Takeaways | Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

A pair of legs with deep brown skin are crossed with fuzzy gray house shoes on. The subject is holding the book "Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person" by Shonda Rhimes. It has a sky blue cover with red letters and gold trim.

If you’re anything like me- you peruse the personal development aisle of the bookstore A LOT. I grab inspiration from just reading the titles, I swear! Then I buy ’em, read ’em, and feel massively disappointed at the repetitive advice that I could’ve gotten by just calling my mom. Besides- I’m a fiction girl through and through, so I was very hesitant to buy + read this one. I mean pick-it-up-and-put-it-down-so-many-times-over-a-two-year-span-they-almost-just-gave-it-to-me hesitant. But in true Shonda Rhimes fashion, this book sucked me in and 15 seaso- CHAPTERS later I came up for air.

This book is full of nuggets of wisdom, humor, and that sweet, sharp-witted Shonda Rhimes voice. If you’ve ever watched a show that came from the Shondaland brain palace, you’ll recognize it the moment you start reading! The book paces itself a lot like an episode from *insert Shonda Rhimes produced/written show title here*- I’m serious. It’s quick, then it slows down for narrative, then BAM! Action. It’s such a fun and invigorating read. That’s as much of a review as I’ll give for books like this because they’re so deeply personal. Instead- here are 10 things I took away from the book.

  1. This book is for everyone. It has moments where it is black woman-centric for obvious reasons. Read it anyway. The world could use a closer, more honest look inside the brain of a black woman. Even if you don’t gather any inspiration from her words (don’t worry- you will), you’ll have perspective.
  2. Completing a Year of Yes is not a one-year contract, it’s a taste of a lifestyle. Shonda Rhimes does not go into her year of yes knowing this, but she certainly realizes it when the year is well past over and she’s still doing it. We all have our ways of doing this, right? We’re gonna stop drinking for 30 days. We’re gonna go to the gym for 2 weeks straight just to see how it feels? Come on, y’all! Deep down we already know what’s good for us, which leads to my next point:
  3. Change requires you to be uncomfortable, and being uncomfortable sucks. Duh. We know this. This is why we have to gameify this stuff to get started. And no shame, Mary Jane! Whatever it takes, am I right? We convince ourselves that the discomfort will end after a certain amount of time, but the reality is that we will become accustomed to it if we do it for long enough. I mean- look at all the self destructive behavior we take part in that we’re soooo used to. (okay, that was shade- I’ll stop) It’s like breaking in a pair of jeans. We try on this new idea/way of life and wiggle around, jump up and down, and figure out how us and this new pair of jeans are going to live in harmony. And because I love an extended metaphor-
  4. Sometimes the problem isn’t the jeans. We commit to these exercises in resilience and all of a sudden we’re seeing a therapist and talking about our childhood or that shitty ex that we put up with for so long. Hell- sometimes WE are the shitty ex (not you, of course, you’re an angel ;)). Changing things up can uncover all sorts of things that we have been shoving into the deep dark of our minds. You could get to the end of this thing and realize that your old jeans were fine, but BOY did those shoes need to go.
  5. Some of you do not need to read chapter 8. It is about the body. There is weight loss talk and let me just confirm for you right now- you will not miss the point of the book if you skip it. If body dysmorphia/any type of eating disorder is a thing in your life, I am giving you permission right now to SKIP. IT. This is your official trigger warning.
  6. Community is everything. We need good, honest community that we can also be good and honest to (because yes to reciprocation!!). We are animals. We are built to coexist. And SOMETIMES we get some good pressure from our friends and they hold us accountable AND LOOK, NOW WE HAVE A BESTSELLING BOOK. Okay- maybe not, but it’s possible, right?
  7. Examine your relationships. It is so easy for us to project how we feel or what we want on our community. It makes it easy for us to find common ground. Now- I’m all for common ground- yay! BUT this can be hard on relationships where we are only seeing the common ground that we have found instead of enjoying the fullness of the relationship.
  8. THIS IS FOR MY LADIES/FEMME QUEERS/NON BINARY FOLX. Take that compliment. Period. “Thank you” is a complete sentence just like “no” is.
  9. Difficult conversations are the bread and butter of life. Confrontation gets such a bad rap, but when handled carefully- it can be so so good. Imagine a necklace all tangled up. Work at it, observe the places where it is tangled, and loosen the knots slowly and VOILA! Tug on it aggressively and you’re left shaking with frustration.
  10. Being scared is an excuse. BEFORE YOU JUMP ON ME, yes- I know there are plenty of things that are terrifying that you should absolutely stay away from. I hope you have the judgement skills to tell the difference between the two. If not- see #6. 😉 Seriously, though- fear is motivated by all sorts of things that we can’t always pinpoint right away. Spend some time and maybe say “yes” to fear.

That’s all I’ve got for you! I highly recommend reading this book- so much so that I’ve got a link ready for ya!

Purchase it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Half Priced Books | Audible

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