‘There’s power in looking silly’ and other things Amy Poehler taught me about adult-ing


Oh, the classic questions: “If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?” “If you were stranded on an island, who would you want by your side?” “If the apocalypse arrived, Zombieland style, who would you want to stumble across Bill Murray with?”

My answer. Amy Poehler. Now, tomorrow, and forever. Though Amy and I have never physically met, I’d imagine the second we did we would be white on rice. I see it in my head, our witty back and forth banter over mimosas and bacon. She would reveal hilarious behind-the-scenes SNL moments with Seth Meyers as I countered with equally entertaining tales from my newspaper office. Somewhere towards the end of the meal, Tina Fey would materialize and we’d ride on horseback into the sunset.

*Pause to daydream*

Golden Globe Awards - Season 71


 I’ve almost finished Amy’s memoir Yes Please, which everyone should buy RIGHT NOW. After Tina’s Bossy Pants, I’ve been waiting for something just as awesome and Amy did it.

There’s something impressive about successfully mixing humor, honesty and damn good life advice into a memoir. Amy does it with style complete with a plastic surgery haiku and candid sex advice. She admits to royally messing up during her career and feeling the turmoil that comes with divorce. She reveals what SNL hosts have been like off camera (often drunk, confused or both) and how it felt to perform improv in front of insane Chicago and NYC crowds back in the day.

As i navigate my mid-twenties, I feel the desperate need for a road map. A road map for work life, dating life, and just general advice for masquerading as an adult being. What better life guidance counselor than Amy?  Yes, Please has inspired me to write a Buzzfeed-style blog post. Please read on for 13 things I’ve learned from Amy Poehler.

1. Figure out what you want. Say it loud. Then SHUT UP. The most successful people are those who are direct and simple rather than furiously shouting from a soapbox. Tell the world how you think it should be then get outta the way so that ball can roll into motion.

2. Only say I’m sorry when there is something to be sorry for. “It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for. It takes years to find your voice and seize your real estate.” For me, “I’m sorry” has become an impulse, something I blurt out uncontrollably in an argument or conversation even if I didn’t actually do anything. I’ll pass someone on the street and suddenly apologize for taking up some of their oxygen. Thanks to Amy, I’ve realized I need to own who I am and only offer an apology in situations when I’ve actually done something that merits one.

3. Everybody is scared.  Oh Amy, you blonde-haired buddha. We’re all human. The truth is, we all get scared. Some of us are just better at faking it than others. There’s so much comfort in remembering this.

4. Do whatever you want. With limits, but ultimately go for it…you could end up the star of a movie called Baby Mama.

5. There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do. “If you can dance and be free and not embarrassed you can rule the world.” This is my favorite Amy quote. I know she’s speaking to her experience in comedy/improv but I think it universally applies to life. Life is just too damn serious sometimes. Shake it off.

6. Learn to live with your demon. We all have that voice inside of us. Sometimes it completely takes over and keeps us from living our lives. Amy shares advice for conquering it.

 “Some people give their demon so much room that there is no space in their head or bed for love. They feed their demon and it gets really strong and then it makes them stay in abusive relationships or starve their beautiful bodies. But sometimes, you get a little older and get a little bored of the demon. Through good therapy and friends and self-love you can practice treating the demon like a hacky, annoying cousin. Maybe a day even comes when you are getting dressed for a fancy event and it whispers, “You aren’t pretty,” and you go, “I know, I know, now let me find my earrings.” Sometimes you say, “Demon, I promise you I will let you remind me of my ugliness, but right now I am having hot sex so I will check in later.”

7.  Just freaking do it, none of us are really 100% sure. “I believe great people do things before they are ready. They do things before they know they can do it.” We go through many phases in life and perfection is not one of them. While we do evolve and learn over time, we will always find a reason to not be ready for whatever lies in front of us. The truth is that it will never feel completely right and that’s what gives our lives that extra spark.

8. Decide what your currency is early. “Let go of what you will never have. People who do this are happier and sexier.”  I’m  gonna say my currency is being hilarious and writing a damn good sentence. What my currency is not is pictionary, accounting or rocking leather attire. Which sorta sucks but hey, time to move on! Focus on what makes you awesome and use it to propel you forward in life.

9. The signs a relationship is working can be glimpsed in those small, real-life moments.“I have a boyfriend who knows how to settle me. He puts his hand on my chest and tells me boring stories…On one of our first nights together I woke up apologizing for my snoring and he pulled out the two earplugs he had worn to bed so that he could hear what I was saying. It was one of the most romantic gestures I have ever seen.”  Hey, if this scene doesn’t describe love then I don’t know what does.

10. Life is more than your job.Depending on your career is like eating cake for breakfast and wondering why you start crying an hour later.” As Amy puts it, your career is simply the stringing together of opportunities and jobs mixed with public opinion and past regret. Enjoy what you do but don’t count on it to be what fully completes you.

11 Take risks and give it your absolute all.  “I have realized that mystery is what keeps people away, and I’ve grown tired of smoke and mirrors. I yearn for the clean, well-lighted place. So let’s peek behind the curtain and hail the others like us. The open-faced sandwiches who take risks and live big and smile with all of their teeth. These are the people I want to be around. This is the honest way I want to live and love and write.” A repeated theme in Amy’s book and probably a key reason why she is so successful. Give it everything no matter how much it hurts because to do anything less is a simply a disservice.

12. Focus on feeling and doing good instead of the outcome.“You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look.” This is definitely a lesson I struggle with daily. I can easily turn myself into a stress ball over what other people think about what I’ve done. But too often that clouds our vision and causes us to forget our true worth. Practice aligning everything you do with your good intentions and allow your happiness to come from that. In other words, let those haters hate and the heartbreakers break.

13. And finally, “… if you do start crying in an argument and someone asks why, you can always say, “I’m just crying because of how wrong you are.”

Thanks Ames, my sister from another mister.


Katie Turpen

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