Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ten Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Went Out into the Real World by Maria Shriver

First published in 2000.

I wrote this book so that you might be spared. Not from having to learn the lessons I had to learn. No one can spare you that, because learning is experimental, and you have to do it yourself. As a wise person once told me: If I could spare you the pain you're experiencing, I wouldn't - because I wouldn't want to deprive you of the strength and wisdom you'll gain from having gone through it and come out on the other side.

Each and every one of you is a powerful, resilient human being capable of living the life you design for yourself. I wish all of you the faith and the courage to pinpoint your passion.
(book back blurb)

My mom gets me these impulse buy books all the time. You know the ones: you’re waiting in the check-out line at Barnes and Noble and they’re on the turnstile right next to you. They’re usually uplifting or inspirational. Sometimes they have cute pictures of animals in them or they’re filled with jokes. Well I’ve amassed a small collection of them thanks to my mom over the years and I’ve just now started reading them (bad daughter, I know). While I’m convinced my mom’s trying to tell me something with one of the religious ones she gave me (she said she had no idea), they do carry some nice, short reads. Most of them are just the types of things you read, go ‘oh, that’s nice’ and tuck away on your shelf.

This one, though, this one’s different. Same size and shape as the other impulse books but the message is much more resounding, poignant and literal, regardless of the fact it’s told by a Kennedy (for those that don't like the family). My mom bugged me for the longest time (we’re talking years here) to read this book because she thought I’d get some use out of it. And for years I just kind of brushed it aside and let it collect dust. Why read it now, you ask? Well, I cleaned off my bookshelves because I’m short on space and said ‘why not?’

What Maria states in this book was originally a commencement speech she’d given at a college. She was approached afterwards to turn it into a book and I can definitely see why. Each and every one of the points she’d made in this book (even the ones about marriage and kids, which I’m further from than anything) hit home. A lot of the lessons she’s trying to teach I’ve already learned and some I need to be reminded about again, even though I didn’t want to hear about it.

In case you’re interested, here are her ten things–

First and Foremost, Pinpoint Your Passion

No Job is Beneath You

Who You Work for and With is as Important as What You Do

Your Behavior has Consequences

Be Willing to Fail

Superwoman is Dead . . . and Superman May Be Taking Viagra

Children Do Change Your Career (Not to Mention Your Entire Life)

Marriage is a Hell of a Lot of Work

Don’t Expect Anyone Else to Support Your Financially


Really, they’re very simple points and I just don’t think I can do them justice by highlighting what I think about them. I think reading this information from a Kennedy, a woman born into privilege, who could have rightly had everything handed to her, and chose not to, makes it that much more humbling and hard hitting. The fact that a Kennedy isn’t above learning these life lessons, neither should you be.

In the same breath I wish I’d listened to my mom sooner about this book and at the same time I’m glad I didn’t. At twenty-five I’ve experienced a lot more than many people my own age and, in turn, I know many people my age and younger that are doing things (namely starting families) that I haven’t even considered yet. I do consider myself wise beyond my years (it’s the old soul thing) but I don’t know it all and I certainly haven’t experienced it all either. I don’t know if I could have appreciated this book when I first got it as I do now. I don’t know if I would have just said ‘yeah, whatever’ and tossed it aside or if I would have been as enlightened then as I am now. I guess I’ll never know.

Everyone needs a humbling and everyone still has lessons to learn. Go grab this book and read it. I’m sure you’ve learned some of these things already and have yet to experience others (like I have). And even if you know them, you might not want to admit to yourself that you should be doing them (like being willing to fail) but need a reminder that it is OK to do it (like everyone, myself included, should). This is definitely one of those impulse buys worth grabbing for.

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