Reshma Saujani is the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. I wasn’t familiar with her, her organization, or her apparently uber-popular TED talk.
Saujani is an interesting woman. I respect her willingness to be honest, especially about her own (pretty big) failures. And I admire anyone who can pick herself up after a major defeat and find a way to move forward and rise above. (On that note, did anyone see John Oliver’s interview with Monica Lewinsky on Last Week Tonight? I know she’s made some big mistakes in her life, but, wow, I’ve got some serious respect for that woman…)
Saujani’s message is simple but powerful. Women are under an enormous amount of pressure to act and be perfect—physically, emotionally, socially, and the list goes on. These expectations are ingrained in girls from birth, and most never fully feel free of them. There were many parts of this book that resonated strongly with me.
The desire to be perfect holds us back in so many ways. We don’t speak up for ourselves, as we know deep down we should, because we don’t want to be seen as pushy, bitchy, or just straight-up unlikeable. When we do speak up, many of us agonize and overthink how to express ourselves, trying to hit just the right note of assertiveness without seeming too “bossy” or aggressive. We obsessively analyze, consider, discuss, and weigh every angle before making a decision, no matter how small. And if we do, heaven forbid, make a mistake, we feel as though our world is falling apart.Reshma Saujani, Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder
Wow. Yeah. Exactly. #preach
While Parts 1 and 2 did start getting repetitive and probably could have been condensed, I still liked her practical advice in Part 3. Some of my favorite tips:
- Ask for feedback. Listen and accept it.
- Allow yourself to experience rejection.
- Do the exact thing that scares you most.
- Practice a small act of bravery every single day.
- Recognize that your feelings of fear are false alarms about 99% of the time.
- Intentionally practice imperfection. Start small so you can tolerate the stress of it.
- Don’t waste time focusing on why someone doesn’t like you. Acknowledge that some people will get you and some people won’t—and allow yourself to be okay with that.
Overall, I appreciate the message of this book. It’s affirming to hear someone acknowledge the weighty expectation of perfection and then show realistic, doable ways to move beyond it. There’s probably about a pamphlet’s-worth of valuable information in here, but I’m still glad I read the whole book. I will definitely be talking about this with my kids—both daughters AND sons.
Big thank you to Currency and Amazon Vine for the ARC!