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.

How to be Bored

How to be Bored by Eva Hoffman is part of The School of Life, a series dedicated to life’s big questions.

I am a person who is forever consuming. Whether it’s podcasts, social media, Netflix, books or Youtube videos, there is always something filling up my mental space.

As I grow up and face my own life’s big questions (how is it possible for me to not know what I want? And, furthermore, if I can’t even figure myself out, how on earth am I supposed to deal with other people?!), it occurred to me that maybe I would have an easier time answering them if I spent half as much time listening to myself as I do… well, the entire internet. That maybe I was even using the internet as a way of deliberately avoiding doing so.

A couple days after thinking this, I found this book (while I was in Hay-On-Wye, actually). I glanced at the blurb and saw ‘We live in a hyper-active, over stimulated age. Uninterrupted activity can seem exciting, but it can also leave us emotionally disoriented and mentally depleted. How can we recover a sense of balance and richness of experience in our lives?’ … I was totally sold.

How to be Bored is a short book that contains a whole lot of wisdom and some simple reminders of how we might best spend our time on this planet. Here are just a few of my favourites:

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On the internet…

‘We absorb large quantities of culture, which may be all to the good; but too often, we consume culture in the spirit of – well, consumerism. We do things in order to have done them, or simply to fill time with an activity.’

‘If we rush ceaselessly through disconnected activities without checking in on our moods or motives, we can lose track of ourselves; in a sense, we lose the ability to experience our experiences.’

On reading…

‘Books help to create a sense that we live in a shared world, or what some sociologists call “imagined communities”. But the fundamental reason for taking the time to read is because books (good books, that is; books that matter) are the best aid to extended thought and imaginative reflection we have invented.’

‘It is often a good idea to read the beginning of a book especially slowly and attentively; as in exploring a new place – or person – we need to make an initial effort of orientation and of empathy. Eventually, if we are drawn in, we can have the immensely pleasurable experience of full absorption – a kind of simultaneous focusing of attention and losing our self-consciousness as we enter the imaginative world of the book.’

On art…

‘… art reminds us that we are attached to the world through our physical perceptions – through our relish of the textures and colours of our surroundings – and it also helps us understand that the way we perceive the external world and human form is informed by our inner vision. Hostility or fear makes the objects of our vision ugly; on the other hand, aesthetic appreciation arises out of an intense appreciation or cherishing – a way of looking that requires attentiveness and a kind of love.’

On music…

‘Being immersed in the musical language… reminds us that we have inner lives that are more than superficial or politely socialised; that we have the potential for powerful feelings and responses; and that if we consign ourselves to functioning only on the surfaces of ourselves we lose rich dimensions of experience, and a measure of our humanity.’

On making decisions…

‘Arriving at complex life decisions – decisions that involve not only commodities, but ourselves – cannot be done by statistic calculation, if only because we are not statistically constructed.’

‘We need to ponder not only what we are like, but who we want to be – what qualities or attitudes in ourselves we want to affirm, and what we do not admire. In other words, we need to create our own guideposts for important decisions – our own ethical, as well as emotional, criteria for choice.’

On life…

‘It is only when we give ourselves a chance to nurture all our faculties and ways of understanding the world that we can begin to feel ourselves to be rich in internal resources, and to experience richly.’

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!