The Book: You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. Jen Sincero. Running Press, 2013.
I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. Of course, with that title, how could anyone not. You pick it up, and suddenly you’re wearing a black leather jacket, and your boots make a satisfying clomping sound as you go out to the parking lot and swing your leg over your motorcycle to ride off into the sunset. That’s what happened to me, in my head, anyway, when I first beheld it. Go out and buy it at your earliest opportunity.
I have a small confession: this is the third time I’ve read it. My love for it shows with the slightly frayed and bent front cover, the creases in the binding, and the weird discoloration on the back cover. I have a second small confession: while this isn’t my first go-round, I’ve never actually…uhm…done the exercises (Ms. Sincero, if you ever read this, I’m sorry! I know I should have done them the first time, but I just wasn’t feeling badass enough yet).
You are a Badass is funny and insightful. Jen (can I call you Jen?) is a compelling storyteller, and most importantly, the work — both in the sense of the book itself and the work of the exercises — is extremely accessible. GO BUY IT.
Before I go too much further, a couple of things about how I think this blog is going to work (remember, it’s my first one, so this is subject to change at any moment per my whim):
- I’m not going to give a full summary of each book before getting into the exercises, so you’ll get little summarized bits as I read and work through them.
- Rule #2 clearly states that I’ll do all the exercises and blog about it. I will, in fact, do all of the exercises in each book, because I think that’s important to my development as a human being. I will not, however, blog about every exercise that I do. There are a couple of reasons:
- That would be extraordinarily tedious for everyone. You do not want that. I do not want that.
- The point here isn’t to give a compendium of self-help exercises, but to share my experiences of this whole process of internal adventuring.
That little bit of administrative business out of the way, on to the book!
What is You are a Badass even about? It’s not about leather jackets and motorcycles, unless you want it to be. In Jen’s words, “This is about getting mighty clear about what makes you happy and what makes you feel the most alive, and then creating it instead of pretending you can’t have it. Or that you don’t deserve it […] Or listening to what Dad and Aunt Mary think you should be doing. It’s about having the cojones to show up as the brightest, happiest, badassiest version of yourself, whatever that looks like to you” (12). That sounds pretty cool…and daunting, no?
The first few chapters give us some wisdom for the journey ahead:
- a discussion of why we are (f**ked up) the way we are, aka our subconscious limiting beliefs [SIDE NOTE: Oh, guys, I’ve got those in SPADES];
- the essential nature of what Jen calls “Source Energy”, but what could be God, Goddess, G-d, the Universe, the Cosmos, etc — whatever we conceive our Greater Powers to be. Belief in this greater power is necessary to become a true badass. I like “The Universe” most because it’s all-encompassing.
- the fact that the energy we send out into The Universe is the same type of energy it sends back to us, basically because that’s what we’re asking for. So, we gotta raise our frequencies.
- how very important it is to be aware and to be present [SIDE NOTE II: Oh, guys, I’m TERRIBLE at this one, so it’s gonna be some extra work]
The second part, “How to Embrace your Inner Badass” is where we start to get the show really on the road, and where I came across the first of the exercises! These four chapters deal in self-love, self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-starting-to-figure-out-what-to-do-with-your-damned-self. Really, seriously, though, go read these chapters.
Now – drumroll, please – ba da ba da ba da ba da ba da (how does one spell a drumroll?) – THE EXERCISES:
DROWN YOURSELF IN AFFIRMATIONS
I read this one, and thought, “Great. Affirmations. Let’s sit in front of a hand-mirror and say nice, if bland and silly things to myself like ‘I love me’ and ‘I embrace me.'” Jen makes swallowing this pill a little easier by basically stating that she’s only making me do it because she has to, because it works, but if there were any other way, she’d suggest that instead.
The instructions are really quite simple: surround yourself in affirmations. She suggested writing them down: making a list to carry with you and putting them on Post-Its around the house. I did not have any Post-Its. But do you know who did? Yes! The corner store (I have a feeling I’ll be going there a lot throughout this process, but I learned they do have notebooks, too, in case my 28 — I found another — aren’t sufficient). I now have Post-Its, too.
And now, a list of 22 affirmations:
I can fold it up and put it in my pocket!
There are also 22 Post-Its in strategic locations around my apartment. By strategic locations, I mean where I’ll actually see them. Mostly about 5’8″ off the ground, a.k.a eye-level for me, like these ones by the front door:
These ones say “I have a great butt!” and “I walk fearless into the unknown!” (Don’t judge my affirmations! They can be whatever I want them to be, thankyouverymuch).
Or in places I look frequently, like the ones on the bathroom mirror (I spared you the bathroom-mirror-selfie-in-my-sweats-and-ratty-T-shirt):
“I am a fount of creativity!” and “I am a badass magical unicorn!” (I especially like the second).
But this one might my my favorite: over the face of the clock I look at literally every 4 minutes when I’m home, but don’t actually need to because I always know about what time it is and can check my phone when precision is needed:
You can read that one. But just in case, it says, “I can!” That’s my actual favorite of the affirmations, which is why it has an honored place on the clock. And it’s writ large so I can see it without my glasses from across the room, for those days when I forget, and think I can’t.
The point of the affirmations is to surround yourself positivity – reinforced by exclamation points (!) on my Post-Its – about the things that maybe, sometimes, for myriad reasons, you might not feel so positive about. It’s been 24 hours, and they seem to be working a little already! My butt feels more muscular, anyway.
2. Do things you love
Jen told me, “make a conscious effort to increase your joy in whatever capacity you can” (57). A truth, my darlings: I’m terrible at this. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even know what I love, so I waste hours playing with my phone (I know, because remember, I always know about what time it is).
One thing I used to love was yoga. Now, I’m not the kind of yogi who stands on my head to balance my crown chakra or anything like that, but there is nothing that feels quite so good as an extended stretch.
Today was kind of a rough day on the psychological front. Given the bomb cyclone on the East Coast, this makes think of mood as a weather-like event — “we have a low-pressure psychological front coming in through the right frontal lobe” kind of thing. I was ready to throw in the towel, come home from work, and take a nap. Or play on my phone for hours.
Instead, I took Jen’s advice to do something I love. I made it my exercise for the blog post I knew I was going to have to find the energy to write. The Y, where I have a gym membership, is across the street from the building where I work, and they have a conveniently-scheduled Thursday evening yoga class. Slow Flow. It sounded perfect. It WAS perfect.
Of course, doing things I love isn’t an exercise I can do all at once and then be done with, but it reminded me to seek the activities I love and then go out and do them already.
3. TAKE THE FIRST RIGHT STEP
You wanna know a secret? You just read it.
I don’t know for certain where I want my adventure to take me, but I know it involves a lot more writing, and this project, these Adventures in Self-Help Land, are that first right step.