Episode 126: LEVEL UP 2018!

Published on January 5, 2018.

Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.

Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.

Aminatou: I'm Aminatou Sow.

Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. This week we are thinking about the year ahead as a lot of people are at this time and we've asked a few amazing women to give us some advice, tips, like let us know what they're thinking about heading into this year when it comes to meeting professional goals, leveling up your political action, and personal growth, something we always care about.

[Theme Song]

Aminatou: Happy New Year Ann Friedman.

Ann: Happy 2018! How're you doing?

Aminatou: Oh my god, 2018. I just, I feel . . . I'm still signing 2013 on my checks so you can tell this is a hard year for me.

Ann: I mean I am always happy about a new year because I enjoy the psychological illusion of a fresh start even though we all know time is a circle. So I don't know. There's something that January puts me in a good mood.

Aminatou: Yeah, I don't do well until Q2 and Q4 so this is -- I mean Q3 and Q4, so this is all a blip for me.

Ann: This is like your year is still in the larval stage. It's not yet a beautiful butterfly.

Aminatou: Exactly. Exactly. I'm like the Gregorian calendar is just really out to mess with me.

Ann: I understand. I also respect that point-of-view. I have to admit it's also influenced by having a January birthday. Having a birthday that aligns very closely with a calendar yet I think is the double whammy that makes this the case for me.

Aminatou: Capricorn!

Ann: It's true.

Aminatou: It's almost your B-day. I love it.

Ann: So many birthdays in January. In my life my whole calendar is birthdays in January.

Aminatou: What have we got on tap today?

Ann: Okay, well, we . . .

Aminatou: I have literally never said the words "What do we have on tap today?" before in my entire life.

Ann: It was very . . . I had a flash to maybe this is what it's like to work with you in an office. Do you use phrases like that if you're actually at work? Not just working with your bestie?

Aminatou: [Laughs] Where I'm like can you bump that? Can we circle back?

Ann: Circle back?

Aminatou: What are other office phrases?

Ann: Touch base. I wanted to touch base.

Aminatou: Yeah, we need to touch base right now. Yeah, no.

Ann: Can we touch base in 2018?

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Can we never circle back to 2017 ever?

Aminatou: Never. What a nightmare year. But also we survived so it's fine.

Ann: It's fine. So this week we are thinking about the year ahead as a lot of people are at this time and we asked a few amazing women to give us some advice, tips, like let us know what they're thinking about heading into this year when it comes to meeting professional goals, leveling up your political action, and personal growth, something we always care about.

Aminatou: So you mean we called very competent women to tell us how to do 2018?

Ann: I love outsourcing this sort of thing. Yes, absolutely. [Laughs]

Aminatou: I mean some of these ladies are legends so it's kind of perfect.

Ann: Okay, tell me who left us messages. It's such a star-studded list.

Aminatou: Oh my god, I have chills. First up is Sabrina Hersi Issa who is maybe the most competent human being the world has ever seen. They should put her in charge of everything Jared is in charge of at the White House, namely the Middle East. Anyway, Sabrina talks to us about how not to feel pressured to meet all your goals in week one of the year, how to make space in your life to take your goals seriously and become your own as she calls it possibility model. Such a Sabrina-ism, it's perfect. Her hot tip is personal inventory days. Why should you listen to Sabrina? Sabrina is an award-winning human rights technologist focused on global advocacy and media innovation. She leads projects leveraging technology to improve access to direct services and press freedom. She runs Survivor Fund, that's a political fund dedicated to supporting the rights of survivors of sexualized violence. She's also on my personal board of directors. She's a badass.

Ann: And I have to say I asked Sabrina to record us this voicemail when I had lunch with her in the middle of 2017 and she mentioned this personal inventory days thing that she does. And honestly, you know how sometimes someone tells you something that you're like that seems like it should be really simple and obvious but it's not? It's so great. So happy to share her wisdom with the world.

Sabrina: Hi CYG listeners. I am Sabrina Hersi Issa. I work in technology and human rights and I run everything. I lead a digital agency called Be Bold Media. It's focused on global advocacy and media innovation. I run Survivor Fund, a political fund that is dedicated to championing the rights of sexual assaults survivors, and I'm a partner at Jump Cannon, a venture capital firm that invests in founders from unconventional and underrepresented backgrounds. Overall I believe technology and media can play a role in solving some of the most pressing justice issues of our time, so I lead a lot of projects in these spaces. I'm a proud boss lady. I'm proud of my work. But I have a full life that extends beyond work. So I'm going to share with you one of the practices I do to keep Brina, Inc. running in tip-top shape.

So people have different triggers when it comes time for things like anniversaries or the new year. I know we're all familiar with that feeling going into the new year where you realize oh, the year is almost over. I need to get my act together. Here's all my goals and resolutions I haven't looked at in a year. I need to get them all done in a week. And then you get really anxious trying to do all of the things only to flame out and then you spend the entire next week napping.

So for me that reflection trigger spiral was always around my birthday. For a ton of valid and not-so-valid reasons I always got irrationally worried and anxious for the future in the weeks leading up to my birthday. So I would fixate on trying to get my act together, whatever the hell that means, and then try to pull off some wild goals crammed before this random deadline of turning a year older. Or I would abandon those wild ambitions and instead worry and freak out about failing to meet some unreasonable expectations and then being left behind. Again, like whatever the hell that means.

So this happened year-after-year until I got very, very annoyed with myself which is what I needed to do in order to get very honest with myself. I had to really ask myself if attaining certain goals or doing a particular kind of work really mattered to me. Why was I not creating the space in my life to take that seriously? And if I did, what would that look like?

So I knew I needed to become my own possibility model and a lot of that ended up looking like setting up systems and infrastructure in my life to support my ambitions. So I want to introduce you to something I call personal inventory days.

In my Google Calendar on the recurring date of my birthday -- for example my birthday is April 16th, so on the 16th of every month I have a recurring event blocked off. It's called my personal inventory day. In my calendar you can call it something else if you want to, but whatever. This is the day dedicated to my personal life maintenance. Over the course of the month I track and add to lists of what I want to get done on my personal inventory day. I put it in an Evernote. That Evernote is linked into a Google Doc that I keep my general goals that I'm tracking and planning in.

But no matter what on the 16th of every single month this is the day you can find me doing things like checking my credit report, looking at my savings goals, and reviewing my personal budgets. Any necessary doctor's appointments or check-ups I need to have scheduled, they get made on this day. I take a look at my goals that I laid out in my annual planning and I use this day to review and I track my progress against them. Whatever I feel like I need to do to keep my life operations tight I execute on this day.

And so I also use this as an opportunity to take stock and reflect. You don't have to wait until the anniversary is right around the corner or the new year is right around the corner or your birthday is right around the corner. You can use this monthly trigger to sit down and ask yourself -- this is what I usually ask myself -- what did I learn this month? What surprised me and why? What am I grateful for? Who am I grateful for? And because I'm so all about that gratitude life, every month on this date that is when I sit down and I send short gratitude notes to those people I'm grateful for. It's all built into a system. There's no stress. I actually look forward to this now. It brings me a lot of joy.

So living this practice month-after-month, it reminded me of a few days. I set my own priorities. I run my life. If your dreams are important to you, don't disrespect them by cramming them into arbitrary New Year's resolutions or birthday deadlines. So going into the new year like we are right now, take stock on what you want for yourself. Get really honest with yourself for yourself and no one else. Be unapologetically focused on what your needs are and write it down. Write down your goals, make a plan, and then put it someplace accessible you can easily pull up and reference in the future. I keep mine in a private Google Doc that's attached to a bit.ly link. It's super straightforward.

But what makes this possible and sustainable is that you invest the time in what you want for yourself. That way at the end of the year or around your birthday you can sit down and run a review. So at this point in the process you should probably have some real serious tracking data to work with, several months' worth of data that captures things like what have you worked on for yourself? What and who are you grateful for? What are you learning and what are you curious about?

There is a story in this data and these are guide posts so you should use them. I know for me equipped with this data I got to ask myself where are the gaps between where am I now and where I want to be in the future? And then for you, you can use it to gauge what you need in order to work towards where you would like to be.

So once a month block off the time. Set up a system and then fit it into the schedule of your life in a sustainable way that is easy for you. Half of the battle is just getting out of your own way. For me it allowed me to see what I was doing out of obligation or because I thought I should versus what I actually wanted for myself. So being intentional about what I do and why, it actually makes me feel more in control. It gives me confidence and clarity to execute against my dreams. And most importantly -- this is the gift that keeps on giving -- it allows me to free up the brain space that I used to spend irrationally worrying and now I get to reinvest that into time that I can make memories with my family and friends with.

So to recap this is what it kind of looks like at home: take time to set and get clear on your priorities. Name your goals. Plan for your personal development. Then build the infrastructure to make this happen. Setup your own recurring personal inventory day to hold yourself accountable and then just do not forget this: you run your life. You set your priorities and you get to thrive. Have a great year CYG.

[Music]

Aminatou: That was Sabrina Hersi Issa. You can find her at beingbrina.com and her Twitter is @beingbrina.

Ann: Ugh, our next voicemail takes it into a slightly more overtly political realm. We got Lyzz Schwegler from Sister District to talk to us about how to channel some of our electoral anxieties into action. I think we mentioned Sister District before on the podcast. It's one of a handful of orgs that we're really excited about who are really working on a national scale, state-level especially, to make sure that things like, I don't know, a candidate we love winning the popular vote but not being elected president is a thing that does not happen in the future. Historically Republicans invest a lot more in state races than Democrats do and Sister District basically was founded by a core group of women who were like what if we took some of the power of people in states with solidly blue or fairly Democratic representation and got them more engaged financially, politically across the board with states that are either in play or could very soon be in play to flip them a little bit or put them into electoral contention? Which I love. It's such a smart long-game strategy. They're the best.

Aminatou: And it really checks all of our activism boxes for the year so that's great.

Ann: Totally.

Lyzz: Hi CYG, I'm Lyzz, one of the cofounders of the Sister District project. We are a nationwide grassroots organization that seeks to harness the passion, creativity, and dollars from deeply blue areas and channel it to get Democrats elected at the state legislature level. I co-founded Sister District with four other women because we were totally heartbroken after Trump's election and we wanted to do something about it. It especially stung that the Democratic nominee, Hillary, won the popular vote but the Republican, Trump, took the presidency. And part of the reason that that happened is Republicans have spent the last decade on a broad strategy to quietly take over state legislatures, largely funded by the Koch Brothers.

Their plan worked and gaining control of state governments allowed them to gerrymander congressional districts, pass voter suppression laws, and gain a disproportionate amount of power in the House of Representatives and at the state legislature level. So as a result of these tactics Democrats are not fairly represented and the majority of Americans are being silenced on both the state and the federal level.

We at Sister District are organizers. We organize real people on the ground across the country to take in-person actions to get candidates elected. We believe that the only way to win elections is to talk to voters and give campaigns the support that they need to win.

So once we have selected our races we pair each race with a sister team somewhere else in the country. That gives our volunteers an actual candidate to support and our teams get to know their candidates, they talk to them on Facetime, they learn about the issues they're trying to solve, and root for a living, breathing person, not just a sort of general amorphous idea.

So in 2017 we grew to over 25,000 volunteers all across the country. We worked to keep the Delaware state senate blue, flip the Washington state senate blue, and get 13 Democrats elected to the Virginia House of Delegates including the first out transgender delegate, one of the first two Latina delegates, and the first Vietnamese-American delegate.

We sort of think of ourselves as the grassroots answer to the Koch Brothers, and in 2018 we are excited to double the number of races we support. We want to flip and hold chambers and bust Republican supermajorities. Some of the states that we are probably going to be playing in are Colorado, Maine, Arizona, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and you can live anywhere in the country and work on those races.

We believe that activism should be accessible and simple enough to integrate into your life on a regular basis. That's why we offer programs like writing postcards, text banking where you literally text voters, phone banking, and larger activities like canvassing which is actually pretty fun plus lots of leadership roles if you'd like to sort of do a little bit more.

We raise money for candidates in small dollar donations. State legislative races typically have fairly low budgets so every single dollar counts and even 20 bucks can go a really long way. We also believe activism should be fun. Our volunteers throw lots of parties. One of the coolest things as a co-founder is to hear volunteers tell us about all the friendships they've made through Sister District and how meaningful the Sister District community has become to them.

So we are currently supporting a special election in Sarasota, Florida. The candidate is a woman named Margaret Good. She's a lawyer and she has a really cute dog named Barnie and we think she's a really great candidate. Her election is happening on February 13th so if you're interested in getting involved there's a lot to do right now.

We ultimately want to see more Democrats in Congress and also of course in the presidency but that's going to be extremely difficult because of all the Republican gerrymandering that has already occurred. So we can get a lot more bang for our buck by focusing on state races that will give Democrats a strategic advantage and ultimately make it easier to win national elections. So if you'd like to get onboard you can sign up to volunteer by going to www.sisterdistrict.com and you can also find us on Facebook and Twitter. Hope to see you soon.

Ann: thanks to Lyzz and the whole Sister District crew. You can find more about them and get involved at sisterdistrict.com.

Aminatou: We love Sister District. Here are other organizations also that we've mentioned that do great work at activating new constituencies to run for office, so you have Higher Heights, Run for Something, Indivisible, Latinas Represent, and 314 Action. So pick one, do the work, and see you at the ballot.

[Music and Ads]

Ann: Next up we asked friend-of-the-podcast Virgie Tovar to weigh in with some advice. So Virgie you might've heard on a classic 2016 CYG episode talking about . . .

Aminatou: Oh my god, was it really 2016?

Ann: It feels both way longer ago and just yesterday.

Aminatou: Like so fresh. [Laughs]

Ann: I know. She founded this hashtag #losehatenotweight and that's a lot of what she talked about when she was on the show last time but she's an author, an activist, and one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She's also the founder of Babe Camp which is a four-week online course designed to help women who are ready to break up with diet culture. When we approached her to ask her to leave us a voicemail for the year I thought maybe she would give some advice that was specifically about avoiding diet culture in the new year, like we all know this is the time of year when we are bombarded with messages about how we should feel about our bodies.

Aminatou: Whole 30! Drynuary! Go to the gym every day! All the things.

Ann: Exactly. We left it open though and said what advice do you want to give for the new year or what tips do you have for the new year? And she talked a bit more about emotional self-care and about her decision last year to change how she interacted with some of her family members. And my favorite bit of advice from this voicemail is she says you have the right to thrive.

Aminatou: Oh man, I love that.

Virgie: Hi Call Your Girlfriend. It's me ,Virgie Tovar, and I'm here to talk to you about something I did in 2017 that made my life qualitatively better. And it feels kind of weird sharing it with you but I feel like it's important. So in January I decided to send my mom and grandma a letter that explained to them that I wasn't going to be able to speak to them for the foreseeable future and that I didn't know how long the process would take but I loved them very much. But I'd been emotionally holding them for my entire life and I was finally ready to ask them to hold me. And that I needed them to trust me that this was the best thing for me and this was what I needed from them in the same way that for all those years that I really held a lot of their pain and, you know, a lot of their unresolved feelings towards parenting and life -- the way that I trusted them, you know? In childhood and well into adulthood.

It came after a series of events. In a lot of ways it was a long time coming but it was extraordinarily difficult to finally do it. And I think at the same time, as difficult as it was, I also knew. Like I knew completely intuitively that this is what I needed to get to the next level in my emotional and spiritual healing which in a lot of ways is my greatest desire in life. I have a lot of desires. [Laughs]

I want a Louis Vuitton bag, I want a chihuahua. I want somebody to take care of my Louis Vuitton bag and my chihuahua. But psychically I would say that healing is my greatest goal in life and it's where I probably dedicate most of my emotional resources. So it was really weird recognizing . . .

And the first time that someone suggested to me that maybe I needed to take a break from my family because I was overwhelmed by a sense of guilt and anger actually was someone I met in my mid-20s. And he was my boyfriend and a very loving and supportive person. And at the time it seemed utterly inconceivable for so many reasons, right? To begin with, oh my god, so disrespectful to do that. So ungrateful, unimaginable, and then I think also for me as a woman of color, you know, I felt like it was not . . . in my mind I felt that was something that white people do; that's not something that people of color do.

And so it was completely off the table for me, and it's just really interesting that a decade later I finally realized that yeah, there's a lot of taboos around having no contact with your family. And I'll admit a lot of the decision came from, as I was mentioning, rage and guilt. But at the end of the day on maybe a grander, existential scale, maybe I need to take this time to heal away from them A) because it's just celestially been determined that the trauma of my family will end with me, and it was just time. Like the universe just decided it was time it would end this generations of trauma that I was the inheritor of.

And I think on the other hand I've kind of had to realize that I actually deserved this. I really deserved to do whatever I needed to do to feel safe and to feel like I was living my life in a way that really honored what mattered to me.

And I think the other thing was I realized that there was no way that I could continue to have a relationship with them that was based entirely on a sense of resentment and resentfully-mediated acts that were just making me more resentful, right? And there was no way we were going to have an authentic relationship the way that things were. And so something radical needed to change and it just became clear to me that taking a step back was the way to do it.

And so immediately following the decision to stop talking to them and to block their phone numbers a lot of really interesting things began to happen. Like my period blood changed color. Like my signature started to change, and a couple of other weird . . . like a hundred years of solitude-esque shifts in behaviors and things like that that felt really kind of almost magical and spooky happened.

I kind of can't believe it but it's really the best gift I ever gave myself because the truth is I know that my family loves me but I grew up in a home that was 40% of the time maybe it was amazing. It was loving and warm and wonderful and I had all the presents I wanted. There are pictures of me as a little girl with stacks of presents as tall as I was and every year we went to Disney Land and every other weekend we went to this amusement park. There was no lack of stuff and there was no lack of love.

But then 60% of the time I would say my childhood, my life growing up with my family, was extraordinarily emotionally volatile and I was at the mercy of my grandfather and my aunt and my mother's totally unpredictable mood swings. And particularly my mother, every day I would wake up and I wouldn't know what kind of day it was going to be because my day was entirely dictated by whether or not she was "okay" which I now realize in adulthood meant that she was manic or she "wasn't okay" which meant she was on a down swing from mania.

Anyway, a lot of volatility, a lot of really intense things that have essentially -- I come from a legacy of alcoholism so there was not immediate alcoholism in my family but I realize through working with one of my favorite humans who became a mentor and is now a friend, Michelle Tea, that I am an adult child of alcoholics. And it's so wild, right? You think to yourself -- I never saw my parents get drunk or anything like that, but what's interesting about legacies of alcoholism is if you don't let go and recover and heal you actually find other ways, even if you're not a substance user, you'll find other ways to create chemical reactions in your body by pursuing non-stop amazing experiences or by always getting into fights or by always creating drama in your life so you can create adrenaline and any number of chemicals that your body creates and that you can curate through particular experiences.

And so I had to come to terms with the fact that I'm an adult child of alcoholics and that I was a parentified child meaning that I was taking on the emotional role of a parent for my adult family members. And that essentially taught me that there was not room for me. And I internalized that message so thoroughly that it came with me into adulthood, into pursuing relationships, into pursuing a number of things that really mattered to me.

And so 2017, I really gave myself the gift of being my own parent and taking care of me and it's been really hard but it's also been like extraordinarily rewarding and I can't recommend enough. I don't know if you necessarily need to take this exact path that I did but I just want to give you permission to do what you need to do to thrive. Like you have the right to thrive, and if your family didn't necessarily raise you with that understanding I want to tell you that you do. One of your rights as a person is to thrive, and I have the greatest wishes for you moving forward. I hope you have a great 2018. Bye!

Aminatou: Thanks Virgie Tovar. That's virgietovar.com and the hashtag is #losehatenotweight.

[Music]

Aminatou: Our final bit of advice comes from Jenn Romolini who is maybe the only person who has ever broken through my permanent do not disturb on my phone. [Laughs]

Ann: Wow.

Aminatou: And caught me on the phone. Ann, you understand that DND life. You know.

Ann: Listen, straight to voicemail, the story of me trying to contact my friend Aminatou Sow. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Listen, it's like some people like airplane mode. I like do not disturb. It's fine. Jenn Romolini is the chief content officer of shondaland.com, a site that founded by producer Shonda Rhimes and the author of Weird in a World That's Not: A Career Guide for Misfits, Fuckups, and Failures. Jenn has great advice to give for anybody who has to make money for a living in whatever setting that is but especially if you are in an office setting and you're somebody who feels like you don't fit into that office. The thing that I really like about this career advice that she gives is it's obviously very tailored for people who are early career but there are such good reminders like if you become a manager or you're somebody like me who dips in and out of offices or whatever. But the thing about it that is great is just how realistic she is. Jenn is one of the only people that I've heard talk very honestly about being fired from a job or having strife with your manager or, you know, just not fitting in. There's such a culture of perfectionism and there's so much shame around not doing well at work. And I think that if you actually settled down and think about what you want your career to be and bring your full self to work, what that can look like, she has great advice about that. So the book is part career advice, it's part memoir, and here is Jenn.

Jennifer: I'm going to say two things that I think are really important. I think the first one is nobody knows how weird it feels inside your head. We think that people know, right? We walk into a meeting and we've got all this anxiety and we start spiraling because we feel so anxious but nobody knows what's happening. Just practice a speech for the meeting. Just keep yourself contained. Nobody knows. You're holding it inside and you're thinking that everybody is judging you but they're not. So that's the first thing, nobody knows how weird it is inside your head.

And the second thing is don't rush. You're going to be doing this thing for, I don't know, 20, 30, 40 years? And I think that so many young people are rushing from one job to the next and the next promotion and they're not learning enough along the way and they're also not enjoying the perks that occur when you are a junior, that you have less pressure, that you have more guidance, that the expectations are different. The expectations are that you might mess up a little bit and you can rebound from it. And just learning in each job you have and sucking each job for everything you can out of it, right? I think people are rushing and moving too quickly in their career and then you're a 25-year-old editor-in-chief. What do you do next?

Aminatou: But you've also written like if you have the option to be in charge you should take it, you know? And just like forging ahead without having all the answers which a lot of -- so much research shows that women will not apply for jobs or take leadership positions or whatever if they don't fit like every single bullet point that is outlined.

Jenn: Yeah, no. You're allowed to be fallible and messy and emotional and not like a man and you can still be really, really good at your job and you are still totally capable. So I don't think that there's . . . I think that we think of these things as being mutually exclusive, you know? We have this like Wonder Woman posing and look at me, I have a blowout and I'm so powerful. And it's like you have to be like almost like a robot, right? And have it all and be it all. But you can just be a mess and still be successful. The two go together fine.

Aminatou: is I have a lot of anxiety around small talk and it just keeps getting worse and worse and worse. And I find that so much of work and career stuff is just like being able to make small talk with people and not want to kill yourself. You have really good tips on making small talk in this book.

Jenn: Well, first off, I am also a person who hate small talk. I despise it. I like big talk. I like deranged talk. I like intimate, emotional tell me how you really feel talk. But, you know, small talk has to happen. It has to happen with your boss. It has to happen at a networking event. It has to happen with your landlord. It just is a part of adulthood. And so what I started doing was just giving genuine compliments whenever I felt them. That was something that really helped me in networking and also at work, you know? "I really like the way you made that presentation. I really have always admired this part of your work." You know, it's kind of in the middle of small talk and big talk. It's saying something true and authentic and it's also flattering another person which is always a great way to start a conversation to be honest.

Aminatou: That's fair.

Jenn: And then also, you know, I say in the book and I think this, talk about anything. Nothing is too stupid. You're afraid that something is too stupid? The entire thing is stupid, right? So you're eating cupcakes? Talk about the fucking cupcakes. You talk about somebody's eyeliner. It's fine. It's all dumb. We're just all making our way through it.

Aminatou: [Laughs] I love that. It makes me feel a little less anxious. The other thing that you say too that really resonated with me is how you don't want to be the person who like complains about work all the time even though work is awful. And especially when you're like in those more junior positions, work is just the worst, but I thought that this was really interesting, this like don't be the person who is complaining all the time because of the effect that it has on morale but also on perception for you.

Jenn: Well, yeah. Eventually what happens is everybody starts to hate you. Well, either one of two things happen. If you're negative all the time and you're -- you're either the person people are seeking out to be negative with, or you're seeking out the negative people -- those people tend to be the ones who get stuck, right? They're so fixated on what's wrong with work and they get stuck. They don't get promoted. They're just bitching. The boss kind of hates them. And if you become that person then eventually you'll wind up hating yourself too. Like it just crates more misery than you need in the situation. Like sure, okay, work is unpleasant. There are lots of things that feel inorganic about it. There's lots of shit work you have to do that you don't want to do. You need to find a way to rise above that and if you can find the humor in it. If you can't, at least try to let it go. Because if not you fixate and you miss opportunities.

Aminatou: That's so true. The other thing that I like that you mention in here is actually getting fired. We have such a stigma around getting fired at work. Like everybody thinks that if you've been fired you're like . . . there's something so awful about you. And the truth is that like you outlined you can be fired for being an asshole but you can also be fired for many other reasons that have nothing to do with that. Why was it so important for you to include those stories in here?

Jenn: . I don't want people getting fired to feel like that's it. I have no value. I don't want it to be like identity-demolishing. People get fired for all kinds of reasons. A lot of times bosses have their heads up their asses. A lot of times you're a bad fit and the boss shouldn't have chosen you. A lot of times the work -- you're just not compatible with the work, and it's hard to know that going in. And we all enter things hopefully with best intentions and a lot of hope and we do the best work we can. But sometimes because of things outside of your control, chemistry, your experience isn't quite aligned, the boss doesn't know exactly what they want and so it's impossible for you to deliver, all of these situations people get fired for. But it's not ultimately about you.

Sometimes people get fired because there's a really toxic political system in the office and you just . . . you can't get a grasp on it and you can't break your way into it and you wind up always being sort of left out of, you know, being in the bubble of being a favorite of the boss. And those situations are maddening but they don't fundamentally change who you are or what you're worth.

Aminatou: Okay, tell me about working at Shondaland. Is it everything I imagine in my head? Which is just that like it looks like Grey's Anatomy/Scandal and everybody's just walking around doing really important things.

Jenn: I mean I think that some of that is true. I don't know that it looks like Grey's Anatomy so much. I will say that that Shonda lives up to the hype. She's just a woman of immense power and integrity and she's just a really fascinating person to work for and I'm really honored. I've worked for a lot of badasses in my life but I'd say that she's the baddest.

Ann: Thanks to Jenn Romolini of Shondaland. Her book is Weird in a World That's Not.

Aminatou: Perfect.

Ann: Wow, ready for 2018. We've got this.

Aminatou: I am so ready. Do you have New Year's resolutions, Ann?

Ann: I don't really do New Year's resolutions. I'm more of a person who makes long lists in my journal and then, you know, thinks that there's always going to be a day in the near future when I turn those lists into more concrete resolutions and it rarely comes. But I am someone who thinks about in general what do I want to get out of this year and that sort of thing. It's a little bit different than a resolution.

Aminatou: Same.

Ann: I'm not very good at being like -- yeah, I'm not very good at saying this is the last year I whatever or this is the year I start doing something else.

Aminatou: I know. I'm good at I set intentions for the year and I'm like here are things I want to focus on. This year I have one resolution but I'm also very superstitious about resolutions. I think that you should keep them for yourself. And then it's like if you do it, you do it, and if you don't do it, there isn't the pressure of "I told the entire world I was going to run a marathon this year." That's not my resolution BTW.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: That will never be a resolution for me.

Ann: Did you have resolutions that you met last year?

Aminatou: Last year also I had one and I'm proud to report that I met it, so this year is a continuation of that. And I'm just like okay. It just feels good to have a goal that's like oh, this is a private interior thing and I just have to work on it.

Ann: Totally. Yeah, and I feel some combination of that. I relate to that very much. Then there are also things that I know I want to accomplish this year and I know enough about myself to know that external accountability is really important. Like I'm really good at coming up with ideas on my own and following through with those ideas, I need some kind of partnership usually. And so for me it's less like oh, how can I tell the world about my personal goals and it's more like how can I find people I want to work with on specific things in the year? So I think that's more my mentality.

Aminatou: Yeah. I think that, you know, I think that everybody does accountability differently. One thing that has been helpful for me is whatever goal I have, LOL, I love saying the word goal like I have real goals, what has really helped me succeed is when I figure out what are all the smaller mechanical steps that I need to break something down into to actually get to the finish line? So I love that I almost said what my goal was and I was like I'm not sharing this with hundreds of thousands of human beings. [Laughs] No thank you. I have a very rich interior life. But I also get really excited though, as Grinchy as I sound, I get really excited at beginning of the year energy when everybody is just like "Here's what I want to do! Here's what the next year looks like," or whatever. And I'm like I'm not on the Gregorian calendar but I support you.

Ann: I'm happy to have your support as I embark on the first month of the Gregorian calendar.

Aminatou: [Laughs] Now I've got to pick a mystical calendar for myself.

Ann: I know. I'm like what schedule are you on?

Aminatou: Listen, I'm on my own time. I have reclaimed my time fully.

Ann: Reclaiming my calendar.

Aminatou: I don't need this capitalistic calendar to tell me how to live life. No.

Ann: Ugh, on that note I'll see you in the shared Google Calendar.

Aminatou: Happy New Year!

Ann: Happy New Year.

[Music]

Aminatou: You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com. You can download it anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts or on Apple Podcasts where we would love it if you left us a review. You can email us at callyrgf@gmail.com or we're on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at callyrgf. You can subscribe to our monthly newsletter The Bleed on the Call Your Girlfriend website. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. Our theme song is by Robyn. All original music is composed by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs. Our logos are by Kenesha Sneed and this podcast is produced by Gina Delvac.