What I Learnt | How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh

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How to Be a Bawse is Lilly Singh’s guide to working harder and conquering life, rather than just going through the motions and surviving. The spelling of ‘bawse’ is intentional to characterize “someone who excels in both personal and professional settings”. The lessons are peppered with Lilly’s life experiences, and the book has prompts and blank spaces (almost like a workbook) to encourage readers to start applying the tips to their lives.

In case you don’t know, Lilly Singh is an entertainer on YouTube. I watch her vlogs sometimes. I read this book last year but didn’t review it. And then I saw the news that Lilly is getting her own late-night on show with NBC–she’s now the first woman on colour to host a major late-night show. News like that kinda necessitates a review, doesn’t it? I think the late-night show just shows the value of Lilly’s hard work and determination. So what does she say about conquering goals and achieving dreams?

Here are 10 things I learnt from How to be a Bawse:

  1. “If you can’t control people, then control your reaction to them. If you can’t control a situation, then prepare for it”. I’ve seen some version of this lesson floating around, but I think I needed a reminder. Focus on the things you can control! It’s easier to fix yourself (and your outlook) than it is to fix other people. If your friend keeps annoying you by chewing loudly, instead of always getting angry at them, ask yourself why it bothers you so much, and try to adjust your reaction to the friend’s loud chewing. Or just try to avoid eating with them.
  2. You don’t have to tell people EVERYTHING! I highlighted this tip in my post about Luvvie Ajayi’s I’m Judging You. You can tell that this is a problem for me 😋. Don’t trick yourself into believing that you’re obligated to share everything with everyone. Resist the urge to show off and develop you skills instead so that you can capitalize off them later (there’s a Game of Thrones analogy in that section of the book if you’re into that kind of thing).
  3. Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations is crucial to developing new skills and gaining valuable experience. “The goal isn’t always the trophy [but] the bronze and silver medals that bring you closer to the gold.”
  4. “Just because something is important to you, it doesn’t mean it’s important to [everyone else].” You have to understand that you have different priorities than other people and you shouldn’t hate them for that, or hold it against them.
  5. In terms of academics, “don’t just try to pass classes, try to ace them”. Trying to conquer situations instead of just surviving them requires extra effort and extra commitment. It’s the extra hustle that takes you to the next level.
  6. Love Yourself! “Only when you love yourself that you can truly love others”. If you don’t love yourself, you’ll just project your insecurities and fears onto the other people, which creates unhealthy relationships.
  7. Pause to appreciate the things you have, your privileges and opportunities. Lilly mentioned that “inspiration fuels the hustle”—don’t cheat yourself by blazing through life—take a moment to savour things. Reflection is necessary to improve and keep doing better (and it’s helpful in maintaining mental health).
  8. You HAVE to aim high, so that even if you don’t get what you asked for, you’re left with something comfortable. It’s lie this quote I read on the internet ‘shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you will land among the stars’. I think the stars are a pretty good place to land.
  9.  “No one thing should make or break you”. You can’t base your whole success on one opportunity. I think this is exemplified in Lilly’s multiple sources of income from her YouTube channel, to her acting roles and now her talk show. “If one opportunity will make or break your success, then your idea of success isn’t solid enough to begin with.”
  10.  Don’t be afraid to seek help. You ONLY have to be really good at the stuff you’re supposed to do. You can reach out to friends and professionals to deal with everything else. You don’t have to do everything yourself. According to Lilly, being a Bawse isn’t always about being the best; it’s about placing yourself in the best situations.

This book is clearly not African Literature, but it fits into one category of books that I like: non-fiction written by celebrities. It has a lot of insightful tips, but also a bunch of clichés. You have to decide which sections work for you. I read the book in e-book format, which isn’t the best if you want to complete the prompts and activities. Aside from that, some formatting elements (like pictures and graphics) looked distorted. So I’ll suggest getting a physical copy if you’re interested in the book. The tone is very informal and colloquial, which I didn’t enjoy, it seemed a bit childish to me. All in all, the book was okay, you should check it out if you’re looking for something easy and inspiring to read.

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