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Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals
Author:Rachel Hollis

Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals

Rachel Hollis


WHAT IF . . .

When I originally started writing this book I fully planned on calling it Sorry, Not Sorry. And, yes, I was basing that title on a Demi Lovato song. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the song was the impetus for this entire book.

Imagine, if you will, the late summer of 2017 when I first heard this jam. It was a sunny Monday morning. I know it was Monday morning because my entire staff was dancing around our conference table, pumping themselves up for our weekly kickoff meeting. And I know it was sunny because it was summertime in Los Angeles—the exorbitant property taxes ensure that the climate will never fall below a balmy seventy-three degrees.

We always dance it out before big meetings because it brings up our energy and gets us in the right headspace. Each week (to keep things fair) we rotate the role of house DJ, the person on our team who gets to pick our pump-up music. That summer, the entire staff (besides me) was under twenty-eight, so it was a millennial box of chocolates—you never knew what you were going to get. On that particular Monday I heard the song for the first time.

It was love at first listen.

If you’ve never rocked out to this particular piece, you should add it to your workout playlist immediately. It’s upbeat and fun and irreverent to the point of challenge—the exact kind of inspiration you want before an intense cardio session or a first run in the local mayoral election.

Demi lets us know that she’s looking great and feeling great and living her life on her own terms. And she’s sorry, but she’s not sorry. I live for this kind of jam. It’s poppy and catchy and easily fits in the arsenal of music I use to give myself energy or alter my mood.

After that first experience, I quickly developed a song crush. I listened to it in the shower, at the gym, in the car—I even went so far as to play the Kidz Bop version when my children were around so I could keep it in rotation. I mean, that’s commitment, you guys! Anyone who has ever suffered through Kidz Bop can attest that it’s the seventh circle of parenting hell, but that’s how much I loved this song. I listened to it all the time, and eventually a question popped into my head: What am I not sorry about?

See, Demi, she’s not sorry about living life on her terms. She’s not sorry for looking good or feeling good or making her ex-boyfriend jealous or taking a bubble bath in a Jacuzzi in the living room—if her music video is anything to go by. But what about me? What were the areas in my life that I absolutely refused to apologize for?

I wish I could tell you that every part of my life is a long list of not giving a tinker’s damn what anyone else thinks, but that wouldn’t be truthful no matter how much I want to set an example for you now.

As a sidenote, I spent much of my last Christmas holiday in bed sick with a horrible chest cold. I used that time to read many historical romance novels set in the Regency era with brooding dukes who were always saying things like, “Evangeline, I don’t give a tinker’s damn what society thinks!” just before kissing the heroine with the passion of ten thousand suns or whatever. My New Year’s resolution was to start using the term tinker’s damn in everyday speech. I’ve already accomplished my dreams, and it’s only January 2. Huzzah!

But, truly, like many other women, I’m still in the process of overcoming a lifetime of people-pleasing. I constantly strive to move through every part of my life unconcerned with the opinions of others, but truthfully, I don’t always achieve it. Yes, even me, the professional advice-giver, even I sometimes get trapped inside the crippling weight of other people’s expectations and have to talk myself down from the ledge. But you better believe there are areas where I have mastered it. There are whole segments of my life where I’ve worked hard to keep my eyes on my own values and not worry what other people might think of them. The biggest example of this? Big, audacious dreaming. Massive, obnoxious goal setting. Being a proud working mother instead of buying into the special brand of oppression found inside mommy guilt. Daring to believe that I can change the world by helping women like you feel brave and proud and strong.

I may occasionally get tied up in the trappings of some stranger being mean on the internet about my hair or my clothes or my writing style—but I no longer spend a single second of my life worrying about what others think of me for having dreams for myself.

Embracing the idea that you can want things for yourself even if nobody else understands the whys behind them is the most freeing and powerful feeling in the world. You want to be a third-grade teacher? Wonderful! Open a dog-grooming studio where you specialize in dyeing poodles pink? Great! You want to save up to go on a lavish vacation where you ask everyone to refer to you as Bianca when your actual name is Pam? Fantastic!

Whatever the dream, it’s yours, not mine. You don’t have to give any justification, because as long you’re not asking anyone to give you approval, then you don’t need anyone to give you permission. In fact, when you understand that you don’t have to justify your dreams to anyone else for any reason, that’s the day you truly begin to step into who you’re meant to be. I don’t mean that you go around middle fingers up, like a Beyoncé song. I don’t mean that you turn bitter and rude and shove your goals into other people’s faces to prove a point. I mean that you focus in on the dream you have, you do the work, you put in the hours, and you stop feeling guilty about it!

Sadly, most people will go through their entire lives never experiencing that at all. Women especially are so brutal on themselves, and they often talk themselves out of their own dreams before they even attempt them.

This is a travesty.

There is so much untapped potential inside people who are too afraid to give themselves a chance. Right now there are women reading these lines who have ideas for nonprofits that would change the world . . . if only they had the courage to pursue their dreams. There are women reading these lines who have the potential to build a company that would alter their families’ lives—and the lives of others who’d be positively affected by the business they created—if only they had the audacity to believe it would work. Right now there are women reading these lines who would invent the next great app, design the next great fashion line, write the next great bestselling book, or create the beauty products we’d all be obsessed with, if only they believed in themselves.

A dream always starts with a question, and the question is always some form of What if . . .

What if I went back to school?

What if I tried to build that?

What if I pushed myself to run 26.2 miles?

What if I moved to a new city?

What if I’m the one who could change the system?

What if God put this on my heart for a reason?

What if I could add some income to our bank account?

What if I could write a book that would help people?

That what if? That’s your potential knocking on the door of your heart and begging it to find the courage to override all the fear in your head. That what if is there for a reason. That what if is your guidepost. That what if tells you where to focus next.