Approximately two years after #GIRLBOSS came out, I finally got around to reading it. It took me several months of procrastinating even after going to author Sophia Amoruso’s book talk earlier last year. I felt it was my journalistic duty to actually read the book… so that’s just what I did over two plane flights.
I started out reading the book with a very skeptical mindset – self-help books aren’t really my thing. But after shaking off initial preconceptions, I realized what Amoruso was writing hit home for me – and, as a matter of fact, she had really great advice to give.
Here are 8 things I learned:
8. A little magical thinking never hurt anyone.
“Chaos magic is the idea that a particular set of beliefs serves as an active force in the world… we choose what and how we believe, and our beliefs are tools that we then use to make things happen… or not.”
Amoruso goes on to say clarify that “magic” is not Harry Potter-esque spells, rather, she’s suggesting we are in control of our intentions and attitudes – how we respond to our circumstances can help shape our lives. So, yes, your attitude and your system of beliefs can, in fact, influence things.
Intention setting is a strategy that Amoruso uses every day. Not as some woo woo bullshit that magically makes her life better, but basically, she has small rituals she practices daily reminding her of the bigger picture. For example, she chooses her passwords based on what she wants for the company.
As a writer, I feel like I suffer from major creative lulls where the creative juices simply aren’t flowing. It’s a great reminder to find ways to layer my life with meaning in small ways. I don’t have to wake up reaching for the stars, I just have to make to be deliberate about my choices and attitude that day.
7. Don’t be intimidated by anybody.
“I stopped feeling as if I didn’t belong anywhere, and realized that I belonged anywhere I wanted to be – whether that was a boardroom, business class, or on stage at a Women’s Wear CEO Summit.”
One of my unofficial New Year’s goals was to be less self-conscious and just to own things more – whether that means taking up space in public unapologetically (i.e. stop saying “sorry” when people bump into ME) or dressing in things I like regardless of anyone else.
Like Amoruso says, you belong anywhere you want to be. You deserve to be there. Own it.
6. Make fashion whatever the hell you want it to be.
“Nasty Gal is antifashion in that we encourage girls to choose what fashion means to them.”
I can get behind this 100%. Fashion is a way to express yourself whether you buy into the industry or not.
“This isn’t the false confidence that comes from getting a bunch of ‘likes’ on your Instagram selfies, but a deep down, unshakable self-confidence that persists even when things aren’t going all that great.”
I think there a lot of people who rely too highly on social media for bumps in their self-esteem – including myself sometimes. Yeah, it feels good when 50+ people “like” your photo but what happens after that? You keep going after that high of attaining “likes”? No. That’s not a sustainable way to build confidence.
There has to be an unshakeable sort of confidence that comes from a steadfast belief in yourself and your capabilities.
4. The path to success might not be traditional.
“It’s unfortunate that school is so often regarded as a one-size-fits all kind of deal. If it doesn’t fit, you’re treated as if there is something wrong with you; so it is you, not the system, which is failing.”
I was “good” at school in the sense that I knew what it took to get the job done. I was “smart” in the sense I could read a book, extract general themes, and whip out an essay. But when I got to college, I realized I couldn’t get by on my old system of being “smart”, I had to actually work hard. And so I did.
But I also got ground up and spit out by the academic system and left with a general dislike of college academics. Not because I couldn’t do it, but because it simply wasn’t me any more. I’m proud of my degree but I realize that academia is not where I am meant to be.
3. It’s okay not to love a job.
“I respect people who are willing to just roll up their sleeves and get the job done, even if it’s a shitty one. Trust me, there ain’t no shame in that game…”
Sometimes, you just have to suffer through awful jobs to feel grateful for an awesome one. All those years scooping ice cream for small children who liked to smear their treats everywhere was for something after all – it was a stepping stone to better, less messy jobs.
“…when I put on makeup, I’m not doing it to pander to antiquated patriarchal ideals of feminine beauty. I’m doing it because it makes me feel good…. I’m telling you that you don’t have to choose between smart and sexy. You can have both, You are both.”
I love this quote and this theme throughout the book because it re-emphasizes one of the most important aspects of feminism. Feminism doesn’t prescribe a certain look or acts to feminists, you can wear makeup if that’s what you want. You can still retain your femininity and be a feminist. Or, you can shrug it off if that’s more your thing. Or you choose to identify as nonbinary. Feminism, at its heart, is about equality, yes. But it’s also about choice and how choices, even in our daily lives, can be feminist choices. The personal is political, my friends.
“Learn to create your own opportunities. Know that there is no finish line; fortune favors action.”
Amoruso underlines the importance of working your ass off throughout the book. You can’t just sit around whining that life sucks. I mean you can if you’d like but that definitely won’t change anything. Apply to jobs. Practice your hobbies. Get to the gym. Whatever it is that you’re doing, know that you’re giving it your all. Sure, there is good fortune but behind it is hard work.