How to Be a Bawse

BAWSE/ ‘baus’/ n: a person who exudes confidence, hustles relentlessly, reaches goals and smiles genuinely because he or she has fought through it all and made it out the other side.

Lilly Singh isn’t just a superstar. She’s a Superwoman – which is also the name of her wildly popular Youtube channel. Funny, smart and insightful, the actress and comedian covers topics ranging from relationships to career choices to everyday annoyances. But Lilly didn’t get to the top by being lucky – she had to work for it. Hard.

How to Be a Bawse is the definitive guide to conquering life. Be warned: this book does not include hopeful thoughts, lucky charms or cute quotes. Success and happiness require real effort, dedication and determination. In Lilly’s world, there are no escalators, only stairs. Get ready to climb.

Consider Lilly a personal trainer for your life – with fifty practical rules to get you in the game. Told in Lilly’s hilarious, bold voice and packed with photos and previously untold stories from her journey to the top, this book will show you how to love life and yourself.

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In a culture in which overnight success is considered the only kind, Lilly Singh’s take the stairs, and life rewards hard work attitude is a breath of fresh air. In How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life, she tracks her career from point A: recent psychology graduate, directionless and struggling with depression; to point B: womankind’s answer to Dwayne Johnson with a literal empire of Youtube followers (over 12 million) to boot – and advises you on how to do the same (or, whatever your equivalent may be.).

This no nonsense, practical guide serves as a metaphorical foot in the ass of individuals like myself who have vague dreams but are intimidated by the stress involved in making them a reality.

But why would I write the authentic personal essays I want to write when I could just binge watch sitcoms and avoid my feelings? Are the sort of questions Singh spends this book giving the serious side eye. In every beautiful photograph scattered throughout, Lilly stared at me with a look that said: get your shit together, Tewkesbury.

I’m trying.

In her succinct, funny and pure style, Singh takes us through the qualities she’s cultivated that have helped her succeed. The word I would use to describe Lilly’s self-help style is: strident. She makes clear that she’s only there to give directions. It’s up to you, the reader, to get in the car and drive it. And if you don’t… well, that’s nobody’s fault but your own.

That said, she is not an author without empathy. She just believes in the power of saving oneself. I guess it’s kind of like in the movie except Ares is your own ability to procrastinate?

Okay, I just realised that’s actually Wonder Woman. But whatever. My point stands.

Nobody is going to kill Ares for you. You’ve got to get that shit done yourself. Even if it means leaving your beautiful, women only island where misogyny is a weird myth you laugh about over cocktails (I assume).

How to Be a Bawse is far from pithy, Instagram quote-worthy. It’s, at times, a tough read in which Singh asks you to get real and put aside the bullshit you tell yourself in order to get to your actual emotions. And she doesn’t just tell you to do it, she does it herself, giving examples from her own life where she’s had to send the GPS deep, even when doing so was uncomfortable and difficult.

Like, maybe the real reason I don’t write those authentic personal essays is because I am afraid of rejection because I have been rejected a lot (#daddyissues) and so I’ve come to see it as inevitable?

It turns out a lot of the work most worth doing falls under the labels of uncomfortable and difficult. God damn adulthood.

How to Be a Bawse is inspiration, encouragement and some much needed admonishment packaged in a beautiful (and ridiculously heavy. This was not a fun one to lug around public transport, let me tell you.) hardback. You can’t help but finish the book with a sense that anything is possible, if only you’re willing to work hard enough.

And hard work is something we’re capable of, if we let ourselves be.

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Mood Reads

When the idea of hanging out with your friends makes you want to puke from anxiety…

Fan Girl – Rainbow Rowell

When is feels like EVERYBODY has somebody but you and you’re going to die alone…

The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli

When you want to set fire to things…

Play it as it Lays – Joan Didion

When you want to start a political movement…

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

When you want to celebrate adult life, in all its weirdnesses…

Yes Please – Amy Poehler

When you want some serious sexy times…

The Hating Game – Sally Thorne

When you’ve had one of those nights with friends where you feel like you’ve found your place in the universe….

The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

When you need to feel like you exist…

Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed

When you need to disappear…

The Name of the Star – Maureen Johnson

When you want to have learned EVERYTHING…

My Life on the Road – Gloria Steinem

When you need to hear that it’s okay to be insecure…

The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness

When you need reminding that the world can be beautiful….

No Matter the Wreckage – Sarah Kay

Lady Memoirs for the Soul

We are fast approaching the end of summer. Even though I am no longer a student, I can’t help but think of September as the beginning of… something. The thought of it makes me feel reinvigorated somehow. Does anyone else feel this way?

What I want, in periods like these, is to feed that sense of invigoration. For me, that means reading the thoughts of the people I most admire. So, books by women.

Here are a few to kick start your inspiration engine:

Lady memoirs

Yes Please – Amy Poehler

I thoroughly believe that everyone should read this book. I have the audiobook, and I listen to it whenever I am having a hard day. Amy Poehler is such a giving, open hearted writer. It pours out of her and infects you with its goodness.

“Hopefully as you get older, you start to learn how to live with your demon. It’s hard at first. Some people give their demon so much room that there is no space in their head or bed for love. They feed their demon and it gets really strong and then it makes them stay in abusive relationships or starve their beautiful bodies. But sometimes, you get a little older and get a little bored of the demon. Through good therapy and friends and self-love you can practice treating the demon like a hacky, annoying cousin. Maybe a day even comes when you are getting dressed for a fancy event and it whispers, “You aren’t pretty,” and you go, “I know, I know, now let me find my earrings.” Sometimes you say, “Demon, I promise you I will let you remind me of my ugliness, but right now I am having hot sex so I will check in later.”

The Art of Asking – Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer is a singer on an art mission. Her memoir chronicles her journey from human statue to record breaking Kickstarter legend.

The Art of Asking is a book about art and trust and love. Amanda’s is a life lived to the fullest reaches of vulnerability and fearlessness. It makes wonderful reading.

“There’s a difference between wanting to be looked at and wanting to be seen.

When you are looked at, your eyes can be closed. You suck energy, you steal the spotlight. When you are seen, your eyes must be open, and you are seeing and recognizing your witness. You accept energy and you generate energy. You create light.

One is exhibitionism, the other is connection.

Not everybody wants to be looked at.

Everybody wants to be seen.” 

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

Wild is a story of healing. After losing her mother at 21, Cheryl Strayed’s life falls apart. Her family disintegrates, her relationship with her husband implodes, and her relationship with heroin gets intimate.

Until one day she just can’t take it anymore. Until one day she picks up a guide to hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2000 mile track across America. Until one day she decides to walk that trail, alone.

It’s an introspective, vulnerable, funny, heart breaking read.

“The father’s job is to teach his children how to be warriors, to give them the confidence to get on the horse to ride into battle when it’s necessary to do so. If you don’t get that from your father, you have to teach yourself.” 

I Was Told There’d Be Cake – Sloane Crosley

There is an essay in this book about how one time Sloane Crosley threw a very tense dinner party and one of guests shit on the floor of her bathroom.

Obviously a must read.

“Life starts out with everyone clapping when you take a poo and goes downhill from there.” 

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

Okay, so I guess this one technically isn’t a memoir. It does, however, feature stories from Liz Gilbert’s extensive creative life. If you care at all about creating, or if even a little part of you wants to make something, I beg you to read this book. It isn’t some art instruction manual, or a book about the morning routine that will make you write a best seller. It’s a simple exploration or creativity. It is about the joy of making something just because you want to make it.

It is not a book about success, in the traditional sense. It is a book that asks you to commit to creating because it’s what your heart wants. I think it is a book many of us bloggers would benefit greatly from reading.

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.” 

Brave Enough

At this point I think we all know of my great love for book shaped encouragements.

You could probably describe this one as handbag size, but that doesn’t sit right with me because I always buy my bags with their book capacity as my first consideration.

I’m all about the book-size bag.

Anyway.

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Cheryl Strayed’s Brave Enough: A Mini Instruction Manual for the Soul, is a collection of quotes from her work.

As readers, we all understand the power of words. We’ve all experienced the intensity of feeling in the moment when you read a phrase that just captures it perfectly. It can be pretty much anything. Heartbreak. Boredom. Loss. Hope.

It is a lot of why we read. When we find it, for a wonderful moment we are no longer alone in the world. Someone else felt this way once. The moment is bigger than yourself. And at the same time it sort of helps you to come into being.

There is endless comfort to be found in that.

Cheryl Strayed gets this. She has always been the sort who collects quotes. Whether in a notebook, on a chalkboard or scrawled across her own skin in biro, her whole life, Strayed has carried with her the quotes that have aided her existence.

It kind of figures that one day she would bring out a book of her own.

The book is a compilation of quotes from all her previous works.

I’ve only had this book for a couple of months, but even as I have flicked through it, different quotes have suddenly leapt off the page at me. Almost every time I read it, I discover some gem of information I flicked past without a thought previously.  I like to think that there are even now quotes in there waiting until I need them.

It’s the sort of book that’s nice to have around.

The Lively Show

In the months since I have been gearing up to finish university, every day I have wavered between panicked planning, extreme pessimism and shy optimism. Listening to The Lively Show helps feed the shy optimist in me.

At the moment I’m basically obsessed with self-development. When I look into the future, the only thing I see is a big old question mark, but around that are small bubbles of definite wants. Happiness. Travel. Stories.

In the months since I have been gearing up to finish university, every day I have wavered between panicked planning, extreme pessimism and shy optimism. Listening to The Lively Show helps feed the shy optimist in me.

the lively show

Jess Lively is all about living with intention. If we design our lives around values based intentions, she believes, everything good we want will follow. An intention is a way to live your life rather than a goal. It isn’t something you finish so much as something that you cultivate.

The Lively Show is a variety of interviews, mostly with people running their own businesses, about how they gain enrichment and self-knowledge from everything that they do. She talks to people who have written other self-help techniques, started fashion blogs or moved to New Orleans because they needed a new adventure.

This blog pretty much exists because of The Lively Show. It is a remarkable motivator.

As a piece of advice to recent graduates – or anyone lost in the unknown future sea – I would recommend listening to shows like this. People like Jess Lively are all about owning your own existence. When I listen to the show I feel like I am taking back a tiny bit of control over my life.

All the shows so far are available on itunes. They are all wonderful and worth a listen, but here are my top 5:

5. Overcoming death, debt and depression with Hal Elrod

This podcast covers the remarkable story of Hal Elrod, author of self-help book The Miracle Morning. He’s all about how to make the most out of your day. Good motivation for creative types.

4. Accepting and embracing our talents with Brooke White

Brooke White is from Girls with Glasses and American Idol. In this podcast she discusses the massive insecurities she has suffered while trying to cultivate her art. She talks about how to deal with the constant: but what if I suck?! Throughout this entire show I was just like she gets me!

3. Facing fears and slowing down with Joy Wilson

I love Joy the Baker. Who wouldn’t? The story of how her blog came to be is a great motivator. Plus she moved to New Orleans for a better life which is a dream I go to in my head from time to time.

2. The surprisingly simply truth about extraordinary results with Jay Papasan

This episode is all about building up your 10,000 hours. For anyone who doesn’t know, that’s supposed to be the amount of time it takes to cultivate a creative skill. Again, a wonderful one for motivation, especially for when you start to feel like producing your art is like shouting into a void.

1. The art of relaxation and creativity with Jen Gotch

Jen is the creator of Ban.Do, beautiful accessories I can’t afford. Her story is fascinating. She bounced around a lot before she eventually found what she loved to do. This again is a really great listen for anyone feeling a little lost. It gave me that light at the end of the tunnel sensation.

…And there are so many more! The Lively Show is definitely qualifies for binge listening. I quite often have it on when I am getting ready in the morning. It makes for a very positive start to my day!