Well, it’s a new year, which means NEW BOOKS! Or rather, I’m able to read the books I own that have been sitting on my desk or on my book shelf. But if I’m being completely honest with you, I have had no book shelf for the last 2 months and it’s nearly broken my heart. I’ve hit the low point where I walk in a Barnes and Noble and simply hug a book shelf. You know it’s bad. And slightly embarrassing.
My first book of the new year was Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham. Now, I should be upfront in saying, I didn’t know what to think about Lena. Everything I had seen of her made her look crazy and made me think she was absolutely insane. I mean, what girl in their right mind would be naked as much as her character Hannah on Girls? WHO WOULD DO THAT?! Yeah, NOT ME.
But, after binge watching Girls in … I don’t know… a week, I found the beauty that is Lena. Lena Dunham is a voice for women and girls everywhere and not just because she’s so comfortable with her femininity and sexuality, but because she embraces who she is and makes no excuses for it. Do I think we all should follow suit and get “naked” and celebrate being women? Not even close. But I do think we should get to a place where as women, we are comfortable with who we are, what we believe and use our voice for good. Lena shares all that and more in her book.
Reasons I loved Not That Kind of Girl:
1. Lena doesn’t care. She doesn’t. She doesn’t care who you are or what you think. She knows who she is and doesn’t make excuses for it. She loves who she is, embraces the flaws and tries very hard to understand who you are and what makes you tick. That is something every girl could take note of.
2. The importance of female relationships. I wrote awhile back about my top 5 women that I looked up to respected. As a woman myself, I have noticed there isn’t a lot of female camaraderie online. There’s a lot of back biting (which, I have participated in when I am live tweeting the Bachelor) and gossip, but there’s not a lot of encouragement. Lena talks about her friendships with her “girls” as the most important ones in her life. She shares that through disagreements, they challenged each other and grew. Maybe they but heads, but afterwards, there was always a moment of acknowledgment and celebration over coffee. That is hard to see. If someone disagrees with me, I want to talk it out! I want to know why you feel that way and why you feel it’s important for me to feel the same way you do. Not Lena. She and her friends respected each other’s thoughts and they discussed things and moved on. Impressive, no?
3. Sex. “Oh man, Lindsay said the ‘S’ word!” I did. Here’s the deal: while I may not be like Lena and sleep with people on a regular basis, sex is something most girls don’t know a whole lot about. Why? Because we’ve been taught it’s embarrassing. It’s not something you willingly talk about over coffee at Starbucks with your hipster friends. It’s not something you talk about at home, because your mom might say “shhhhh, not right now. We’ll talk later”. But Lena begins the reader’s journey with the most vulnerable journey she has ever been on: sex. She describes encounters that are not Hollywood in description; they are real and raw and uncomfortable. You feel like your watching your best friend make mistakes and have to live with them. It’s incredibly raw and yet she makes it seem like a journey of self discovery. Now, I am not saying “Go out my dear little sisters, and have sex and figure out what you want!” No no no! I would actually prefer you wait as long as possible and when you do make the decision to have sex with someone, let it be someone you love and preferably who you’re married to. There’s something special about sex and there’s a reason it’s meant for a deep relationship like marriage. Lena even describes an experience she didn’t even realize was rape. It’s heartbreaking but hearing her come out on the other side triumphant and unwillingly to let what happened to her define her trumps everything else. Moral of the story: don’t have sex. You will get chlamydia… and die. NAME THAT MOVIE AND YOU’LL GET A SHOUTOUT FROM ME. 🙂
4. Parental advice. Lena is a hilarious person. She shares her Top 10-15 things from her mom, dad and herself. Some of the things that stuck out to me were: “If someone doesn’t answer your email within 6 hours, it means they hate you”. or “keep your friends close. Buy your enemies something cool”. You can’t help but laugh at these! Why? Because I can probably hear my own parents saying some of the same things! Actually, I’m sure I’ve heard my parents say some of the same things and that’s what makes me love Lena and the Dunham’s even more.
5. It’s not easy being yourself, but if you won’t be you, who will? This is pure truth. You can try to morph into other versions of your friends, but the honest to God truth is, we NEED YOU, just the way you are in everyday life. It’s painful being who you really are sometimes. I speak from experience. I have anxiety problems and while I’ve managed to keep it under wraps, I’m pretty sure only a select few outside of my family have seen me absolutely meltdown. I wake up with an elephant on my chest and sometimes the elephant wins y’all and those moments suck. I become the pathetic version of myself. I become that girl who just cries and can’t breathe and just needs a tight space to sit in for awhile. The things that brought my anxiety up to the forefront came in many different forms, but only when I let it out I was having problems sleeping did someone help me. Anxiety ridden Lindsay is not who I really am. Merely a part right now. Not forever (please dear God), but for right now. It’s not fun snapping. It’s not fun feeling like I need to run away to a very quiet hole and hide. But its part of who I am right now. Anxiety and all, the world needs Lindsay, the real Lindsay, the one who even in painful situations can smile, breathe and ask you how you’re doing. The real Lindsay who is a listener first and then speaker second. The real Lindsay who because she’s been so helped by others, wants to reach out and help those who need it. The world needs you, whether painfully broken open or sealed up tight. The world needs your spark and vim and vigor. The world needs your gumption and that can only come from being who you really are. So don’t get nervous about what others think… Just show up. Breathe. And face forward… the things that happened behind you are behind you for a reason… let them stay there. Look ahead. Only greatness lies ahead. 🙂
My overall thought: Just read it. It’s worth it. Lena is among America’s treasures and you’ll want to know her before everyone else does. 🙂