Anyone who knows me knows I love to read. I come from a family of readers. Seriously, I don’t know anyone in my family who doesn’t read. One of my favorite childhood memories is my mom and I visiting a local used book store on Saturday mornings. It was the coolest place because you could trade in your old books for new books. That store is long gone, but a new similar concept store has taken over my life. Anytime I’m looking for a particular book, 2nd & Charles is my first stop. A particular book I’ve been looking for is The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and after months of searching, I finally found the book.
I was not disappointed, by this captivating book. If anything, I was inspired. For anyone still living in a cave, Shonda Rhimes is a brilliant writer and her shows occupy the entire primetime Thursday night lineup on ABC, better known as TGIT. The creator of Meredith, Olivia, and Annalise, women we’ve come to admire were birthed in the mind of an insecure, overweight, introverted women from Chicago. Shonda addresses all of her many issues in The Year of Yes with such honesty and simplicity, you would think the two of you were hanging out on the couch with a glass of wine in your PJs. I felt like she was speaking directly to me.
The basic premise of the book is Shonda was a very serious career minded women who was trying to balance her hit TV shows with motherhood. She was challenged by a close relative when she was told that she never said yes to anything. So, she began a year- long challenge to say yes to each and every opportunity she encountered. I believe initially she thought she would be challenged only in her professional life. She quickly realized that she’d shut down in all areas of her life. As it turns out her year of yes became a new way of living for her.
While reading this book, I saw myself in every word of every line of every page. I’ve done the foolish 20s and now in my late 30s, I’ve settled into a routine lifestyle. I’m a rule follower and a bit of a perfectionist so I’m the responsible person that everyone expects to keep everything on track. I make things look easy and effortless, as if I’ve been down this road before. In reality, I am a perfecting introvert with social anxiety. Basically, I’m a ball of nerves on the edge of jumping all of the time with a conflicting desire to be social but an overwhelming feeling of emotions when forced to do so. I honestly never paid attention to my emotions the way I do now. For years, I walked around completely numb. It’s easier for me to deal with life’s battles that way. Then one day I could no longer hide my emotions and it all came crashing down. I’ve put myself back together but the pieces have changed shape so parts of me are much bigger than they once were. The more I become in tune with my person the more I realize the emotional effects of life in general. I know when I’m entering a depressed state, I can feel it. It usually follows stressful periods. During the stressful periods, I don’t sleep, my scalp begins to flake, and my stomach becomes unstable. As I sit right now, my scalp is on fire and looks like someone poured a bag of flour on it. While I see the signs, the hardest part is to stop myself before this phase goes too far. I know what happens when things get out of control. I take to my bed and eat until I’m sick. I want to learn to love freely, I want to be spontaneous, I want to not be afraid to share my soul, my fears and my dreams. I want to travel with no inhibitions. All of these things require one important action… saying yes to releasing the need to always be perfect and saying yes to living life as me, all of me, with no filter and no apologies. I’m a little odd, I know this. I’m actually a rich hipster without the rich part. I’m sitting in a coffee house sipping on a latte and typing away at this moment. I’ve always had people comment about my oddities and occasionally it does bother me not to be able to share my experiences with people who like the same things I do. I’ve been whining about this for a while, but the whining stops now because it’s all my fault.
A friend of mine told me sometimes you have different friends for different things and she’s right. I have some wonderful friends, but not all of them enjoy the things I like to do. I love the outdoors, plays, music concerts, and museums, but some of my friends don’t so I need to say yes to branching out and meeting people who enjoy these activities. Not that my other friends aren’t there for me, they just don’t meet those particular needs. I’m sure they have needs that I can’t meet either. So, my first yes is going to be saying yes to making a new friend.
I’m going to say yes to being more open to new people. I’m going to open my mouth and say hello with a smile when I meet someone rather than a quick hello and then looking away. I already have a prospect so I’m going to do something that gives me extreme anxiety, I’m going to ask her if she would like to meet for drinks after work. Am I nervous about the possibility of her saying no? Yes. Am I nervous about that fact that she might think I’m strange or peculiar? Yes. But what if none of those things happen, maybe, just maybe we hit it off. Maybe we become friends or at the very least acquaintances that get together from time to time. What I do know for sure is that if I don’t make an effort, I’ll never know. So, I’m going to say yes to being more friendly in 2017. Wish me luck!!