“As adults, most of us have forgotten how to be silly. The first rule of going outside our comfort zone is learning to laugh at ourselves.”
Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares is a novel in which one woman, Sherry Stanfa-Stanley, undertakes a year of pushing her limits in order to discover who she is and what she is capable of.
To really appreciate and understand this book, it’s important to know that this book is a series of blog posts from the authors blog. When she turned 52, she created the 52/52 project. 52 experiences as a 52 year old woman, all designed to test her limits and really push her outside her comfort zone.
As a reader newly discovering this author, the book did feel choppy and was hard to read as a book. I can see the appeal as a weekly blog, as each piece focuses on one task from her list. In book format though, there’s nothing to tie the pieces together. She even mentions that she often interacts with her Facebook group, so the weekly experience of discovering what she is planning and experiencing would be far more satisfying than reading in this format.
Formatting aside, the entries themselves were fun to read. Stanfa-Stanley is funny and I can picture my mother doing these things with much of the same commentary and horror. Who wouldn’t simultaneously laugh and cringe at the prospect of taking your elderly mother to a nude beach?! Or to the shock of getting a brazilian wax for the first time?
It might be easy to dismiss some of these challenges as tepid or fairly modest. It’s not as if everyone will find zip-lining or going for a hot air balloon ride as thrilling or limit pushing. And some women may even think a wax is an easy Tuesday appointment. Again, I do think having the context of the blog and Facebook page is helpful in relating to the author in these cases.
She does give context at the beginning of the book, explaining what sparked this journey. And it does help to remember this while reading the posts.
“Regardless of our motivations, at some point we decide to either continue sighing at the status quo of our lives or else we open our minds and our arms to embrace change. I chose change, albeit with trembling hands and a wavering mindset.”
Not every challenge was necessarily frivolous. Getting a colonoscopy, for example, is probably something most people are hesitant or fearful over. Being able to admit to this fear, and to complete the task anyway, perhaps can help someone else do the same.
And, not every challenge was accomplished, or accomplished the way she thought. Her plan to sing onstage with a band happened. But rather than the well-practiced and rehearsed version she was planning, it ended up being spontaneous. And, her attempt to complete a ropes course ended before it began. I did like that there was still a lesson to be learned, even in failure.
“Perhaps acknowledging our limitations is an essential part of self-discovery. Maybe we learn just as much about life and about ourselves by discovering our weaknesses as well as our strengths. Maybe we succeed in growing even as we fail.”
In an age where social media encourages us show only our success, it is important when someone is able to be honest and show the failure as well. And maybe that’s what makes this journey, and these posts as relatable as they are. Some things were fun and funny. But even when they are cringe-worthy or humiliating, Stanfa-Stanley shows us anyway. She lets us laugh with her and cry with her, and honestly, this is the bravest thing of all.
Overall, the book was entertaining. However, I think it could have been a little more compelling if, instead of simply compiling these blog posts, the author gave us more context into each post instead. Who helped come up with these challenges? What limits specifically was each designed to push? Were any chosen by other people, and if so, who? These types of thoughts and explanations would have added more dimension and depth. While the book was a fast and funny read, I would have really enjoyed it if it offered more than what I could get from already published posts.
This book did make me curious to find her blog and her Facebook page, as they do seem like an interactive group of people willing to push boundaries and find themselves. It sounds like a lot of fun.
Thank you to BookSparks and She Writes Press, for sending me this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.