A Book Review: Present Over Perfect

At first I was really looking forward to reading Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I wanted a good self-help/feel good/motivational book. It was a relatively quick read – only 240 pages on my kindle. But as I got further into the book, more and more I found myself looking forward to the book ending, which is never a good sign.

As much as I enjoyed the sentiment of the book, I felt like that was all it was. She spent a lot of time saying the same thing in different ways – “Take time to be in the moment.” “Be you! not what you think everyone else expects you to be.” “Strip away the societal norms, the “shoulds” and find out what works for you and yours.” (I’m pretty sure there was a Sex and the City episode that talked all about the “shoulds” society puts on women – really enjoyed it!)

I tried really hard to extrapolate the main message – Be present in life, don’t worry about putting on this front that you are perfect. Which I can appreciate, even if I don’t know if society is ready for that. I think about all the politicians and celebrities that we hold their teenage transgressions, professional missteps, personal struggles (if public) against them. But until we push the envelope, showing our true self no matter what, others may not feel comfortable to own who they really are. And social media does NOT help with this. People are only posting what they want to post, we don’t see the struggle behind it. I have tried my best this past year to be my authentic self, unfortunately this has translated to less social media posts because I’m trying to focus on the real – being present.

I also kept getting caught in how privileged she sounded. “Don’t work so hard!” ummmm…some people have to work hard to just survive, just to get the basics. Not everyone has a house in Michigan, or can do a family retreat in Florida.  What are they supposed to do to get some respite?

She said in one of the last chapters “Because that’s what I’ve been searching for, wringing myself out for, zigzagging the country for: a sense of my own worth” between all those pages, and words, and repeating (yet slightly different) stories, that is what I identified with the most – I’m searching for my worth, my purpose. But I’m still not sure how to find it. I think my next self-help/feel good/motivational book will be one of the Brené Brown books.

1 stars for sure. Ok, I’ll give her an additional .5 stars – 1.5 total. The best part of the book was the title/main message – everything else was pure filler. #hardpass

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