The universe has given us a number of "femoirs" lately, and it's a delight to read the insights, life advice, and wisdom from some of our favorite ladies, including comedy queen Amy Poehler. We were so excited to read her book "Yes Please" with the Mavenly + Co. book club this month, and loved hearing about Amy’s amazing journey to becoming the woman she is today.
If you know and love Amy Poehler from her time on "SNL," many movies, and her hilarious show, "Parks and Recreation," then you’ll love her memoir full of behind-the-scenes stories and tons of real-life advice.
We know that Amy carved out a path for herself in the highly competitive, cutthroat comedy world, landing a role on Saturday Night Live, one of the hardest (and most prestigious) gigs in the industry. Despite her huge successes, Amy tells her story in a way that is so down-to-earth and relatable that you’ll feel like you're having a casual conversation with your best friend. So, we thought we'd share some of our favorite quotes and inspiration from "Yes Please."
“I think we should stop asking people in their twenties what they ‘want to do’ and start asking them what they don’t want to do. Instead of asking students to ‘declare their major’ we should ask students to ‘list what they will do anything to avoid.’ It just makes a lot more sense.”
Amy said that she didn't really know what she wanted to do in high school or in college. But she simply did the things that were interesting and exciting to her. While Amy may not be suggesting that colleges literally stop asking students to declare a major, she is pointing out some great advice. If we are feeling unfulfilled in our careers or relationships or unsure of what’s next, maybe we can start by sitting down and making a list of the things we don’t want to do. What are the jobs/roles/duties we know we don’t ever want to do again? What are the qualities that we know won’t work for us in a future relationship? If we start there, maybe our paths will be a little clearer and we can start taking the first steps toward what we know will make us happy.
“The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing. That is what I know.”
Whether you call it procrastination, analysis paralysis, or over-thinking, we waste so much time on spinning our wheels and not actually doing the thing. Amy admitted that she spent a lot of time stressing about writing her book and got caught up in worrying about it until she realized that the worrying and complaining just got in the way. It’s easy to spend a lot of time worrying or overthinking things that are stressful or important, but sometimes we all need a reminder that it is better to just do the thing. Done is better than perfect.
“'Good for her! Not for me.' That is the motto that women should constantly repeat over and over again.”
Jealousy and the comparison trap are issues that many women struggle with-- including Amy. She hilariously points this out when she talks about giving birth to her son. Amy mentions that her friend Maya Rudolph chose to give birth naturally at home, and even calls her a “baby champion.” But Amy knew that wasn't right for her and refused to feel guilty for not trying to conform to what others may see as the right way to do something. She knew an at-home birth wouldn't work for her, but it did for Maya, and that doesn't make anyone better or right.
“Learn to let go of wanting it. Treat your career like a bad boyfriend...ambivalence is key. You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look.”
When Amy talks about treating your career like a bad boyfriend, she makes some great points about success, and how “wanting it too badly” can actually set you back. She notes the difference between career and your creativity or passion. Our creativity or passion is “the juicy stuff that lubricates our lives and helps us feel less alone in the world. Your creativity is not a bad boyfriend.” So, when she talks about ambivalence, she's suggesting that we avoid the constant striving for success that we sometimes fall into. Success can be a dangerous thing to be motivated by, because it often leaves people wanting more. Amy is encouraging us to be aware of wanting to “make it” so badly, and instead just focus on doing good work that you are passionate about. If you can be happy where you are and work hard, the success will likely follow.
“It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught be sorry for. It takes years to find your voice and seize your real estate.”
The “sorry” conversation is debated a lot these days, and most people would say that women need to stop saying sorry so much. Even Amy admits to saying sorry all the time. But that does not make her a pushover or afraid for standing up for herself. Even so, Amy stresses the importance of finding and owning your voice. There are times when we really have to say sorry, but we never have to apologize for speaking our truth or standing our ground.
If you loved this discussion and want in on the next book club, join us on May 17 for our next read! We will be chatting about about "Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life" by Will Burnett and Dave Evans on Facebook Live at 8 p.m. EST. Be sure to grab a copy and join us!