Let’s start with some Real Talk
This book has terrified me. I consider myself a hard worker, someone who puts my head down and focuses on the task in front of me. But while writing this book, I pushed deadlines, ignored calendar invites, and got really creative when it came to procrastinating. I reorganized my entire kitchen. I took out my label maker and labeled a package of Oreos with a label that said . . . “OREOS.” You know, to avoid any possible cookie confusion. I convinced myself that that was more productive than writing this book.
Why was this book so hard to write? It’s been a challenge because over the past year or two I haven’t felt like the successful, happy, energetic Lilly that everyone claims me to be. In 2020, the world quite literally collapsed, my physical and mental health deteriorated, and I have a new friend who just won’t leave, named Anxiety Singh.
I wanted to write an inspirational book. After all, I’m all about hustling, and I’ve already written a successful self-help book called How to Be a Bawse (this will be the only plug for my other book, I promise! . . . you should get it). I wear power suits, baby! I’m a smiley person who always seems highly caffeinated. I knew people were going to expect this book to be a literary energy drink. So, I sat down and tried writing pages filled with what I thought I was supposed to say: mantras, tips, tricks, love yourself, quote, quote, quote, *insert the word “energy” ten times here.* And every time I sat down to write, I got lost. Day after day I would sit at my computer and try to convince myself I had the answers for you and for me, but I simply didn’t. I wasn’t even the best version of myself and yet I was trying to get into Club Thrive like I belonged there. My life felt uninspiring and mundane.
And then a realization hit me like my mother’s slipper. Maybe this low point was actually the perfect place from which to write THIS book. You see, THIS book isn’t a book filled with ideas and thoughts I’m hoping will work. THIS book is filled with ideas and thoughts that are tried and tested by me and have worked. The only way to write this book was by going on the journey. And girl, was it quite the journey.
After all, it’s pretty whack for me to try to give you ideas about how to get your life into shape when I haven’t figured out how to do so myself. That would be a facade of wisdom that I generally like to reserve for Instagram, where it belongs. Catch me on the ’gram doing a staged yoga pose incorrectly any day! Plus, who wants to hear from a person who has it all figured out? Not me. I hate when I’m venting about something and someone replies with “Oh really? I don’t have those issues at all.” WTF, Raj? I’m not here confessing my negative feelings so that you can tell me you have positive ones all the time. I’d rather spill those feelings to Priya, who is also a hot mess, so we can try to work on ourselves together.
And that’s what this book is—a chance to work through negativity together. I’m your Priya.
Wait, no. I’m Lilly. MY NAME IS LILLY. *prints out label* *labels self Lilly Singh*
I’m doing it again . . .
Recently my life has felt kind of sucky. Within these pages, I’m hoping to figure out why. More important, I’m hoping to make a lasting change, for myself and for anyone else who needs it. And so, through meditations, reflections, tough love, sunny moments, deep conversations, and 200% honesty, I have gone on the journey and written this book. Tried and tested. There is nothing in these pages that has not deeply impacted my life for the better.
I sincerely hope it speaks to your soul.
I really need to Be a Triangle
As I sit here and think about how to make life less sucky, I find myself returning to elementary school.
Minus not being able to date a Backstreet Boy, things were simpler then. When I was faced with a problem, a teacher taught me how to solve it. I did homework that further developed my skills. I would be tested on those skills to ensure I thoroughly understood what I had learned. And if I continued to struggle, I would be given extra help. My teachers really wanted me to understand the Pythagorean theorem and damn it, they made it happen. We made it happen. I know triangles better than I know my best friend’s phone number (which I don’t know at all), and I’m patiently waiting to apply that valuable knowledge in my real life. Any minute now!
Even outside of academics, all my life I’ve applied my problem-solving skills to whatever task was in front of me. While shooting late-night television, my crew and I faced unexpected problems every single day. An email titled “Guest can no longer make it tonight” would cause multiple departments to go into problem-solving beast mode. The talent team would put out calls for a last-minute booking. The writers would start brainstorming extra jokes to make our existing segments longer. And I would go out and improv with the crowd to buy us time. Over and over again we solved the problem because we were trained to do so. We had the skills, knew what needed to be done, and wasted no time.
Why am I telling you this nonsense? Because throughout my life—whether academically or professionally—I’ve faced challenges that I’ve met head-on. In school or at work, I not only understood the obstacles that stood in my way, but knew what the goal was once I overcame them: good grades, a degree, a paycheck, or a promotion. Although not always easy, it was always very clear and clean.
Despite all the problem-solving skills I learned, there was one major thing that I wasn’t taught in school or the workplace: how to live a fulfilling life. This is not as clear and clean. In fact, I wasn’t even taught that life could and should be fulfilling! I was never taught the importance of self-love, positive self-talk, happiness, or personal growth.
Growth was always measured by a grade or salary, never by an increase in compassion or patience. Not once was I encouraged to have critical conversations about the person I was or the kind of life I desired. I dissected the pain and trauma of countless Shakespearean plays in class, but I never once analyzed my own loss and heartache. At home, things weren’t much different. My family was more concerned with teaching me how to clean my room than with helping me boost my self-esteem. And did an aunty ever compliment my self-awareness like she did my outfit? No way. Why would she? My immigrant family was never afforded those luxuries either. They left behind a familiar life in India and had to learn an entire new way of life in order to survive in Canada. Between working two jobs, raising kids, learning a new language and culture, and remembering to drive on the right side of the road, there was little time to focus on what was happening in their mind and heart. As a result, no one in my family ever sat me down and gave me the “mental health talk” because they’d never heard it themselves.
The lack of value placed on mental health, and all things associated with it, during my childhood has finally caught up to me. I didn’t know it then, but I know now that living a fulfilling and happy life is way more important than all of the things you learn in school, at the office, or anywhere else. We’ve been conditioned to believe that our skills, status, and salaries should be valued more than our happiness. Or even worse, we’ve convinced ourselves that these are the main things that should bring us happiness in the first place. But I don’t believe that’s true.
A lot of times when I talk about living a fulfilling life and prioritizing happiness, I meet resistance, especially from an older generation. Some people, my relatives included, would consider the decision to prioritize happiness a selfish one. I know this because whenever I write about my decision to do so in an Instagram caption, my mom comments, “must be nice fool *clown emoji*.” I’m kidding. My mom doesn’t know how to use the clown emoji, but the rest is true.
Copyright © 2022 by Lilly Singh. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.