Sometimes, the perfect book comes along at just the right time, and all you can do is thank the universe for giving you that book exactly when you needed it. For me, that book was Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis. I happened to be working on a personal goal when I decided to pick up this particular ARC, and next thing I knew, I was taking this book around everywhere I went, dipping into it whenever I needed a break or an energy boost to work on my goal, and thinking about all the people in my life to whom I wanted to gift this book for Christmas. I took a pen around with me wherever I went, just so I could underline passages that really spoke to me. Now, my copy is somewhat weather-worn, scribbled on and coffee-stained, but it’s all so worth it, and I’m sure I’ll end up adding more marks to it every time I re-read.
Rachel Hollis’ premise is simple: women spend too much time apologizing for our dreams. She gives the all-too-relatable example of how she used to minimize her own passion project — her website and social media work to inspire women to live their best life — as just a hobby when the reality was that she was already tracking thousands of followers and generating a lot of income. As women, we’re brought up to believe our worth lies in our value to other people — as a mother, daughter, sister, employee and so on — and Hollis says we need to own our dreams and assert our right to our own happiness.
It doesn’t seem like a super radical concept. Lots of self-help books cover similar themes. But Hollis’ writing style really spoke to me — she sounds conversational and excited, as if we’re just really good friends having coffee and she’s encouraging me to pursue the goals I’ve always dreamed of but kept pushing off to the side in favour of ‘real life’.
I also love that Hollis acknowledges that reality doesn’t always make it easy to follow your dreams. Possibly your reality is that you’re working three jobs to make ends meet. Or that you’re dealing with a screaming newborn baby and can’t just take time when you feel like it to train for that marathon. Hollis acknowledges these potential barriers, and encourages us to carve out whatever me-time we can, in a way that works for us. She also reminds us that we are worth a little me-time, and more importantly, that we do have the right to prioritize ourselves.
I’ve also come across a lot of self-help techniques on goal-setting, and I must say that again, Hollis’ version really resonated with me. She suggests setting a routine for yourself to focus on achieving your goal, whatever that may be, and then thinking of that routine like having a coffee date with Chris Hemsworth. If you had such a coffee date, you likely would keep it come hell or high water, and only a major emergency would drag you kicking and screaming away. Even if you’re tired or feeling lazy, you’ll likely still drag yourself out of bed to keep that date. And even if someone asks you for a last minute favour that conflicts with that date, you will likely say no unless circumstances are extremely dire. At least, that’s Hollis’ premise, and I can definitely attest it works for me. While working on my personal goal, I did experience moments where I was tired and wanted to put it off, or when I just wanted to stay in bed and cuddle with my cats. In those moments, thinking “coffee with Chris Hemsworth” actually did help me get out of bed and focus. Not because I manage to fool myself into thinking I actually did have a date with Chris Hemsworth, but because it is a tangible, concrete reminder of how important my goal — or rather, my commitment to myself — is to me.
Hollis’ approach isn’t perfect. The rah-rah-balls-to-the-wall approach, for example, won’t work if you’re going through a mental health experience, or if because of everything in your life, you physically don’t have the energy to work on your goal. And if you aren’t sure what you want to accomplish for yourself, you may want to take a moment to reflect on that before jumping in full throttle. But for me, the most important takeaway from this book is that, as women, we spend so much time and energy prioritizing other people’s needs, when we have every right — and in fact, every obligation — to prioritize ourselves and our hopes, dreams, secret wishes, every bit as much, if not more.
Unfortunately, Girl, Stop Apologizing doesn’t come out until March 2019 — I was so excited I couldn’t wait to post this — but Hollis does have a book out now Girl, Wash Your Face. I haven’t read that one yet, but if it’s anywhere as good as this one, I’d highly recommend checking it out. And just to get you in the mood to go forth and live the life you want without apology, here’s a video I love, of Keala Settle singing “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman.
Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.