Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis (Book Summary)

Patriarchal society exposes women to get approval from the male authority for hundreds of years. Women feel inequality almost everywhere. When a woman does something extraordinary, men react aggressively. That’s why they always feel insecure about what they are about to do. It is obvious that lots of women are scared of the reactions of society.

In this society, there are lots of norms that oppress women. Because of these norms, after women do an “unwanted” behavior, they find themselves apologizing to other people or trying to get approval from them. According to the patriarchal society, if a woman is a mother, she should dedicate herself to her kids and stay in the house to look after them. Her only job should be looking after the kids and managing the house, not a fancy career in a global company.

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In her book, Rachel Hollis states that it’s high time for women stopped apologizing and lived the way they wish. If a woman wants to raise a kid and a career at the same time, she can. If she wants to do a job that is “cut for men”, she should prove herself that she can do. In this summary, you’ll get lots of advice on how to ignore the patriarchal norms and be truly yourself.

1 – Many women give up on their dreams and there are a lot of causes for that. 

What would happen if every woman does what they desire in the world, without any hesitation or any trepidation? Simply put, the world and the idea of a woman would totally change in a positive way. Millions of women can’t show their true identity because of their concerns. And, the reasons are not just one or two.

First of all, we all care about what other people think about ourselves, even though some of the people show it like they don’t care but deep down they do, too. It’s in our nature and we can’t help it. That’s why the desire for attention starts the early times of human life. When toddlers realize that they get attention to certain behaviors, they grasp the idea and turn that behavior into a habit. Eventually, those habits are carried to adulthood somehow.

For instance, when a kid gets sick, adults take care of him more than usual. When he realize those changes in adult’s behaviors, it becomes a habit of his and he might end up having hypochondriacal behavior — fear of having a serious, undiagnosed medical condition.

In the same way, if a kid realizes that when he accomplishes something, he gets positive feedbacks and is rewarded, it can make him an overachiever who likes to get rewards in his later life. Therefore, whether we agree or not, other people’s reactions to what we do, play a great role in our next behaviors and even our identities.

So, when the desire for the attention and distressing on what other people think are combined, one of the reasons why young girls are raised to be a good wife or mom shows up. In the patriarchal society, women’s value is merely based on if they have a good wife or good mom material. Consequently, women act to please other people, not themselves.

In other words, girls are raised to meet the expectations of others, whereas boys are raised to follow their dreams and build a life on them.

For that reason, in order to get off the hook of these ingrained fences, you need to stop pleasing others and focus on pleasing yourself. Those fences restrain you from the person you want to be. As a woman, it’s always okay to have a dream that is totally different from someone else’s. The important thing here is to realize those dreams, without making excuses and concerning about what other people think.

In her book, Rachel Hollis mentions a few common excuses for why women are afraid to pursue their dreams. In the course of reading the book, those excuses will be dissolved and replaced with the powerful behaviors and skills that all women need to have in their way of following and realizing their dreams without any hesitation.

2 – Being a different woman is not a bad thing. In fact, it is the first step of being successful and purposive.

Rachel Hollis was one of the women that have a double life as a devoted wife/mom and a businesswoman. Because of her business, she spent 60-hours in the workplace every week. She owns a popular lifestyle blog in which she administers a small staff. It might seem like a hard job as a mother but she handled it professionally.

After her first child, everyone guessed that she would get a break from the work or reduce her working hours, at least. However, she was working way too much as a mother and everybody thought that she wouldn’t raise her child properly. Because public opinion states that a good mom should spend most of her time with her child. Actually, this is one of the excuses for not pursuing your dreams: “Why would I do it, while other women don’t do it.”

During the high school years, most people don’t want to draw attention to themselves. For certain, there are lots of teenagers who want to show off by their outfits, accessories, or their physical appearances. But, much more careful about what other people think and they end up being exactly like every other girl, in order to avoid standing out.

Eventually, the desire for not standing out goes away, too. You find yourself in front of the mirror, asking: “Being like every other woman… Does this make me happy?” And, when you actually try to follow your dreams that would make you happy, you may get embarrassed because you wanted something different from other women wanted.

However, you should get rid of that feeling of ashamed of yourself. Otherwise, you will be letting other people determine your value, or your next behaviors, again. If you are happy when you spend all your time looking after your kids and cleaning your home, there is nothing wrong about it, keep going. However, if you are not happy because you can’t follow your dreams, you should start to act different from what others want and find your way of happiness.

Another common excuse is to labeling yourself by saying: “I’m not that kind of person.” You are only demoralizing yourself thinking that you are not a successful or ambitious person. In fact, you’ll never know until you try. Achieving your goals takes more than just hoping and praying for the best.

Firstly, you should know the basics of planning. Thankfully, it’s not a god gift, so you can learn it in time. It will make you more organized and responsible. You’ll see some ways to get started in the next chapters.

3 – If you want to achieve your goals, you should stop looking for free time and start making time. 

At some point in their life, everybody turned down an exciting new idea by saying that it sounds good but there is no time for doing it. Well, this is one of the excuses, saying: “I don’t have time for that.” In order to start to do something different in your life, you should trust yourself, make time for yourself and most importantly, sacrifice for yourself.

At first, it will seem and feel like tough, but when you get rewards thanks to your sacrifices, it is going to worth it.

For starters, take your life into your hands. Don’t let anyone change or control your time and schedule. It will be you who is the owner your of your life. Your profession doesn’t matter in this, you can be a principal of a school or a housewife who never leaves home.

Use your time wisely to reach your goals. There are lots of examples that show us the determination of women: a CEO who makes time to train for marathons, a housewife who is the owner of a well-known shopping site, and disabled women who have lots of medals in their houses. If these women can do it, you can do it, too!

There might be behavioral changes that you are not so willing to do, but they will eventually pay off and you will be closer to achieving your dreams. Then, you will realize that the things that you don’t do it anymore are actually not that much important in your life.

Most of the people struggle to make time for themselves. So as to solve that problem, you should try making a schedule that shows what to do in every hour to fully spend the week. Then, you need to find a minimum of 5 hours of the week for yourself to achieve your goal. You can choose hours according to your lifestyle, it is important that you have enough energy in those hours. If it’s all set, you can try out your schedule. And, during that week you can consider what to do to your schedule to work better for you in the following weeks.

“I don’t have that in me.” This is another common excuse that people use. They think that they don’t have that achievement talent in their nature. Put it differently, they feel insecure about themselves.

Lots of people think this way because of their past experiences. The reason might be the unloving parents that told you’d never succeed or other students who mock you or an angry teacher who gave you low mark just because he didn’t like your behavior.

However, it doesn’t have to be like that way. You should never let the past affect your future decisions. Everyone has a different kind of personal development methods. Some people stay on their own to do their thing, and some people need people around to make it better. The important thing is that if you really want to achieve something, you should figure out what is the best way that works out for you.

4 – Worrying about what others may think and the fear of failure prevent you from what you actually want to achieve.

Have you ever felt selfish because you do something for the sake of self-improvement? Hopefully, you don’t ever feel like that. But unfortunately, there is this thing called “mommy guilt” which makes women feel guilty, put aside their own dreams and devote themselves to their home and children. Because of this guilt, many women give up on their higher education or career plans.

This leads us to the next common excuse: What others may think?

In order to achieve our goals, we need to be selfish, sometimes, but not often. Hollis’ father’s professor said something when Mr. Hollis started his Ph.D. studies: “You have to be selfish in order to make time for the grueling coursework and thesis writing ahead.” And they were selfish, otherwise, it is most probably that their families and friends would talk them out of it.

I suppose that you already met a lot of judgmental fools until now. Do you think that their opinions really matter? You know that they will always find something to criticize whatever you do in your life, don’t you? So, why do you waste your time worrying about what they think about you? Just listen to your heart and pursue your dreams.

Fear of failure comes from the same matter: worrying what others think. It prevents you to achieve your personal goals. In fact, people scared of what others will think of them when they fail. Failing itself is not a scary one.

Rachel Hollis also had lots of failures. For instance, she tried to manage a PR work for her previous books to debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Even though her fans in social media help her through this, she couldn’t get to that list. Look at her career right now. Does she look like she had given up? No.

The reason why she hadn’t given up is that it is totally natural to fail, despite all the effort you put. What matters most is how you handle your failures to make them valuable lessons. Rachel gained lessons from her failures and strengthen her ability to carry on following her dreams. She knows that life is better with successes, so she always wants more and gets more.

In the way of pursuing your dreams, the only person knowing what’s best for you is you. So, you should stop letting others interrupt your decisions in life. Also, a tip for you: Believe it or not, people don’t think about you more than you suspect.

5 – You should change the outdated behaviors and start to focus on one target at a time and ask for help.

For hundreds of years, society had traditional and also outdated norms. One of them says that good girls shouldn’t talk about the money they have. What they should do is to be well-behaved and contented with what life provides for them.

American historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” in 1976. Moreover, this sentence became the title of her book that she published in 2007. This golden sentence implies that you should embrace your passions and adopt new behaviors in order to pursue and reach your dreams.

Firstly, you don’t need to ask for permission. Most of us have been raised in the male authority societies, that’s why we — women feel the urge of getting approval from them. However, that’s not necessary. For the sake of pursuing your goals, you are the authority in your own life.

Secondly, it is okay to have dreams of more than one. But, you should focus on them one by one. Hollis says: “When everything is important, nothing is important.”Having lots of dreams in different fields seem appealing and less risky. Lots of people think that if one plan fails, carrying on with the other plan is reasonable. It is true, but there is also less chance of anything significant happening.

You don’t know how to focus on one goal? Here is the 10-10-1 plan. Think about yourself 10 years from now on. How do you see yourself? Write every specific detail about your life. It could be your job, your family, or your food in one specific morning, or even your clothes in a wedding ceremony.

After writing down what you saw, think about 10 dreams to help you realizing your imagined future. Then, you will choose the most important goal of those dreams. In the end, you will have 10 years, 10 dreams and 1 goal in your hand. In order to make it more effective, you should create a measurable goal like “I will have 2 cars and 2 houses.” If you say “I will be a rich person.”, it wouldn’t be a clear goal and reaching your plan would get harder.

The last part of the 10-10-1 plan is to writing your 10 dreams every single day. But, not as future statements like “I will”, “I want”, or “I wish”, you should write present statements as if you are already living in that dream: “ I am a great CEO in my company.”, “I live on the coast with my cats and dogs.” Writing and seeing these will increase your energy and keep you motivated for your dreams.

6 – The first step of being successful is to have a solid foundation.

All of us have role models for ourselves and we are keen to think that our role models don’t get any help and do their work on their own. However, that’s not true. Every role model you know has a team that helps her. This could be her family, her friends or her workers. What matters is that they are focused on the same thing: success.

That’s why your new behavior should be related to getting help from others. If you want to be successful, you need help from the people around you. You don’t have to do everything all yourself. Family, friends, teachers, counselors, or coaches… Whoever you think is supportive about your goals, don’t hesitate to ask for help from them. Nonetheless, if you don’t have a solid foundation for yourself, their support may not be enough.

So as to follow your dreams efficiently, make sure that you have foundational practices. For example, you need to have a healthy lifestyle in which you take long walks every day, stay dehydrated, eat healthily, and sleep well.

Take a look at the people around you, people that you hang out. If you are the smartest person in your circle, you need to expand a little bit for the purpose of finding smarter people than you. As long as you stay with the same people, you will do the same things over and over. However, smarter people will educate you, surprise you, and you will feel better around them.

One of the essentials in a solid foundation is the morning routine. Think about what do you do every morning from the time you wake up. Most probably, without any organization, it would go chaotic and badly affect the rest of your day. But, if you had a plan, your morning and the rest of your day would go perfectly.

Rachel Hollis describes her perfect morning like this: She wakes up at 5:00 a.m, she meditates and writes. After she does some journal writing she also writes her 10-10-1 plan. When her kids wake up, she feeds them and gets them off to school. After that, she drinks her morning smoothie, while listening to music and plans the rest of her day.

The last behavior you should adopt is to learn how to say “No.” How do you handle your decision-making processes? If you don’t have an obvious “Yes!” answer for a question, then your answer should be a kind “No.” Don’t say maybe, it will make the decision-making worse. Your responses should be honest and polite all the time.

7 – In order to continue having achievements, you should acquire some helpful skills.

On the way for sustaining success, not only you should have a solid foundation, but also you should acquire some skills that help you achieve your goals. For sure, you need to have persistence on your skills, otherwise, you would be flogging a dead horse.

One of the skills that you should acquire first is planning. How good you are at it? If you think you are terrible at it, then you should try the “road map exercise”. In this exercise, firstly draw a finish line and write your goal there. Then, you go back and think about what you should do to reach the finish line. Try to find as many valuable ideas as you can. Later, you need to select the three most important ideas which will be your smaller goals on the way for reaching your primary goal.

Let’s say your dream is to be a famous singer. Even though you have a beautiful voice that everyone around you likes, you still need to make yourself known in order to be a famous singer. In this scenario, your 3 smaller goals would be being self-confident and powerful while singing, hiring a PR specialist to make you famous and a manager to handle your gigs.

Not only the singers, who perform in front of hundreds of people, need confidence. Anyone who needs sustaining success needs confidence. Men have more confidence than women in business. According to a study, men apply for jobs even though they don’t fully meet the position criteria. However, women tend to apply for jobs only if they are fully qualified for the position.

Certainly, it is okay to acquire confidence later on the job. The more you practice, the more you get better. Just think about your first job, most probably you were a clumsy rookie, and a couple of weeks later you realized that you are better than the first day. What really matters is that when you get that confidence, grab it firmly and never lose it, then, you will see that the success won’t leave your door.

A successful person never gives up on learning, she always strives for an education. This is another skill that should be acquired: persistence and effectiveness. Your self-improvement should never stop. With the effectiveness, your goals become more specific like putting “Run 3200 meters today.” on your to-do list. You will realize that it will be a much more effective strategy.

Don’t forget to have positivity in yourself no matter what you do. It will make you motivated and let you have a different perspective on life. It is not an easy attitude to have in chaotic situations but, you will get to there and you will get the control in your hands.

Last but not least, you have to acquire the skill of leadership. It may not be your innate capability. However, you can always learn to be a good leader. Not all the leaders are the suit and tie guys roaming around in the big companies. Leadership is broader than that. You need to understand that you are also a leader. A leader of your own.

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

In today’s patriarchal societies, many women feel that they need to obey the outdated norms of the society and when they don’t, they feel the urge of apologizing. However, that should stop. Women don’t have to apologize or get approval from men just because they want to pursue their dreams. Also, in order to reach their goals, women should adopt behaviors like more focusing, building a solid foundation and knowing when to say “No.” Skills like planning, persistence, and positivity are equally important, too.

Don’t lose interest in your dreams simply because others realized the same dreams. You might think that there are lots of people doing the same thing and you don’t have a chance between them. However, that’s not the case all the time. There are many examples of start-ups that failed in the first place and got bigger and bigger. Therefore, if you want to be a singer, focus on your producing. Stop worrying about the other singers that are compared to you. You just need to take the first step and keep improving yourself.

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