I recall George Carlin’s sardonic humor and his insight that the concept of self-help books are oxymoronic because you didn’t write them yourself. That simple yet profound insight has stuck with me for years. And I guess that’s why You Do You: How To Be Who You Are and Use What You’ve Got To Get What You Want (A No F*cks Given Guide) is one of the best self-help books I’ve read (and I’ve read more than I’ll ever admit, people).
This book is good for many reasons, but most importantly the book revolves around the concept that you should “write your own” self-help book, which is to say that you should honor yourself enough to fashion your life around your individual wants and needs – not put them on the backburner in order to comply with some pre-imposed idea of how you’re supposed to be. Novel concept, eh? And OF COURSE there is a caveat. It’s almost sad that Knight would need to write the disclaimer that “you doing you” does not translate into “sure, go ahead and be a self-serving sociopath.” In fact, there are even a couple of places where you can physically write in this book, so the late, great Mr. Carlin might be pleased. Might.
But seriously though. So many self-help books offer prescriptions for acquiring success, wealth, and general life satisfaction; but this book places YOU at the center and starts there by helping you to reframe your “weaknesses” to view them as strengths. (In a way, the book then also reinforces the idea that there are no shortcuts and that YOU yourself are the key to unlocking your own door, so to speak). One of my favorite parts of the book is how Knight interrogates numerous social norms that leave us feeling like L7 weenies should we deviate (oh, and that pressure to confirm, comply, and fall in line is powerful, friends). If anyone got my L7 Weenie reference, I’m super-impressed, by the way, and we’d probably be best friends or would at least be able to swap movie recommendations. Knight explains that we should not blindly accept widely-held beliefs just because they’ve become tradition (i.e. family comes first, don’t be so selfish, etc) and that, instead, we should draw on and celebrate ourselves in order to live more fulfilling, authentic lives. I can’t say I disagree, people. But that’s apparently much easier said then done. And while that insight is not particularly new or profound, it actually KIND OF IS because she’s willing to stand up as an anti-guru on an anti-pulpit and put herself in the line of fire so you might grow a pair (of ovaries, duh) and feel inspired.
Of course if you read reviews, people will say everything from “it’s so funny and brilliant and helpful” to “it’s vapid and there were too many plugs for her other books.” Well, loddy freakin’ dah, folks. You can’t please ’em all, can you? The other criticism was that she is too liberal with her usage of expletives and irreverence which I view as one of the absolutely best and most relatable components of the book. Also, since this is book is the third in a series, I guess it’s the “weakest link” according to some (which only means I’m even more excited to read her other two books “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F*ck and Get Your Sh*t Together.)
This book was basically the equivalent of having my own personal, hilarious cheerleader on the sidelines of my own personal lifetime movie, trying to help me live my life authentically, unapologetically. As I read on a plane en route to Atlanta, I chuckled and even cackled aloud, and I didn’t even care if I looked stupid in the process. As someone who has had my own struggles with self-consciousness and self-doubt, this book was incredibly inspiring and validating.
And sometimes you just need someone in your corner, even if it’s a potty-mouthed book lady-after-your-own-heart, reminding you that YOU’RE SCREWING YOU IF YOU’RE NOT DOING YOU, and you’re doing so is a disservice to humanity.