It was an impulse buy, this book. You could say I finally said yes to something as I threw it in my cart and hustled to the check stand. I wasn’t really prepared for what was in store for me though. The Year of Yes… This book shook me. In the best possible way. Beware introverts, this is how to beautifully and boldly make your own way through an extroverted world.
“You Never Say Yes to Anything!”
That’s what Shonda’s sister said to her one Thanksgiving Day that set everything in motion. “You never say yes to anything.” It’s hard to hear but I could relate because I’ve been told the same thing. As an introvert, I tend to shy away from anything outside of my routine or anything involving a lot of people. I certainly stay away from situations that will put me at the center of attention.
From childhood, I kind of built this protective shell around me that made me feel safe. Safe. That one word sums up the better part of my life. It’s why I found Shonda’s childhood play space, the pantry, so relatable. It’s also why I found her journey into an extroverted world so empowering. And horrifying, if I’m honest. It’s not comfortable. It’s empowering.
When Shonda declared her Year of Yes and decided she would say to whatever is asked of her, I thought she was crazy. I thought she was a secret extrovert. Because, honestly, that’s not something an introvert does. I mean, I can’t do that. I can’t. Right? Why is she ruining this for me?
Nonetheless, she does it. And in true Shonda style, she fucking rocks it.
Her year of yes turned into a lifetime. These seven things she said yes to are what every introvert needs to embrace to thrive in an extroverted world. It is possible. And it is time.
Yes to the Sun
“She’s learned not to settle. She’s learned, as difficult as it is, how to be her own sun.”
The she is Christina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy. But it’s all of us. It’s every one of us who at some point thought we needed someone else to light our way. But once you realize that you’re a badass in your own right, with your own incredible thoughts and ideas, you realize it’s within you where your power lies. Harness it. Own it. Say yes to the sun.
Yes to Speaking the Whole Truth
“If I am going to say YES… I might as well say yes to being me.”
I know this part is supposed to be inspiring. But there is a huge part of me that is riffled with fear. See, I’m a huge people pleaser. I’m a professional. I know what people want to hear and I am damn good at saying it. So, to speak the whole TRUTH? To say yes to being ME? Well, I don’t know about that. I’m 100% sure that the truth isn’t always what people want to hear and the real me isn’t always what they want to see.
Ah, but the sun. I am reminded, to say yes to the sun. And in doing so, am freed to also say yes to being me and speaking the whole truth. My truth.
Yes to Surrendering the Mommy War
“I’ve read a lot of books written by and about working women and I’m struck by the fact that no one ever seems to want to talk about having help at home.”
I’ll be honest, I don’t have kids yet, so I almost skipped over this chapter in the book. But I am so glad I didn’t. It’s not just about having kids – as you’ll see in her rant about how she loved Whitney Houston’s hair style so much in high school she spent hours every morning battling with a curling iron, only to find out decades later that even Whitney couldn’t get her own hair to look like that. It was a wig.
You see, when people speak their own truth – when they get honest about having help with the kids or wearing a wig or whatever it is that makes you appear more perfect than you are – it allows others the freedom to live their own truth, too. It removes the shame and stigma of those who don’t have it all together. Because, spoiler alert, no one has it all together. No one.
Yes to Play
“The more I play, the happier I am at work. The happier I am at work, the more relaxed I become. The more relaxed I become, the happier I am at home. It’s really just love. We could all use a little more love.”
As a straight-laced, serious introvert (okay, it’s not that bad), I often find it hard to let go of the to-do list or the schedule and just play. To actually put everything else aside – the phone, my email, work – and be in the moment. Whether it’s playing with your kids, enjoying something for yourself, or going out with friends, allowing yourself to play is so powerful. And it affects everything else you do in a positive way. So go for it. Say yes to play.
Yes to My Body
“Losing yourself doesn’t happen all at once. Losing yourself happens one no at a time. No to going out tonight. No to catching up with that old college roommate. No to making a new friend. Losing yourself happens one pound at a time.”
Like Shonda, I’m a total emotional eater. I like to put food on top of my feelings and pretend they aren’t there. And I prefer to do that at home, with no one else around. And so it becomes easy, comfortable, to say no to going out or picking up the phone, or meeting new people. I’d rather stay home in my safe little bubble and eat. Until you look up one day, years later, and wonder how you got here.
Saying yes to my body requires some digging and mindset shifting and deciding that I want something better more than I want something safe. But it’s a good yes. It’s an empowering and determined yes.
Yes to No
“When I got to this yes, the desire not to be a doormat…”
Wait. I thought this was the year of yes. Why are we now saying no? Well, we’re not. We’re saying yes to saying no. (See what I did there?) I was unsure but I went with it. And soon I began to understand that it wasn’t contrary to the year of yes, it was a deeper uncovering of myself. It was saying yes to the desire not to be a doormat.
The people pleaser in me reared its ugly head again. Saying no is what I do when it comes to social invites or standing on stage to speak to large groups of people. It’s never what I say when someone asks for a favor. And therein lies the rub. If I can say yes to myself, I can finally say no to you when I need to.
Yes to Who I am
“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.”
As introverts living in an extroverted world, we’re told over and over again that we need to “be more social” or “get out more”. We’re sent the message over and over that we need to be more like our extroverted counterparts.
Don’t give in. Say yes to who you are. Say yes to living life on your own terms and being unashamedly you.
There are many more things that Shonda says yes to in her book and highly recommend that you pick up a copy today! It’s a wildly entertaining read that will challenge the deepest parts of you.
Have you read the Year of Yes? What did you think? Share in the comments below!