Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes fills the “been meaning to read” category (#3 on the book challenge list). In fact, I went from planning to read this, to thinking I might skip it altogether, to devouring it in two days. I absolutely loved this book. Loved it. I know part of why I loved it is because I indulge in Shondaland. Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder are three of my favorite shows. My guilty pleasure in these shows is why I wanted to read the book. What I didn’t know or expect was how empowering and enlightening this book was going to be for me.
In this book Shonda talks about a year of her life in which she started to make more positive decisions for herself. She started saying “Yes” instead of “No.” In that, she shares some really important stories about feminism and equality as well as issues of self-worth and owning your own badassness. I’m really glad I got to read her words on these topics and think about how some of what she talked about applied to me.
Let me give you some context. As most of you know, I used to be a classroom teacher. I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was in gradeschool. I was good at teaching. It came naturally. As a result, I had a decent amount of teacher swagger. I was confident, innovative, and always looking for ways to get better. My desires to get better weren’t because of some doubt in myself or my abilities. It was because I really wanted to always improve. Similarly, that swagger and confidence didn’t come with an attitude of being the best teacher on the planet who couldn’t improve. I knew my strengths and weaknesses. I played to my strengths and looked to others to help with my weaknesses.
Then I went to grad school and slowly but surely, I lost my swagger and confidence in myself. It got to the point where if I was complimented, I almost immediately negated it. I looked at my weaknesses to define me and dismissed strengths as not good enough. I’ve come to think of myself as the weakest link in my program pretty much since I got here. I thought of everyone in my program as superior to me rather than my peers.
So, I’m really going to work on thinking of myself as a badass again. I have strengths. I can do things. I’m not terrible at what I do. Yes, there are people more skilled than me, but that doesn’t discount my skills or my ability to learn or my incredible work ethic. No, I’m not perfect, but I work hard and because of that hard work, I have accomplished a lot. These things are facts, and there is nothing wrong with acknowledging them. In fact, denying them keeps me out of spaces I have worked hard to fill. No one is going to help me fill those spaces. It’s up to me to take them. I’m going to start saying “Yes” in some places I’ve been saying “No” for too long.
All of that introspection to say you should read Shonda’s book. It’s a great read about a really interesting woman.