Living in Shondaland

“I would be eating a whole bucket of fried chicken right this very minute if I thought I could still fit into these pants afterward. If I was still okay with being dead inside. The thing is? I’m not. I’m not okay with being dead inside at all.” 

My disclaimer for this review is that, before reading the first page, the only Shonda Rhimes show that I was invested in was Grey’s Anatomy. I was behind ten seasons, but had just gotten a Netflix account. Season 13 was premiering on ABC and I was in the middle of season 3.

I have always admired Shonda at a distance. African-American female writer with a whole night dedicated to her characters? #Goals for sure. My mother loved How to Get Away with Murder and made me watch with her. After a few episodes, I finally decided to start reading the book.

The premise of Year of Yes is that, even with all of her success, Shonda felt out of place. She turned down a lot of personal interviews or things that would put her in the spotlight instead of her characters and realized one day that she wasn’t genuinely living her life (with the help of one of her sisters). So she pledged to say yes to every opportunity that came her way for a year.

Without giving too much away, Shonda went through a process of accepting herself and others and truly confronting things and fears that she had held on to for so long. I think the biggest attraction to this book is relating myself to Shonda. You don’t have to be a writer to get all of the amazing nuggets from this book, but I think it was a special kind of connection that I felt to her. Her childhood, her journey through life to where she is now and how her internal battle had not been displayed through her external success was all something I could deeply relate to.

“As Papa Pope told his daughter Olivia: ‘You have to be twice as good to get half as much…’ I didn’t want half. I wanted it all. And so I worked four times as hard. I never wanted to look at myself in the mirror and say that I didn’t try as hard as I could to make these shows work. That I didn’t give 100 percent to leave a legacy for my daughters and for all the young women of color out there who wondered what was possible”

Her year of yes was filled with so many things we all deal with on a daily basis. The things we sweep under the rug and let fester until the rotting smell becomes too much? Shonda decided to  deal with those. She held no punches in the expectations and how each conflict she shared ended. The rawness of a writer is very refreshing.

“You should get to eat that whole cake. Yes. You should. And you can. You can eat the whole delicious cake. You just have to accept that it will make your belly fat. And that is okay. But then do not complain about having a fat belly.

This was probably the most thought provoking quote to me. We want to complain about things so bad without taking responsibility for the action that caused it. If we are okay with our actions, we have to be okay with the consequence.

If you haven’t read Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes…do it now!

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