When I started reading Year of Yes I had no idea what I was in for. The title suggests a journey into YESdom where author, Shonda Rhimes, agrees to everything that takes her out of her comfort zone. But this premise alone didn’t excite enough to reel me into a 300 page memoir.
It was the subtitle: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person that had the hook.
And while I knew stories about expressing-yourself-dance-parties in the sun could be a good read, what I wasn’t expecting was to totally relate to Shonda. (I even feel like I can go on a first name basis with her, and she’d be cool with it!)
The woman not only created ShondaLand, she has Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Private Practice, and How To Get Away With Murder under her belt! As she puts it, “I own Thursday night.”
So how do I relate to this major Hollywood player (whose shows I don’t even watch)?
Well, first off she’s a mom.
My kids are not my friends. They are my children. My goal is not to get them to like me. My goal is to raise citizens. My world does not revolve around them. The only helicopter in my life is the toy helicopter that the kids play with.
And she gets angry when someone refers to motherhood as a job.
Being a mother isn’t a job. It’s who someone is. You can quit a job. I can’t quit being a mother. Being a mother redefines us, reinvents us, destroys and rebuild us. Being a mother yanks our hearts out of our bodies and attaches them to our tiny humans, and sends them out in the world, forever hostages. If all of that happened at work, I’d have quit five times already.
But her relatability goes beyond motherhood.
Shonda writes about her fears. Real fears that normal people can have. Like of being out there, being seen. (She hired a publicist to avoid being interviewed.) Her happy place had always been in creating characters rather than having actual human interactions. So she lived in her own world – hiding from life- until her sister prompted the wake up which led to the year of yes.
The book is highly engaging (obviously, the woman owns Thursday night- expect plenty of BTS from her hit shows including several Sandra Oh, Kerry Washington and Ellen Pompeo tales), and despite her preface confession to being a liar (she makes things up for a living, afterall) there’s an honesty to her story which feels tangible. It’s about coming into your own. Saying yes to the life you choose to live. And what that looks like for Shonda isn’t going to be the same for me or you. We need to write our own stories.
Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.
Here’s my takeaway mantra:
I am different. I am an original. And like everyone else, I am here to take up space in the universe. I do so with pride.
Buy the book here.
What are the things you could start saying yes to?