted me already. But let’s get into the book before I begin spilling about my week.
Year of Yes was truly an incredible book for anyone seeking a change or inspiration. As a college student on my last year, this book came at the perfect time. Rhimes’ book was full of heart-warming moments, powerful speeches, and a ton of hilarious and unexpected jokes that kept her incredibly easy to relate to. Her journey wasn’t just about living life to the fullest, but it was also about building up her own self-confidence. Rhimes learned, by saying yes to things that terrified her, she could began to build as a person. She was living life and not just existing in it.
If you’re feeling stuck in life, afraid to move forward, or absolutely lost with no map, I cannot suggest this book enough. I never would have thought this book would have impacted me so drastically. I originally told myself I was going to listen to just half an hour of the seven-hour audiobook. Just half an hour. But half an hour became two and a half hours and I found myself laughing along with her struggles. The part where she asks herself “Wine or toilet paper?” when she was too broke to afford both had me almost wiping tears of laughter, though I also knew it was because I related to it. Rhimes’ book was truly inspiring and made me decide to commit to saying yes because I want to know where it’ll lead me.
Now let’s get into where it led me just this past week alone, and it was huge for me…
I started this novel last Sunday, already committing myself to the “Say yes to every opportunity” challenge. I even felt a little giddy to start, wondering when I’ll get to test my challenge. Well, apparently immediately was the answer. I was working out, trying to accomplish my goal of getting fit and the usual in January when, as if my friend had known what I was reading, I get a text from my friend, “Hey, you want to come to this class with me? It starts at 11am.”
I was getting my thumbs ready to type “Sorry, but I’m helping my parents rearrange the furniture.” I was covered in sweat, after all, and it was already 10am. But I looked down at my phone and saw the audiobook shining at me, daring me to say no. So instead of saying no, I told her to send me the address and I’d meet her there. I arrived at precisely 11am and had an amazing time catching up with her and getting to meet several new people. It was insane how giddy I felt when I got home, and it wasn’t even from the event itself. I said yes to something I have said no to many times, and it was a major step for me.
Skip forward a few days and I’m on the couch watching Doctor Who with about three furry animals on me and a third cup of coffee at my side. It was Wednesday, and I was about halfway through the audiobook. My mom asks me if I would drive to a place I used to go to college as well as worked at, a place I hadn’t been in a few years, in order to pick up her books for class. Like the lovely daughter I am, I told her “No way. Everyone knows me there. It’s so awkward.” I didn’t have a bad reputation there, in case you’re wondering. Actually, my reputation was pretty amazing, and I wanted to keep it that way in my head and not corrupt it by going back to that school. At least in my head, everyone still remembered me and my amazing skills of answering phones But as I sat there, panicking about going back, I realized it was an opportunity I must take. As I drove there I listened to the audiobook, and as luck would have it, Rhimes was giving a speech to her old college about the memories she shared there and the feeling of being back. I’m not even kidding, that was the part that I on. It gave me an extra boost of confidence and I strode into the school and was almost instantly greeted by the staff who were thrilled to see me. I bought the books, I grinned and chatted with people I never thought I’d see again, and I sat out in the parking lot in disbelief. I did it. I went back to my school and it wasn’t horrible. It was actually pretty amazing.
Here is another moment where I was convinced cameras were watching me or my friend might be psychic. I had just started my car, audiobook playing, when my friend texts me “Are you in town? Would you like to get a smoothie?” It blew my mind because I’m never in town. While I’m broke AF and even a bottle of water is pricey, I agreed. We met minutes later and then decided to do some grocery shopping afterwards and talk about life and fitness. Afterwards, just an hour later, I get a text from the same friend asking if I wanted to attend a small gathering at her church that night. Exhausted, hangry, but still giddy from my day, I said yes, and I’m so proud of myself for saying it and going with her.
If you think my week stopped there, it honestly didn’t. Friday another friend of mine invited me to hang out with her in the city on Saturday, and I said yes because I knew it’d be a while before I saw her again. While this is something I’ve done before and can’t say much about me earning another gold star, I can say how this book changed the conversation we had. Like some cliched film scene, we sat in a tiny cafe with fancy lattes and spoke about a lot of deep issues and feelings on school. Not going to get into the details, but my friend mentioned how she has been so upset with herself for not accomplishing everything she had hoped she would. I know the feeling. We all know the feeling. But instead of giving my usual speech on how I’m the same way and one day, hopefully, we’ll finally accomplish our goals and be super happy and independent, I told her about the audiobook and my personal goal. “I’m doing a year of yes,” I told her with a massive grin and foam mustache. She immediately burst into laughter at this, “Like Jim Carrey in the movie Yes Man?” I rolled my eyes and shook my head, “Not entirely. I won’t do anything that could put me at risk. But this audiobook by Shonda Rhimes has been inspiring. You need to read it.”
My friend kind of shook that off and we continued talking about our struggles and when she talked about writing a book or a screenplay, I practically bounced in my chair. She said she didn’t want to do it. She’s “Not good at writing” and “has no determination.” I was smiling at her and told her, “You just need to say yes to it. Start with anything. Write a book. Write a blog. Write a screenplay. Join a writing club. Make a YouTube channel and do movies. Post what you want and do it soon.” This is totally not how I normally am with friends. I’m not great with encouraging them or the emotions thing. But I was determined to motivate her the way I felt motivated this week. If I could pass on my tiny bit of wisdom from this audiobook and tell her to say yes to something, I could be her Yoda. Well, maybe not Yoda, but something that helps her with her goals. And if I hadn’t read this book, I doubt I would have even been sitting in front of her as relaxed and peaceful as I was.
5 out of 5
Overall, the book was absolutely amazing. I never found myself bored while listening to it, and I actually struggled with pressing the pause button when I had to take care of something. The book is inspiring, to say the least, and it is perfect for this time of year when you find yourself stuck or lost or a bit down. Shonda Rhimes does a great job of storytelling (as if it weren’t already obvious with her hit shows), and even discusses how she juggles motherhood, two or three TV shows, and her social life. No matter what situation or age you might be, this could definitely benefit your life.
I know my long post about my own life might have been a bit much, but it was something I honestly found exciting for myself. The book Year of Yes was the push I desperately needed in life. I needed someone to say to me “Stop saying no, and stop being so afraid.” I needed someone to tell me a simple solution to my problem of staying in my comfort zone. The solution? Say yes.
For next week’s book, I plan to read Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas because my friend has been pushing me to. This is the first week of a new semester at school, so I wish everyone luck and hope it all goes well! 🙂