September 17, 2019

Author Q&A: Find Your F*ckyeah by Alexis Rockley

Find Your F*ckyeah: Stop Censoring Who You Are and Discover What You Really Want
Author: Alexis Rockley
Genre: Nonfiction/Self Help
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Publisher: Chronicle Prism


A bold guide to finding your unique purpose and uncensored self, Find Your F*ckyeah disrupts today's warm, fuzzy brand of #selfcare and “Just be you!” personal growth trends, translating the hard science of happiness for a generation that speaks emoji.

Despite everything society says, you are not a living brand, you do not have to have one passion/purpose/calling, and no amount of #selfcare is going to change your life.

In Find Your F*ckyeah, Alexis Rockley uses guided scientific experiments and refreshing wit to prove why one-size-fits-all success formulas and trendy morning routines won’t keep us happy—and shows us how to find what will.

Rockley tackles the social programming and biological defaults that fuel our limiting beliefs head on, showing how they keep us trapped in a cycle of boredom, stress, and burnout. In our attempt to present a hireable, friendable, dateable, and acceptable version of ourselves to the world, we spend much of our lives unintentionally censoring who we really are—and in the process, shoving what we truly want deep into our subconscious.

For anyone tired of feeling the pressure to be better, do more, and work faster to find happiness—to self-optimize, shut up, and fit in—Find Your F*ckyeah offers the tools to finally take our lives off autopilot and find joy where we’re at, right now.

A must-read if any of this sounds like you:

• You regularly bounce back and forth between boredom and stress, only to level out at a vegetative, exhausted state.
• You find yourself annoyed that your time isn’t your own because you’re busy making a living.
• You like having time to yourself, but hate being alone without an Internet connection.
• You sometimes feel confident in the life choices you’ve made (i.e., education, career, relationships), but you can’t help feeling like where you’re “at” in life is somehow… not enough.
• You want practical advice on how to be happier, but you’re annoyed by the vague, generic advice of traditional self-help books.

Q&A with Alexis Rockley,
Author of Find Your F*ckyeah (Chronicle Prism; September 2019)

What came first, the book idea or the “f*ckyeah”?

My “f*ckyeah” came first. After falling down a rabbit hole of reading, research and trial & error, I was finally waking up without anxiety; I wasn’t burnt out, pissed off, or depressed anymore. (Which was a big deal, because I’d been feeling progressively worse during the last two years of my career as a retail executive.) In other words: My life had been transformed, top to bottom, and I wanted to tell someone about what had worked—because it wasn’t the fluffy self-help books or self-care products that made the difference.

What exactly is “f*ckyeah”?

You know how it can be hard to find the right word to describe something? Maybe the word exists in another language, but you can’t find it when you need it in your own? ”F*ckyeah” is like that. It’s my cheesy, made-up word attempting to describe something greater than the sum of its parts: a clear sense of purpose without having all the answers; the clarity of mind and resolute motivation to work your ass off, stick with it when sh*t hits the fan, to know which problems are the “worth it” problems—f*ckyeah is the kind of joy we’ve been chasing since we were kids, and not only is it real, it’s hidden in plain sight.

How did you come to write and publish the book?

When I realized that my “blog posts” (meant to contain the ideas and research I was desperate to share) were busting at the seams, and that, in fact, I had a book on my hands—I panicked a little. Not about writing the book; that HAD to happen, because I was waking up every day with words spilling out of me into countless Google docs. No, I was panicked because I had no idea how I’d get it into the world. I knew if I “shopped it” to publishers and received countless rejections, the creative perfectionist in me would implode, bury the manuscript, and never let the book exist—all because of a bruised ego.

So, using what I had learned from positive psychology, I made a sabotage-proof plan: I’d self-publish it, not even attempting to get it in front of publishers. After—and only after—it was already in the world could I pitch it to anyone. A week after publicly announcing to friends and family that I was self-publishing (and the day after privately deciding I’d somehow “manifest” a book deal, it’s a long story) I got an email from a friend of a friend, the freelance copyeditor I’d hired to fix my horrendous use of commas and long dashes: “…by the way, I mentioned your book to my friend who is a Marketing Director at Chronicle, and she is asking for an introduction. I know you said you want to self-publish, but would you be open to an email intro?” I was offered a book deal 8 weeks later. Life is crazy.

You write about having an amazing job, apartment, partner, and group of friends—seriously, you weren’t happy??

I’m cringing at how self-absorbed and cliched that sounds, but it’s the truth: I was living the Millennial Dream and also anxious and exhausted. Somewhere along the way to a stable income, long term relationship, fun friendships and a successful career, I’d dropped all my boundaries and tangled my identity up in my job, which left me vulnerable to stress, low self-esteem, and a quarter-life-crisis.

Frankly? I think we could all benefit from being more transparent about our private struggles with mental health, purpose, and happiness, regardless of how great our lives look “on paper.” (Of course, this transparency should also come with a big ol’ spoonful of checking our own privilege—because it’s easy to get wrapped up in our own melodramas without realizing how much we have to be grateful for). I think it’s crucial to admit when we’re not okay, so that the people who love us and the communities who hold us accountable can help us get back on track. Since that “quarter life crisis,” a lot has changed—my boundaries, my job, my source of self-worth—but I’m proud to say my partner and friends played a huge role in helping me find my happiness all over again.

How did you discover your own “f*ckyeah,” and can you do the same for me?

Nowadays I wake up in the morning, motivated to get to work, full of ideas, feeling alive. I’m less afraid of sh*t hitting the fan; I’m slower to take my feelings as facts; I’m more prepared for the unknown. Actually, I’m less sure about my future than I ever was—and I’m more at peace with that than ever before. I found this feeling—this f*ckyeah—by questioning the social messaging I’ve been spoon-fed since grade school, and by getting curious about everything: my interests, my failures, other people, the world. Oh, and reading a lot of scholarly articles about mental health.

No, you don’t have to find it that way—and no, I can’t find it for you. NO ONE has all the answers we need. But we can learn to ask better questions, to get curious and wake the f*ck up—and that’s what Find Your F*ckyeah is about. It’s about getting you to slow down, ask questions, and take your life off autopilot. And that I can help you with.

Is your f*ckyeah really that different from mine?

Yep. Not only are your DNA, memories, brain chemistry and life experiences totally different from mine—but your “f*ckyeah” will change, over and over again, in your lifetime. You are constantly changing, so what makes you feel alive will change along with you. We get so hung up on finding our “purpose” or “passion” or “calling” that we forget to question why it would be just one thing, or why the only “passion” worth finding is the kind that pays the bills...It’s time we gave ourselves permission to find the kind of joy and purpose that can change along with us, because change is the only constant in being human.

How does your plan differ from every other self-help/self-care guru’s plan out there?

[First of all, “guru”—that term freaks me out. Appropriation, much?] What I’ve discovered is less of a “plan” or clickbait-friendly steps to follow, and more of a series of blow-your-mind questions and scientific info that will transform how you see yourself and your “purpose” (whatever that is).

Because I felt so blindsided and pissed off by the total lack of data in the self-help books I read during my existential meltdown, I can promise you that every piece of information and advice in this book is backed by scientific data. Like, so much data that my publisher forced me to create a stand-alone website for it, because there wasn’t room to print every one of my citations. (Last time I counted, there were 476 direct sources in the book, and several hundred more I referenced.) In other words? This may look like a self-help book, but it’s actually hard science translated for people who speak millennial.

What is a “personal brand,” and is it really such a bad thing?

“Self-branding” is trending. It’s a kind of personal PR or living resume; a carefully curated self-image with your audience in mind, whether that’s your friends, clients, coworkers, or potential employers. It’s easiest to understand this phenomenon by looking at how we use social media: Individuals can now have their own logo or signature color, catchy taglines in their bios, a visual style for their photographs, a consistent “voice” in the messages they post. Now, more than a tactic for influencers to use, self-branding is being championed as “beneficial and necessary” in a post-internet world, especially if you care about advancing your career.

The danger of self-branding is not the positive attention it can get us from an audience, client, or employer—it’s the subconscious effect it has on our self-worth. When we begin self-brand, we begin designing who we are from the outside in, tweaking our behavior, beliefs and creativity based on audience response. Self-branding is essentially focus-grouping our identities, and this goes beyond the human tendency to perform under social pressure: we’re turning ourselves into commodities. The biggest problem with that? Brands are the immaterial cloud of qualities we assign a product, and brands are only worth what we, the customers say they are. Brands are for sale, we are not. We’re handing our self-worth over to an audience that has no idea it holds this power over us, and that’s a recipe for low self-esteem and pain.

Millennials have a stigma of being entitled, lazy, and self-absorbed. Do you see any truth to these stereotypes? Is it possible to shed that identity?

I like the writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s way of putting it: “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” I’m certain there are entitled and narcissistic people in my generation; they’re in every generation. But I don’t think that’s why these “lazy” or “entitled” stereotypes caught on the way they did.

We’re a digitally native generation who grew up with the internet and pioneered social media, right? We can spot a fake and smell an ad a mile away; we’re hard to scam and difficult to sell to. I believe the negative stereotypes now popularized in media about millennials exist for a more complex purpose than musing about “the good old days” or how to deal with employee turnover—I think the Market (which I also like to call the “Modern Factory”) is compelling us to tell them what we’re willing to spend.

How much time will we spend clocking unpaid overtime and answering emails at 11pm, just to disprove the stereotype that we’re lazy? How much effort will we expend reading and commenting on social media posts designed specifically to bait us into engaging out of rage or frustration at the social injustices depicted? (How else can we prove that we’re not self-absorbed, that we care about inclusivity, about making an impact?) How much money will we spend on self-care products meant to increase our productivity or efficiency? If we’re distrusting of giant corporations, then who will we trust, what will we try, what will we buy? These aren’t stereotypes anymore, they’re clever bait—designed to collect our data and sell us something new.

What is “success porn,” and how can I avoid it?

In porn, the actors aren’t the point—the act is. The actors become mental stand-ins for us. Nowadays, porn is a highlight reel—just short clips, often made to look homemade or amateur, designed to get us off. “Success Porn” works the same way: it’s the easily digestible soundbites, highlight reel, or point A to point B story arc of someone successful who’s life we want to emulate. These successful people become our mental stand-in: “If they can do it, maybe I can too!” Success porn is behind the zero-to-hero TV interviews and how-they-got-here podcast episodes of our new favorite celebrities: Entrepreneurs, the people who are famous for their success. The less help they had from a huge company, Hollywood, or trust fund, the more appealing their story is for success porn.

To be clear, I don’t have a problem with stories about hard work and success, just like I don’t have a problem with actual porn (between well-paid, consenting adults that is)—I just want to point out that porn isn’t the real thing. The best way to avoid being fooled by success porn is to remember that no matter how detailed the story you’re given, the mundane, messy, and sloppy details of being a human have been left out; the struggles you hear about are staged as plot points, because everyone loves a good underdog story. There’s nothing wrong with admiring successful people, just remember: They zigged and zagged all the way to where they are today, and someone cleaned all that up in editing.

Can your book really help me achieve my dreams, discover true happiness, and live my own “happily ever after”?

I wish, but nope. No book can do that. Our instant-information-Google-search world has us thinking that someone, somewhere can give us the answers we need—we just haven’t found the right “search terms” yet—and that’s just not how life works. (Trust me, I’m still pissed off about this.) I do believe, however, that my book can slow you down long enough to ask important questions you’ve never asked; to challenge the things you believe about yourself; to help you better understand your two brains (yes, you have more than one!); to re-energize your curiosity. You don’t need common sense masquerading as how-to guide—you need fresh questions, rooted in scientific research, to help you find the answers for your damn self. 
Alexis Rockley is a writer, speaker, and human pep talk. She is the author of Find Your F*ckyeah: Stop Censoring Who You Are and Discover What You Really Want (Chronicle Books, Sept 2019), and leads her Get Out of Your Own Way workshops all over the country. Rockley is also the host of the first ever voicemail-style podcast Call Me When You Get This and is the founder of How to Like Being Alive, a popular email newsletter helping millennials prioritize mental health, happiness & meaningful careers. Rockley earned her Specialization Certificate in Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2019, in a program led by the founder of the field, Martin E.P. Seligman. (Author bio taken from Goodreads.)



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