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Five books that helped me out of a major slump

by Nathalie Harewood

I’ve spent the past few months feeling a bit restless in a lot of areas of my life. I was wondering how I can be more innovative at work and how I can whittle down my student loans. I’m a Millennial, and as much as I’d like to distance myself from the negative traits of my generation, I do have the habit of wanting to be the next 30-under-30 something.

Comparison is a creativity killer. Learning how to slow things down has been difficult, especially working in Social Media, a world of Buzzfeed lists, Twitter updates, Deadline Hollywood exclusives. Over time I began to feel like I was just sleepwalking through life, not accomplishing anything worthwhile. The projects I wanted to propose at work began to lack excitement and I didn’t find myself bringing any enthusiasm into anything I was doing.

Luckily, last year I invested in an Audible account and started listening to some amazing books. A few of them I bought in the hopes that they’d inspire me, while others taught me lessons I didn’t expect. Listening to these books helped me change my outlook on 2014 and work through the pressure I’d unconsciously put on myself to be a Hollywood hot shot.

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions and successfully make it to March without completely tossing everything aside, but this year has been surprisingly different. The following books had a hand in that change. I’ve accomplished more over the past two and a half months than I did all of last year. And it feels wonderful. Whether you prefer experiencing books on a screen, via audio, or an actual physical text, here are a few that can help you get out of a slump:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

If ever there was a book I wish was handed to me upon my arrival to Los Angeles, it’s The Alchemist. I listened to the book during a very, very rough week and still revisit it during moments of self-doubt. Santiago’s journey of self-discovery, doubt and enlightenment made me feel renewed. Although I’m still at the beginning of my own journey in life, I now feel like I can stop being so hard on myself for not being “the next big thing” in the industry.

Favorite quote: “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau

I usually don’t start many book recommendations with a warning, but if you aren’t serious about making changes in your life, The Art of Non-Conformity isn’t the book for you. Listening to the straightforward advice of Chris Guillebeau about saving, frugality, higher education and traveling gave me a kick to do more. Even though I’m not interested in doing some of the topics that Guillebeau described in the book, I was still able to take something away from every chapter. It inspires taking action and making changes.

Favorite quote: “The concept of deferred gratification, or sacrificing now to save for the future, can be helpful in setting aside money in a retirement account for old age. It can also serve as an effective rationalization for life avoidance.”

― Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt

Patton Oswalt snuck into my subconscious with Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. I bought this book thinking I would have something funny to listen to while I drove home from work. I didn’t realize that I would get so much career advice and life lessons between laughs. The most important idea I’ve taken away from Oswalt is that you don’t have to worry about horrible people hating you. It’s very likely that they treat everyone that way and are slowly hurting their own reputations. I’m still debating if I’m a Zombie or Wasteland type of person.

Favorite quote: “Every zombie story is fundamentally about a breakdown of order, with the infrastructure intact. That infrastructure might be on fire, yes.”

― Patton Oswalt, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

Jenny Lawson is my new heroine of awkwardness. She worked hard to find her way through life. She’s funny, a bit socially inept and doesn’t shy away from talking about the challenges in her life. Listening to her talk about her networking anxiety and starting her career as a writer made me realize that approaching tough situations with a sense of humor is one of my strengths.

Favorite Quote: “I can finally see that all the terrible parts of my life, the embarrassing parts, the incidents I wanted to pretend never happened, and the things that make me “weird” and “different,” were actually the most important parts of my life. They were the parts that made me ME.”

― Jenny Lawson, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling is one of my closest friends, in my imagination. Her passion for comedy, terrible interviews, moments of unemployment and overall Millennial view of life makes me feel like anything is possible. Every time I have a weird interaction with someone or embarrass myself, I go back to this book and feel better about my existence. Am I fan girl? Absolutely. Mindy Kaling is my power animal, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) is a guide for me. It’s a reminder that you should embrace the things you love, take chances on yourself and don’t be afraid to set your expectations high every once in a while.

Favorite Quote: “What I’ve noticed is that almost no one who was a big star in high school is also a big star later in life. For us overlooked kids, it’s so wonderfully fair.”

― Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Books have become a necessity for me to stay focused. When the lure of comparison and attention-seeking bubbles to the surface, these books help clear my head and get me back on track. I have a lot to learn (patience being at the top of the list) while trying to find my place in Hollywood, but I won’t stop moving forward.

Nathalie Harewood

About Nathalie Harewood

Nathalie Harewood works in social media at a Beverly Hills media company. She watches cartoons, bakes desserts and writes for anyone willing to read her work. In certain light, you can see her Central Florida roots. Visit Nathalie on Twitter: @nharewood20

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