This Amy Poehler Quote From 'Yes Please' Helped Me Get Through A Tough Time In My Career
When I picked up Amy Poehler's Yes Please, I felt deeply insecure about my career. I had recently graduated from college and moved to New York City to pursue my Big City Dream of working in the publishing industry. Instead, I split my time between an internship, two part-time jobs, and endless applications. I naively thought I would land a job as an editorial assistant soon after graduation, but instead, I spent most of my time moving boxes of books. I was excited to be in NYC, but I was also a little frustrated, and very, very tired.
Poehler's book — with its neon pink lettering and bold photograph of the author — called out to me from the shelves of the Barnes & Noble where I worked. Even though I couldn't really afford it, I used my employee discount to get my own copy of her memoir.
Yes Please is a beautiful, generous, heartfelt book, but there was one piece of advice that struck me more than any other: "Treat your career like a bad boyfriend."
OK, let me allow her to explain:
I jotted "Treat your career like a bad boyfriend." on the whiteboard next to my desk. When I felt overwhelmed by my lack of editorial job prospects, I would think about that quote. It was the perfect reminder to me that I didn't have to be everything all at once.
At the time, I was taking my own career (or lack thereof) way too seriously. I felt frustrated that my early 20s hadn't panned out exactly as I'd envisioned, and I was desperate to achieve the goals that I had set. I put too much pressure on myself to be perfect all the time. I proofread emails so many time, I barely got anything done. Once, after my register tallied $11 short during a shift at Barnes and Noble, I cried myself to sleep. Every mistake felt like an explanation for why I hadn't achieved my goal of being an editor. I beat myself up for not being better, whatever that meant.
I had to learn that mistakes happen. I had to learn that things won't always turn out the way you imagined or hoped. But I took Poehler's advice, and I stepped back. Once I did, I made discoveries about myself and encountered unexpected opportunities. I tried on some jobs that weren't quite right, and I found some jobs that I really loved. I figured out what I wanted from life outside a career in publishing. At some point, I also realized that I didn't want a career in publishing at all. My life stopped being about becoming "successful," and as it changed, I started to feel more confident in who I was and who I was capable of becoming.
This is not to say that I don't care about my career any longer. I definitely do. But on those days when it seems like my career doesn't care about me, I just remind myself that my career is just a bad boyfriend. It doesn't have to define who I am.