What Amy Poehler has taught me

I knew reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Please would be A Big Deal. I am already an enormous fan of Amy’s, both as Leslie Knope (be still my heart) and other comic characters, and just as a person, through stuff like Smart Girls at the Party, and her unrelenting excellence in general. I eagerly awaited her book and ate up any snippets that were released, but added it to my Christmas list rather than buying it myself, possibly to add to the anticipation of reading it. My excellent brother bought it for me, I unwrapped it on the 27th December and immediately started devouring it.

One thing you should know about me: I love defacing books. I imagine this will offend the sensibilities of some of my friends, convinced of the sanctity of the physical book as they may be. Not a bad way to live, I’m sure, but I’m more a fan of bending spines, folding corners and scribbling marginalia. Academically, it helps me take things in and reminds me of where I need to return when writing up notes. That filthy habit has trickled into my recreational reading, and so my copies of Mindy Kaling’s Is It Just Me…? and Owen Jones’ Chavs among others are peppered with underlinings, highlightings and exclamation marks.

I already knew that Yes Please would present countless nuggety quotes I would want to remember, which is why I started reading it with a yellow highlighter in my hand. But upon reaching page 101 on January 1st I knew I wanted to properly remember the parts I’d highlighted. I also knew I wanted 2015 to be a more optimistic year than the previous one, and keeping these quotes to hand might help with that. So, uncompelling as it may be, here’s everything I highlighted as I laughed, sighed, grinned and cried my way through Amy Poehler’s Yes Please.

“You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing.” (xv)

“The open-faced sandwiches who take risks and live big and smile with all of their teeth. These are the people I want to be around.” (xv-xvi)

“We all have a tiny, whispery voice inside of us, but the bad ones are usually at a lower register and come through a little clearer.” (8)

“Sticking up for ourselves the same way we would one of our friends is a hard but satisfying thing to do.” (23)

“Going from crying to laughing that fast and hard happens maybe five times in your life and that extreme right turn is the reason why we are alive, and I believe it extends our life by many years.” (38)

“It takes years for a woman to unlearn what you have taught to be sorry for.” (65)

“Any painful experience makes you see things differently. It also reminds you of the simple truths that we purposely forget every day or else we would never get out of bed.” (88)

“Fighting ageing is like the War on Drugs. It’s expensive, does more harm than good, and has been proven to never end.” (98)

“I am interested in people who swim in the deep end. I want to have conversations about real things with people who have experienced real things. I’m tired of talking about movies and gossiping with friends. Life is crunchy and complicated and all the more delicious.” (101)

“Watching great people do what they love is a good way to start learning how to do it yourself…I remember thinking ‘You are all so good and I wish I were better. Now get out of here because I want to be where you are.'” (109)

The ENTIRE chapter on sleep. It was like reading my own diaries.

“…how a person treats their waitress is a great indication of their character.” (211)

“Everybody wants you to share your MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT all the time, and I am here to tell you that you don’t have to. You don’t have to tell it or tweet it or Instagram it. You don’t have to put it in a book or share it with anyone who doesn’t feel safe and protective of your heart.” (221)

“You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel but not about how good other people think you are or how good people think you look.” (225)

“However, if you do start crying in an argument and someone asks why, you can always say ‘I’m crying because of how wrong you are.'” (237)

“Emotions are like passing storms, and you have to remind yourself that it won’t rain forever. You just have to sit down and watch it pour outside and then peek your head out when it looks dry.” (238)

(If you think I didn’t cry all the way through the Parks and Recreation chapters, you’re sadly mistaken.)

“My life was an open suitcase and my clothes were strewn all over the street.” (305)

“There are so many people in the world with so little. Who cares why you decide to help?” (306)

“Spontaneous dance parties are important in my life. I have one in the makeup trailer almost every afternoon on Parks and Recreation. Dancing is the great equalizer. It gets people out of their heads and into their bodies. I think if you can dance and be free and not embarrassed you can rule the world.” (325)

“I arrived in San Francisco with that rare combination of sadness and joy. There should be a name for that feeling. Maybe it’s ‘intimacy'”. (326)

“The only way we survive is by being kind. The only way we can get by in this world is through the help we receive from others. No one can do it alone, no matter how great the machines are.” (329)

and Amy, elsewhere.

Q: What’s one thing every woman should try at least once in her life?
Amy: Treating herself as kindly as she would her own daughter.

“When you feel scared, hold someone’s hand and look into their eyes. And when you feel brave, do the same thing.”

“Continue to share your heart with people even after it’s been broken. Don’t treat your heart like an action figure, wrapped in plastic and never used. Don’t try to give me that nerd argument that your heard is a Batman with a limited edition silver batarang, and therefore if it stays in the original packaging it increases with value.”

“Any time you talk to anyone about something that they love they’re, like, their most beautiful. It’s a cool gift to get to talk to people about what they love.”

“I just love bossy women. I could be around them all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading, like, “All right, everybody, now we go over here. All right, now this happens.”

“You can’t look stupid if you’re having fun.”

Thanks, Amy Poehler. I’ve learnt a lot from you.