Book Report and More: You Are a Badass

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Here’s another book I started out hating, so I put it down for a good while. It all worked out for the best though, because I picked it up right when I needed it most.

Ooh. It’s trademarked.

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero proved another point, too—you don’t have to buy into everything a self-help book says to benefit from it. I definitely disagree with stuff in the beginning and the whole ending section, but I loved the middle!

I got this book, because it’s the one my work book club selected. When I started out, I was really put off by the tone and all the assumptions the author made about who her readers were. They are most assuredly people who are not me. But then, those people need books, too, right? It’s meant for people in their twenties and thirties, from what I can tell from the popular culture references strewn throughout the text. And it is most certainly for Americans, for the same reasons.

Sincero does try to notice that not everyone has the privileges she has, but there’s a lot of exhortations to just DO a thing and all will be well. Plus, there’s an undercurrent of blaming people for their own misfortunes. I don’t think she intends it, but it does come across if you know anyone who is actually poor, abused, or has other big-ass hardships.

No doubt, a lot of people will enjoy her light-hearted tone and short, easy-to-read-in-a-sitting chapters. Sincero’s heart is in the right place, and I guess she’s just talking like a life coach, making me very glad, once again, not to have a life coach. She repeats that important notion that you’re fine just as you are, and that it’s okay to let go of things (andpeople) that don’t serve you. And I think for anyone setting out to figure out who they are and who they want to be, her ideas, visualizations, and focusing techniques can be truly helpful.

I thought hard about it and realized I know who I am, where I want to be in life, and how I’m going about getting there. I know where my blockages are and am laser focused on moving through them. (I am NOT perfect; I just already introspect the heck out of myself and keep changing and adjusting.)

Here’s What Was Serendipitous

The cool experience I had with You Are a Badass (registered trademark) is that I set it down from November until last week, when I realized I needed to read the next section for our long-delayed book club meeting soon. Then I said to myself, “Let’s just get this book over with, and kept plodding away.

Now, I’d been dealing with a person who’d been in my life a while, but whose habits and actions really bothered me. I talked about it in my bully post. I knew perfectly well what I needed to do to stop letting myself feel annoyed, and deep beneath my subconscious there was an elusive piece of insight I knew I needed to apply, but it had slipped my mind. Not to worry, by delaying reading this book until the right moment, my reminder popped up, right there on page 180.

p. 180, BINGO

I’ve heard that before, and even applied it to myself (for example, I learned to deal with a constant “my problems are worse than yours” friend by realizing I had that tendency, too, forgiving the friend, and working on my own shit. Y’all do NOT get to read about all my problems here (just things I want to share, in case they are helpful to someone), and you can thank that friend.

But yeah. Sincero’s example was even right on. This person feels as if he just HAS to be the smartest person in the room, delivering lectures at the drop of a hat, and not entertaining alternate ideas or thoughts. That is another tendency I fall into myself. I hate being wrong (or screwing up). Luckily, this is another thing I’ve worked on (and had a LOT of opportunities since I came to rural America). I no longer feel it necessary to trot out my knowledge of whatever it is I’m so knowledgeable about unless I really think someone WANTS to know about it or would make any use of my expertise. I’ve been called out on this a few times (Suna, aren’t you a professional writer? Why didn’t you say anything to that person pontificating about writing?) Unless it’s worth the effort, I’ll just let people figure stuff out for themselves; I don’t have to be Professor of Everything I Know About.

But, that does explain one reason that person annoyed me. That person also has a savior complex, and feels that it’s their duty to fix the problem of every sob story they hear about (human and otherwise). Helping others is good. Helping others to get attention for it is less great. And oh have I been accused of doing that in the past! I am pretty sure that, while I’ve helped some people, my motives may have been messed up some of the time. No wonder seeing that in someone else annoyed me.

Seeing this made me feel much better about needing some distance, and also helped me get over being annoyed. That leads to the next nugget I ran into, all about how to get past being irritated and move on. I needed a reminder of this, too.

page 123, the nugget of goodness

Right on! I am learning to talk to people I care about if I have issues with them, and to listen when people do that to me. She’s right, it can bring you closer. But, in the case of the bully, Sincero is dead right. It is totally useless to think about revenge, proving myself right (I am), or some other vindication. It’s not worth the mental effort nor the physical symptoms all that vitriol can cause.

I knew I needed to just let it go. I had been telling myself that, but this passage helped me realize it was for my own good to do this. If karma bites that person in the butt, I may not see it, but that’s fine. If it becomes clear to them that I was doing the right thing all along by resisting the bullying, well, maybe that will help them, but it won’t be my problem. I’m over here with people who like me, learning about being a better human being, and dealing with my own issues.

That’s plenty, right? I’m glad I came across those passages right when I needed them.

Small Warning

The last part of the book, where she goes into full-throttle, goal-setting, laser-focused dream achievement is something you might want to skip. The end of the book has advice that, if I took it, I’d be one miserable human being. I think it would be very hard to be so focused on some goal that you have no other life. Also, her belief in the Secret, or whatever it is, that things come if you just focus on them, well, it’s great for some stuff.

But it felt to ME that she came from a really entitled white lady space in a lot of the last part of the book. I don’t think she knows REAL struggle, systemic racism, and the like.

Just my thoughts. If you fit her intended audience, though, maybe you, too, can bring out the internal badass that’s always been there. I find that Brene Brown says similar things in a way that resonates more with me. But then, she is closer to my age.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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