In an exclusive excerpt from her new book, Be a Triangle, the comedian, actress and former talk show host opens up about getting older, learning to say “no” and letting go of expectations.
I wanted to write this book because I needed help. I need these pages as much as you do. And so, to make good on my promise, I unsubscribed from ideas that no longer serve me. To test my theory, if you will. And let me tell you, unsubscribing from these beliefs wasn’t easy, but doing so has made my life far happier.
On Getting Older
For as long as I can remember, aging has been a point of anxiety for me. For most of my life, I’ve had people telling me what I should be accomplishing by a certain age—namely, marriage and motherhood. I am in my early thirties and for so long I have felt abnormal and stressed because I’ve told myself I’m behind. I have felt guilty because I’m still unsure whether I even want to bear children. I don’t know what’s louder, the pressure from people around me or the ticking of my biological clock, but neither is helpful. I have made the decision to look into freezing my eggs, in case I ever want kids in the future. I’ve unsubscribed from the idea that I am required to have children or that I need to do so by a certain age. Instead, I have subscribed to choice, to individual agency, to a stronger relationship with myself. And I will no longer ignore the options available to me just because they may be taboo for some people.
On Redefining Relationships
I’ve struggled with forming friendships in my adult life because I’ve always had a rigid idea of how friendships should look. For me to be friends with someone, I had to have known them for years, they had to have known me before I achieved any success, we had to talk every day, and we had to be nothing short of best friends forever. I kept trying to fit people into a predetermined idea of friendship instead of organically forming connections. I’ve unsubscribed from the idea that all friendships need to look the same, start the same way and carry the same expectations. Instead, I have subscribed to the idea that I can have a vast array of friendships, and each one can be unique. Since then, I have formed new and loving friendships.
On Learning to Say “No”
Much of my professional success has come from saying yes to things—whether I wanted to do them or not. I believed that I would eventually earn my stripes, which would allow me to do things my way and work solely on projects that fulfilled me. But I’d been climbing the ladder for so long, rung by rung, chasing the next thing, that I’d forgotten that my initial reason for starting the climb was to reach a point where I could make those very decisions. So lately I’ve said goodbye to major projects and turned down opportunities that didn’t spark my interest, no matter how shiny. I’ve unsubscribed from the idea that success means being constantly busy. Instead, I have subscribed to the idea that success is doing what excites me.
On Rejecting Diet Culture
The hardest change I’ve made while writing this book was to my diet. I’ve been vegetarian for twelve years because I have ethical reservations about consuming animal products. And even though year after year I felt myself getting more and more unhealthy because I wasn’t executing a vegetarian diet well, I stuck with it. After receiving recent blood test results and getting real about my health and habits, I decided to unsubscribe from the idea that vegetarianism is good for my body right now. Wanting vegetarianism to be healthy for me and it actually being healthy for me are two different things. Instead of staying on an unhealthy path, I’ve subscribed to working on my health and revisiting the lifestyle when the time is right. I hope I get there again. But in the interim, I’ve already seen positive effects.
It’s been a busy few months. The growth has felt immense and the freedom is magical, though hard-earned. I continue to meditate, reflect, be present with myself and ask myself what I need right now to thrive. And when I answer, l implement a design that serves me, no matter how taboo or outside the box it may seem. I don’t care about boxes. If I did, this book would be called Be a Square.
So remember that you are the artist, not just the audience. No matter what new hurdles come your way each day, you can always come home to an understanding that you can design a life that fulfills you.
Excerpt from Be A Triangle by Lilly Singh. Copyright © 2022. Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.