Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘You are a Badass’ by Jen Sincero is an insightfully hilarious bestseller

(Official Jen Sincero Facebook Page)

I was meandering aimlessly around a shop in Grand Central Station over winter break looking for something to read on the train—that about summed up my criteria for the purchase. I was open to anything, really. I just wanted to get back into a habit I had sourly fallen out of: reading for pleasure.

With a bright yellow cover and bold black bubble letters, Jen Sincero’s self-help novel “You are a Badass” drew me in. Equal parts apprehensive and excitedly curious, I approached the counter, hoping that no one would see me buying a self-help book in the middle of a bustling train station. It felt like an intimate moment, I guess.

Once cozied into my red pleather metro seat, alongside my treasured Shake Shack, I read the book’s introduction.

I noticed that “You are a Badass” was separated into five parts: “How you got this way,” “How to embrace your inner badass,” “How to tap into the mother lode,” “How to get over your B.S. already,” and finally, “How to kick some ass.”

It could have been my less than ideal reading environment on the bumpy train or the impatience I felt to hurry up and get off, but I wasn’t immediately enthralled with the book. I was resistant to Sincero’s advice and confidence that everyone was destined for an “awesome life.” So I put the book down, returning to my ever-exciting role as student reading academic journals and content of the sorts.

Over spring break, pinched inside a middle seat on my plane ride home from Washington D.C., I gave the book another try. While my surroundings were challenging once again, this time I was hooked. Suddenly, I was having these “wow” moments where everything Sincero said just made so much sense. Her words began echoing like a mantra in my head.

In the midst of an age where I’ve decided that everyone I allow into my life should serve some kind of mutually beneficial purpose, I was extremely comforted by Sincero’s understanding of self-perception and its power, of the importance of surrounding yourself with people who you admire and of ditching the self-deprecating humor and, most importantly and cornily, loving yourself.

Sincero adds to the discussion about ditching self-deprecating humor by saying, “I get it… there’s nobody I’d more enjoy backing over with my car than the guy who can’t laugh at himself, but I’m talking about the nonstop, self-flagellating I Suckfest.” Moments like this during the book help to illustrate Sincero’s humor in handling life’s curve balls and practiced ability in staying cool even when conflicts in your life are heating up.

The mix of unembarrassed honesty and personal anecdotes really added to the overall novel in the sense that listening to someone else’s struggles, which were similar to my own, made it much easier for me to take the advice.

Once you realize the person trying to advise you has been in your shoes before, it’s simpler to realize you can be where they are now.

This approach also did something to dissipate the preachy, stereotypical self-help book attitude that many books employ in claiming to have a magic ability to fix people. Rather, Sincero presents herself as a smart and spunky educated woman who, through her own personal growth, realizes she has acquired some knowledge that could help you through the muck, but only if you’re willing to be a better you. Stop making excuses for the things you feel are unattainable. This is an idea that Sincero stresses is merely about perception.

In the book Sincero proposes “what you chose to focus on becomes your reality.” I found this simple yet innovative statement to be incredibly profound. Sincero means what you chose to pay attention to becomes your daily surroundings, conversations and people in your life.

An example that helped me contextualize this concept was thinking about my morning commute to school. Sometimes I take the bus, other times I get a ride. But I’m nearly always focused on how tired I am. All I want to do is sleep. I’m not noticing the flowers blooming along the back roads, the warm sun slowly melting the snow or even the other cars around me. Despite the fact that these are small, seemingly insignificant details, the absence of my focus nearly deletes them from my reality. Thus, I miss out on the first signs of spring.

In her novel, Sincero often displays the belief throughout the novel that you are nobody else’s responsibility. You’re at your own mercy, and here at this pivotal place in a world of opportunities you have the tools to be anything you want. You simply need to actively engage, know what you want and work toward it with an unwavering ferocity.

As it turns out, I quite like reading self-help books, or rather I quite like reading self-help books by Jen Sincero.

Gina Lopez can be reached at [email protected].

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