As a jobless Master’s graduate swiftly approaching 30 years old, I’ve been seeking whatever sage advice I can get (Susan Miller of Astrology Zone is my most frequent source of guidance). When Amy Poehler’s “Ask Amy” video in response to the Boston Marathon bombing went viral, I decided to perk my ears to the knowledge bank that is every “Ask Amy” video ever.
“Ask Amy” is a series of short advice videos that are part of Poehler’s online network “Smart Girls at the Party”; each is a response to a question that any viewer can leave in the comments section of the Smart GirlsYouTube channel. In the most recent episode, Poehler ruminates on the bombing at the Boston Marathon in the context of the media barrage that is so intrinsic to everyday life.
“I kind of feel like my eyes need a break, don’t you? If you do, take it. It’s okay to not be looking at what everyone is looking at all the time. To know what you’re ready to see and not see, and to be okay with letting some things rest in peace.”
What struck me about the video was Ms. Poehler’s cadence. Not only is she sincere, but so calm and focused on what she’s talking about. Unlike the plastic-sounding replies to Seventeen’s “Why Me?” section, Amy responded to her inquirer with such genuine thought and care (not surprising as the entire Smart Girls enterprise is dedicated to “cultivating the authentic selves of young women”). In an effort to exercise some self-care of my own, I decided to watch the entire series of “Ask Amy” videos to uncover what other gems of advice my favorite TV role model had to offer. Here are some of my favorites.
“You have your whole life to wear a lot of makeup. I bet you look great without it.”
“When things start coming at you take them one at a time, and deal with them individually. Don’t let yourself get weighed down by the enormity of everything. Just figure out what you can do today and go to bed knowing you’ve done everything that you can.”
“Surround yourself with people who love you, and who support you, and who are on your team, and who make you feel good all the time.”
“If you allow yourself to find the humor in embarrassing things or awkward situations, you’re building your sense of humor, and you’re also letting people know that you’re too cool to let some stupid moment like that rule your life. Don’t obsess about it.”
“Have some gratitude, thank your body for what it gives you. Don’t focus on the parts that will never change. We’re all different. Every body is different. There’s only like 5 perfectly symmetrical people in the world and they’re all movie stars. And they should be, because their faces are very pleasing to look at.”
“Don’t worry about finding love, you will always find love. There’s a lid for every pot, that’s what my Nana used to say.”
“We like to do things that we’re good at. We don’t like to do things that are hard on us or make us feel like a failure. Start to use the words ‘can’ and ‘do’ and ‘will’ and ‘like.’ Instead of saying ‘I can’t do math,’ say ‘I can do math… I just have to figure out how.’ Start to change the negative thinking.”
“Here’s an idea: the way to try to get guys to notice you is to stop trying. To let go of the idea of trying. You don’t have to let go of what you want. Take that energy and turn it on yourself. You become more attractive when you love yourself. You attract the right things when you have a sense of who you are. Stop trying and let go.”
“Admit that you’re jealous. Once you do that, gratitude can snap you out of it. Make a list of what you’re grateful for. Rejoice in other people’s victories. Be happy when people get what they want.”
“Negativity is something people fight all the time, we all fight it. We talk about ourselves in ways that we would never talk about our friends or family. Give yourself a break, be compassionate with yourself. Accept more positivity in your life. Try just saying “thank you.” Period. Accepting love is very hard, but it’s so nourishing when we do, therefore we have something to give back to someone else.”
“When we don’t get enough sleep, everything feels very unmanageable. Sleep can be really magical because sometimes balance is only a day away. A good night’s sleep can suddenly change everything; can reframe how we feel about things, can open up our perspectives and make us feel like everything’s gonna be okay.”
“Practice actually helps. Apology is not defeat, it’s not admitting that someone else is right. It’s actually quite powerful because it’s showing that you’re vulnerable, that you’re a supple person who can admit when they’ve made a mistake. And therefore can also be trusted when they say, “I’m not sorry” or “I don’t want to apologize for that.”
This is one of my favorite Ask Amy segments partially because you can tell Ms. Poehler has just shot or is just about to shoot “Parks & Rec” and is in full-on Leslie Knope mode. How can you deny romantic advice from Councilwoman Knope? Nope. You can’t.
“Tell him that you like him. Life is short, go for it. Why not? What’s the worst that could happen? He tells you he doesn’t like you? So what? Opening your heart and being courageous and telling people that you care about them or like them or that you think they’re special only makes you a better, bigger, kinder, softer more loving person and only attracts more love into your life. The telling of your feelings sometimes is half the battle. Knowing what you want and saying it out loud is a lesson we learn over and over again for our entire lives.”
“I’ve learned that you never stop making new friends. The older you get, the quality of your friends gets better and better, cause you know who you are and you know what kind of people you want in your life. Making friends is a lifelong journey.”
“How do we take risks? The only way you will find out if you’re good at something is if you do it. The only way you’ll find out if you’re supposed to be with someone is if you go for it. The only way you’re gonna find out if you’re in the right place is to stand in the place. Just do it and see what happens. Inch yourself out of that back line and step into life. Courage, risks, yes, go, now.”