Author, speaker, and influencer Rachel Hollis may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But guess what? She doesn’t care. And that’s the number one reason I love her:
- Hollis reminds us to value ourselves and our work, regardless of what other folks might think or say.
In Girl, Wash Your Face, Hollis writes: “Someone else’s opinion is not your business.” Hollis’ words resonate with me deeply, especially now that I am on a publishing journey and live in constant fear that someone out there that I have never met will say something mean about my book.
The reality is that this will and has happened and, amazingly, the Earth has continued to turn.
It stings, of course, to have someone dislike you and/or your work. And while feedback has its place, I think what Hollis is saying is that caring too much about what strangers on the Internet might think about you can have real damage. It can stop you from taking chances, creating, or putting yourself out there in the first place. You have to give up trying to control other people and their opinions; it is not a battle you can win.
Not letting others’ negative opinions get to you is easier said than done, but I’ve really appreciated Hollis’ messaging on this topic. Reminding myself of why I write and who I am writing for helps me to stay focused and working.
- Hollis doesn’t pretend it’s all effortless.
If you are a woman who has children and who also works, you have probably been asked, at some point, how you do it. If you are a super-successful woman, like Hollis, you might also be expected to answer that you simply work really hard, or that you just really really want it, or that you have a great husband. You might answer that you’re just so #blessed.
In Girl, Stop Apologizing, Hollis is honest about just how much “help” she has behind the scenes. She writes, “We have a full-time nanny, and we’ve had one since our oldest was three months old. Because of moves or additional kids added to our family, we’ve had three separate nannies (though not all at once) in our history as a family. These women—Martha, Jojo, and now Angie—have loved my children well and made it possible for me to pursue my career while Dave pursued his.” She writes that they also have a housekeeper as well as a work team and and an assistant.
First, I love that she gets specific about the kind of help she has. Her answer isn’t so vague as to be meaningless. Second, I think it is super cool that she notes that this staff has also enabled her husband’s success. This is a good reminder that when we don’t ask men how they balance work and family, we assume that they don’t have to. In this way, we naturalize the thinking that men don’t have to care for the children or clean the house because, of course, there is some woman (usually a wife) behind the scenes orchestrating it all.
Too often the folks who make households run are rendered invisible. I so appreciate Hollis’ honesty around these issues of work, family, and gender. For our family, excellent and affordable childcare has been absolutely essential to our ability to function. When my kids were small, they were able to attend the Children’s Greenhouse daycare at Nassau Community College and it was just the most amazing and nurturing environment for our entire family. I would not have been able to write either of my books–Home is Where the Hurt Is or Iphigenia Murphy–if we hadn’t been able to access this kind of support. Excellent childcare should be available for all families that want it.
- Hollis Calls On Us to Be Inclusive
I’m not a religious person and when I first picked up Hollis’ books I thought I might feel put-off by some of the Christian stuff. But I wasn’t, because Hollis’ Christianity, it seems to me, is based on love and inclusion. In particular, I really admire how she asks us to look at our communities and to consider if we are surrounding ourselves with people who are already just like us–are we only hanging out with people who look like us and make the same amount of money we do and have the same political, religious, and social views? This is so limiting. Hollis writes, “Everybody should be at your table. Everybody should be on your stage. Everybody should be on your staff. Everybody should be invited to your kid’s birthday party. Everybody should be welcome in your church. Everybody should be invited over for dinner.”
Hollis’ commitment to diversity is clear across her various platforms, including in her books, on her podcast and in her social media. And her message is one that I do and will take seriously in my writing and marketing journey.
As a reader, I seek out books by people who might have a different perspective than I do. And I’ve tried, in my novel, to amplify the stories of folks that don’t always take center stage, to take on issues, including sibling sexual abuse and teen homelessness, that I think we can do a better job of talking about. Finally, in my work to promote my book, I make sure to give shout-outs to authors whose work I think deserves more attention or who might not have the same platform that I do.
Hollis Encourages Creativity, Risk-Taking, and Commitment
Throughout her books and podcasts and conferences, Hollis urges women to be unapologetically ambitious, to name and pursue their dreams, and to shrug off the predictable and often sexist backlash they’ll receive as a result.
These are the kinds of messages that so many writers–and women writers in particular–need to have embroidered on their pillowcases:
- You have something to offer. Not everybody is going to like it, but that doesn’t matter.
- It’s okay to make your writing a priority and to ask for help in doing so.
- Everyone has something to offer; you will benefit from surrounding yourself with a diversity of voices.