No matter what I heard about this book, I was going to read it. “Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person.” Why not? It’s written by, Shonda Rhimes.
Now, let me be honest. Sometimes it felt like I was in the scene of Scandal. Listening to Olivia Pope tell her gladiators to get their lives. You know? That fast-paced narrative she uses at times to drive home a point. It often makes me wonder — who talks like that? Probably only the people in ShondaLand. But it didn’t make me put the book down. I actually was intrigued by Rhimes funny and sometimes candid memoir, despite the overelaborate moments.
The infamous writer has a life other writers would die for. The Dartmouth College alumna was a movie writer before transitioning into writing for television. Where she became the creator and award-winning producer of television shows such as,”Grey’s Anatomy“, “Scandal” and “How to get away with Murder.” Just to name a few. Respected for her work, she receives endless invites to high-profile parties. She’s always wanted for interviews and speeches. Although she’s a single mom of three, she has an abundance of support. From her family, friends and her nanny, name Jenny McCarthy. Who tells Rhimes, she’s her nanny too. It must be nice to have a nanny who takes care of you and the children. And when it comes to romance, it doesn’t look like she’s lacking in that department either. It seems like she has it all together. And if you let her tell it, she does. Until she discovers none of her accomplishments has rid her of her social anxiety. Leaving her feeling miserable, hiding from the world, with a glass of wine and her thoughts.
One day she tried to impressed her older sister with her list of achievements. Her sister who seemed unamused changed the subject to, why Rhimes does not have fun anymore. Which made Rhimes uncomfortable. “My life is great. I mean, look around! Look! I’m… happy. Ish. I’m happyish. Kind of,” she said. Then she tried to end the conversation with, “whatever.” But her sister got the last word and said, “You never say yes to anything.”
Those six words planted in her subconscious would eventually explode like a “grenade.” Rhimes explains that she found herself restless. Wondering why she don’t say yes more often. And that’s the beginning of her journey.
She began to say yes to everything, speaking engagements, parties, interviews. Those things that Rhimes would usually find a “brilliant” excuse for, she forced herself to do. Even when it scared her to death. Or at the least, she thought somehow death would follow. Along with a “snotty nose”and her “pooping” on herself. Yeah. I said poop. The things that an introvert can think of. She really does have quite of an imagination. Which made things a bit difficult for her to always say yes. So, she learned to do it on her own terms. Her courage gave her a sense of empowerment, that began to change the person she was. In the process, she found herself saying a few no’s, to things and people who got in her way of saying yes to herself. This would often ruin some relationships, but it always seemed worth it. As Rhimes discovered life and how to live it instead of merely existing in it.
It’s always refreshing to read a life changing, self-discovery story. Especially when the writer draws you in by calling you “dear reader.” Or, interrupts your flow with a few elements of surprise. It’s an inspiring, motivational memoir for the person who’s an introvert.
So, I bought the book for my friend, who I noticed never say yes to anything either. I can just imagine her reading this book and begin to get the “Super Woman” stance. She would begin to dance to her own tune and not worry about what others thought. I can’t wait to see her come out of her shell, and stop hiding from the world. Now if this book can do that, I would call it the #1 self-help book of the year. However, if not, I still consider it a great read. For introverts, or those who just feel stuck. Maybe you have not found your “six magic words,” to help you get out of your FUNK. This book might help you realize all you need is one word, YES.
By Shonda Rhimes
Simon & Schuster. 311 pp. $24.99