If something applies to everyone, then it’s functionally useless. Any time I see a facebook post reading “you’re beautiful and things will get better” I think “OK. And?” I guess that’s my way of saying that I’m not really a good self-help book candidate, as if the Daria quote of the title wasn’t enough of a tip-off. But, it’s what got chosen for my work book club, so I might as well unload my strongest vitriol here so as not to offend the chooser of the book.
This is some 240 pages of entitled “follow your DREEEEEEAMS” bs. Some of us don’t have the luxury of choosing wonder over worry, as the title goes. And, in deference to Rae, she does allow that worry has its place as a signifier that something in your life needs to change, and that trying to force positivity is toxic. BUT. I fail to can with a book that seriously advocates for the level of selfishness that this one does. Rae’s mentor here advise her to quit her job and move across the country with no safety net because she felt like she needed to be on the opposite coast, so she does, and it all works out! Hooray. SO: 1) Not everyone can take risks like that, and sure it worked out for her, but when you’re in a show with Banksy and Shepard Fairey, then MAYYYBE you’re in a little bit different of a situation than, say a 30something from Michigan in a dual income household with a child cared for by grandparents and a mortgage who wants to move out to the Pacific Northwest. And as that wannabe Seattleite herself, I can admit I’m in a MUCH better position to do that than most. 2) Even if you’re in a position to move, doing so without a safety net is IDIOTIC. It worked here, but there’s a dozen less positive stories about people following their dreams right into bankruptcy. 3) To quote Rob in High Fidelity: I’ve been following my gut for years, and you know what? My gut has shit for brains.
I am all for being more mindful. I think that assessing the root cause of anxiety is a good idea. But this idea of following whatever you truly want can hurt others when you’re not thinking enough about them (Rae discusses a woman choosing to dance in a public forum – a museum or an art gallery or something -and how everyone’s mockery was a sign that they wished they could do something similar: NO. They were upset because she is violating the social contract. You are not the center of attention here. STOP. Think of others) and Rae even admits to entertaining the idea of cheating on her partner which, I’m sorry, if you worried a little more and thought of yourself a little less, you might not do.
And, as long as I’m being petty: this is 240 some pages. A solid quarter of those are drawings or journal pages so you can follow along and workshop some of the ideas. That makes this a pamphlet, not a book. And I’m not buying what it’s selling.