Lessons from romance novels
Ep. 278
| with
Lessons from romance novels

Follow Along:

In this episode, I explore the shame and societal judgments around pursuing joy. You know that feeling when you’re guilty for enjoying something that’s seen as “childish” or not “intellectual” enough? We’ve all been there. But, I’m excited to share my personal journey of rediscovering joy through romance and fantasy novels and why it’s totally okay to prioritize what makes you happy, even if society disagrees. We’ll talk about shaking off the shame, embracing new passions, and the flexibility of our identities. Listen to redefine what brings you joy!

Show Transcript
Hey! Welcome to Lessons from a Quitter where we believe that it is never too late to start over. No matter how much time or energy you've spent getting to where you are. If ultimately you are unfulfilled, then it is time to get out. Join me each week for both inspiration and actionable tips so that we can get you on the road to your dreams.
Hello my friends. Welcome to another episode. I'm so excited for you to be here. This one is a little cheeky, , a little, not like what I usually do, but there were so many reasons I had to do this episode and so I was like, you know what? It's getting towards the end of the year. Let's do something a little fun.
Okay, so I wanna talk to you today about all the lessons I've learned from becoming obsessed with romance novels in the last like six months. It's the funniest thing that has happened and I wanna explain to you what has happened and why I have just learned so much about myself, about the world, about my friends, through romance novels, which is not something I ever thought you would hear me say. So guess there's room for growth. I promise this will make sense and I promise this will be helpful and it really does go online. If you're new here, maybe don't start with this one. I mean, unless you're on book talk and hello, welcome, I love you. You might wanna start with another one, but it will tie into really everything I've learned about mindset and identity and, it's just been really fascinating. So I wanna talk to you about my journey into the world of romance novels and I mean like romance and fantasy and, you know, just a bunch of things. Okay.
So here's the thing. I never thought that I would read any of these books to be honest with you. And I was very judgmental of people that read 'em. And I had a lot of thoughts about what they were and what they were like and how, I don't know, not childish, but like unintelligent, like the writing. I just, you know, I dunno, fancied myself as an intellectual. And I realized that was a lot of judgment. I fully understand that I fully embrace that and it was wrong.
And anyways, the way this happened was, I have a group of girlfriends and they have all been into these books for a really long time and they all talk about 'em, and they're on these group text chains and they've tried to get me to read 'em and I've resisted for years, and I'm just like, no, it's not my thing. I don't care for it. I don't like it. I don't like reading books like that. And then I eventually gave in, there was one series they had me start with that they wanted me to read and they wanted to all read it with me.
And I was like, fine, you know what? Fine, let's just do this. Well, as you know how that goes, that story, uh, I became obsessed and I loved it, and I was like, what? Where has this been in my life now? There's been a couple things that I've, I think led to this point. I think that I had been reading a ton for years of like self-help and I was just kind of sick of self-help. Like I think you get to a place where you're sort of just done with personal development, at the same level that you were.
I think a lot of us that find personal development and really find the beauty in it and how much it can help you kind of become obsessed for a while. And that was me. And I wanted to learn everything and I wanted to read everything. And then I was really trying to get better at reading more and not being on my phone more. And I started reading some fiction and that was more interesting. But I was reading a lot of dark, like, not just dark, but the topics were heavy. I would be crying a lot. And you know, we live in a heavy world all the time, like social media, there's just so much sadness that you see. And I kept thinking like, why am I doing this to myself? Like, why am I using my off time to baw, like sit and read these books and hysterically cry about like, genocides that are happening and terrible things that happened to people and whatever.
Even though they were great books, I just sort of needed a break. I was like, I need to not think I want to veg out. I want to have something that just has a happy ending that is like, light and fun. So anyways, that was sort of where I was and I decided to read these books. And just for the purposes, I will not be giving you recommendations. I'll not be talking about the books that I read. You can feel free to go on your own journey, but that, that's a step too far for me right now. So let's just say that I read a series and I really loved it, and I just felt like it was just really fun and I, it be.. I became insatiable. Like I just wanted to read all of the series that they had read. I wanted to read all the books that they recommended.
And so why am I telling you all this? 'cause there's a lot of lessons I've learned in the last six months that I've gone through this, that this, like, I kind of picked up on this hobby, and it's been really interesting to watch. And so I wanted to share it with all of you.
The first is just the shame that patriarchy puts on what women find joyful. What was really fascinating for me was even saying how much judgment I had and how much shame I had for liking these books. And I think how many women feel that way where it's like, if you look back at history, and this is like a very established within the patriarchy, is like any art that is made by women is almost instantly de-legitimized as not serious, not talented enough, not intricate enough or whatnot.
And if it's made by men and it's tailored to men, then somehow, you know, those artists are better. And you can see this is like most of the famous artists have been men in any sphere, whether it's authors painter sculptors, all that stuff. And it's not because they're any more talented than women, it, it's simply that the patriarch is always catered to men. And at the time like this, you know, uh, during these last six months we've seen that happen again, like with like the Barbie movie and other movies where like, again, Hollywood has always been more focused on what men enjoy and that is taken or seen as somewhat more serious or have being more artistic integrity or I don't know, whatever it might be, as opposed to like, and, and decisions are made up based off that and women are told how they should feel.
And for so many of us, I think we do fall in line with the patriarchy and we learn to enjoy things that men enjoy because that's what we're told to enjoy. And then when you find things that are made by women for women and you're like, oh my God, I actually enjoy this so much more, but I should feel shame about it because it's childish, because it's silly because it's not as intellectual, because it's not as serious, right?
And what was, it's fascinating is that oftentimes that you see that played out with anything that prioritizes joy, anything that has really a happy ending. Anything that like, lets you feel good for a second is denounced as childish or denounced as not serious or denounced as not as, you know, advanced whatever terminology you wanna use. And it was fascinating for me to see this with myself reading these books that I was ashamed to have people know what I was reading or I was ashamed to talk about liking it.
Or when I told people, oh, my friends that I was gonna do a podcast, I told my husband I was going to do a podcast. He was like, oh my God, don't, don't. And I was like, why? Why, why can't I talk about the fact that I enjoy these books, right? What does that say about me? Like, what would people think because I enjoy these books, that makes me what, right?
And it was really fascinating for me to see like, huh, there's nothing inherently wrong with these books. They're, there's actually a lot right with them and they're very enjoyable and they're very fun. So then what is it? Why is it that we are made to feel, so terrible and so shameful for liking certain things and what this is, you know, a bigger theme in my life, I'm, I've been spending the last year specifically, but even more than the last year, really digging into where I get my joy and whether that's like how I can lean more into that, even if it's not something that's acceptable by society, even if it's not something that is deemed quote unquote productive or valuable. Like, can I just do something just because I enjoy it, not because it's gonna lead to something better or it's gonna make me money, or it's going to just because it brings me joy.
And so it was really interesting because I was finding like, I really love these books, and yet, you know, I, I would see women, I would, I would talk to so many people who's like, you know, I only read these on Kindle, on my Kindle and not, 'cause I don't want people to see the pa like paperback book. I don't want them to see the title I'm reading. And it's just fascinating. It was just fascinating. It's fascinating for me. It's fascinating. I mean, you can kind of think about what you thought when you saw the title of this podcast or when you heard me talk about like, the fact that I wanna talk about romance and fantasy novels, what your initial judgements were, right?
And again, I'm saying I had the same one, so I'm not judging you for judging them like we are all instilled with that. But I remember for me really thinking like, but what if I choose not to be ashamed? What if I'm not ashamed about this? What if this is something that is really bringing me happiness right now this year and I'm so freaking excited about that and like, thank God for that because the world is really dark and scary at times and can be really heavy. And if this makes me happy, then who the hell cares? Right? If I would rather read this than read some, you know, trilogy about World War II and all of the terrible things that have happened, why is that to say one is better than the other? Right? So that was first, I think it's just for me has still divided just how much shame we put on what women enjoy, and the way that they enjoy it, and how we try to de-legitimize that.
And I think for me, with any of us, like there's obviously a society, but we can root the way we start to root out patriarchy. The way we start to root out, uh, white supremacy. The way we start to root out these systems of oppression is by rooting it out within ourselves first, right? Is by realizing like, can I say, can I talk about this without having shame? Can I decide, like, I will not be ashamed be that I like this, that this is what I wanna do, right? Other people can have their judgments, other people can think whatever they want. I'm proud of it. I'm excited that I found something, right? So that was the first lesson that I've sort of taken these kind of six months, which is really why I wanted to do this podcast because so many people told me not to because so many people think that it's so embarrassing to talk about. Like, I wanted to question why, right? Why does this somehow make me like, I don't know, less smart? Is that what it is? Like I'm less intellectual I'm less serious. What is it?
And I think we need to have these conversations more, I talk about this a lot in my membership in the club, that shame only, you know, Brene Brown talks about this. Obviously a lot of her work is that like shame only exists in the dark. Shame only exists because you think there's something wrong with you and you only that can only perpetuate if you don't talk to other people to see, oh, hey, they also believe this thing. And so, the more we talk about it, the more you become unashamed. And that leads to the second lesson that I learned is that it opened me up to an entire different world that I did not know existed.
So I am just living about my life not really realizing how big romance and fantasy novels are. Like I knew people liked them. I knew there's obviously a market for them. You know, I always thought of them as like the Fabios, like, like when I was growing up. Like those were like the not romance novels. Like that was what the image was in my mind. And what was interesting is that when I started reading these, you know, the group that I was mentioning that had been reading these, they would send me like TikToks from a, uh, very distinct set of creators that are known as book talk. Like there's an a side of TikTok that's known as book talk that is huge, okay? Huge and hilarious and amazing and uplifting and so funny. And it was fascinating.
Like the more I, you know, you know how algorithms work. Like as I started engaging in this content, I started seeing this content more and it started feeding me this content and it started showing me book talk kind of bloggers that review these books and, and all that stuff. And I was like, there is a whole world that I just didn't know existed a month ago. I had no idea these people were here. I had no idea this was happening. And what was interesting was that the more that they talked about it, the less I felt ashamed about liking these books or wanting to kind of be in this world, right? You start feeling this comradery.
And this goes back to like the shame part when I talk about, like, if you talk about it and you start seeing like, oh, there's a lot of people that enjoy this. There's a big market out there for this because women enjoy certain things and we've simply just dismissed what they enjoy right up until now. And so when you allow them to have the things they enjoy, there's a large community of them out there that find each other. And there's a lot of people that create such. I mean, when I tell you the hours I've spent laughing on book talk, it has brought the, the amount of joy it is brought into my life is unparalleled, right?
And I was so happy I found this entire world. I was like, I didn't even know this existed. How, how has this been here for this many years? How did you all know about this? And nobody said anything. I always feel like this. I don't know if you guys do, this just may be my weird thing, but like, I'm always very keen and like observant when I find someone on social media and then like I go to their profile and they see that they have like, you know, 5 million followers or 15 million followers or something, or even 1 million. And I'm like, I never even knew this person existed. I don't even know who they are, right? And it just, it's always a good reminder of like how big the world is and how much is out there that you don't know, that you haven't discovered that you wasn't in your world. And it doesn't mean it doesn't exist, it just like really shows the level of possibility out there. And I always use that as an example of like, there's just so much out there.
And so, you know, for a lot of people that I work with on their businesses, they'll always say like, oh, there's just too many people. Like, there's too many people doing this. There's too many coaches coaching on this. I'm like, do you know how many people are out there? You know, how many people are like, have million dollar businesses you've never even heard of? You don't even know exist, right? Like, there's just so much out there.
And I think the second lesson for me really was like, oh my God, there are so many worlds I haven't discovered. There's so many things I haven't discovered, right? There's so many things that I could get into that I could find that is like my biggest passion that I haven't even discovered. And like, discovering #BookTok was really like, I mean, it, it's, I think what made this experience so much more fun and you know, so much and it created more of community. Like I feel as if I'm in a community with a lot of people now there are my girlfriends that I get to talk to about this and we get to have, you know, our silly little book clubs and we have so much fun of them. And then there's people just online that like, you know, I mean we have these para-social relationships where you feel like you're in a relationship.
Like I truly feel like I have best friends that don't know I exist. And they're, I didn't even know they existed a couple months ago, which is just amazing. And so I just think like, it's just always a reminder to me that there's just so much out there, there's so much out there for you to discover. Which leads me to my third lesson.
There's so many undiscovered passions that you have that are out there that you don't know about, right? One of the things I work with a lot of people on is that like, I don't know what I wanna do. I don't have any other passions, I don't have any other skills. I don't know what else I would do in my life. And we are all very blocked because we have been taught to be blocked and we have been really forced to think about our lives in, in like limited to what we know and what we see and the people around us and what we've done for work.
And so we really limit ourselves and we don't allow ourselves to even dream. And I always talk about this with everybody in my membership, with the people that have been in my group that like every one of us is Multifacet a multifaceted person. Every one of us has tons of curiosities. There isn't one passion in your life because you will, you likely would be able to be passionate about a lot of different things, right?
A lot of that is suppressed in our society because we are told like, you're gonna be a doctor so you only focus on this or you're gonna be a lawyer. And so we stamp out other parts of our personalities because we focus so hard on one thing to be successful. And part of coming back to yourself is rediscovering what is your, like where you find joy, what lights you up and that is outside of your career. Like what in your life brings you joy? What in your life sparks your interest? What are you curious about? What do you wanna learn about? What do you wanna talk about?
All of those things can help you, like as breadcrumbs kind of get back into like, what am I interested in? But the thing that I is the most exciting to me, the most liberating is like, there are things that I likely would be super passionate about that I haven't even discovered yet. I don't even know exists. I didn't know people do it. Right? There is so much in this world, and this has been such an incredible example for me. Like I said, I mean the last couple years I have been trying to bring on this identity of being a reader and it has been like a stop and go. And I've been, you know, setting, trying to change habits and set goals and get to different places of reading.
And it was always like kind of my force. I would fall asleep at night when I was reading and I was, 'cause I was reading like these self-help books that are like basically textbooks. And it wasn't that exciting. And so what was interesting was like as soon as I discovered this, I just became a ravenous reader. I just wanna read all the time, which I'm gonna get to as one of the other lessons. But what was interesting, I was like, I wasn't even passionate about this six months ago. I had no idea this even existed.
And now it's like, I joke about it with my friends. It's like my whole personality. It's all we talk about. And it's so fun. It's so fun for me. It's so fun to not talk about coaching for a while or personal development or mindset and like think about something else. But the lesson I really take from it is like, what else is out there that I haven't even discovered? What else is out there that I could love, absolutely love, right? What else is out there that would light me up that I just didn't even know existed? And I think when you take a look at
The world in that way, there's just so much possibility as opposed to thinking that like your personality is something that's already set and you already know everything and there's nothing you're passionate about. It's like, that's just not true, right? And so I would really encourage you if you feel that way to just try things. It's not too late, it doesn't matter. I'm 41 now, right? I just kind of learned about this. Like I said six months ago in my forties. I'm sure in my fifties I'll discover something new in my sixties, I'll discover something new. Maybe I'll learn that I love gardening. Maybe I'll, you know, like become into pottery. Who knows? There's just so many things you can do.
And I will say as a caveat to that, what's fascinating, and I obviously this comes up because of, not a caveat, as an addition to this lesson, this comes up because of the work I do. And I'm always thinking about like how to help people figure out what they wanna do for money and how they wanna make money. So I'm always thinking about these things and like, how could you monetize this? And how could you create this as a career? But what was interesting is like, as soon as I started like really getting into reading a lot of these, I was like, maybe I could write one. I think I could probably write one of these novels. I think I get kind of the gist of it and I can come up with that sort, you know? And I don't think I ever will. But what was fascinating, I was like, there's a whole nother career. Maybe I become a romance novel. Who knows? Maybe at some point when I stop being a life coach, I move on to my second. I mean my third, fourth, who knows fifth career of romance novels.
But it could be, it really could be. And I really was like, again, just taking this as an example of like, there's so much out there that I've never even considered. I didn't even know I liked, right? And so this is not just true for me. This is true for all of us, right? I want you to be aware of that. I want you to look for that. I want you to give yourself time to try things. Now, this is one passion. I could have very well read those books and like, it's not for me. And that has happened numerous times.
I've tried so many hobbies in the last five years that people love and I'm like, Hmm, just not for me. And that's okay. 'cause it's not gonna all be home runs, right? You keep doing it until you see like, oh, I actually do like this. I don't like this. This is what lights me up. These are the things that, you know, I gravitate towards. And you start getting better at predicting what you're gonna like, you know, and whatnot. So that was, what was that three? That was the third lesson.
The fourth lesson. And I've talked about this even, you know, going back to this kind of discovering passions is really like thinking about your identity. And what is interesting is that I I never consider myself a reader. I'm obvious, like I consider myself more of like an outgoing person. Like really loving being around people. What's been fascinating for me to think about since I've started doing this, like reading these books, is that like, again, like we joke, I joke about it with my friends, but it's like sort of real. It's like, I, I only wanna be home and I wanna read.
That's it. Like I don't wanna be anywhere. Every time I'm at like a, a party now I'm like, when is this gonna wrap up so I can go home and read? And I was thinking about that. I was like, if I had started this when I was like a teenager, my identity would have become like, oh, I'm just an introvert. I only like to read. I like to be at home. I like to be alone. Right? It's fascinating that we take these things that like maybe light us up or passions that we have and we create identities around them. We create like I am this, I am that. And we become really fixated in those, right? And none of us are just like these monoliths. None of us are just one thing. None of our identities are fixed. Even our personalities. So many of our personalities are just responses to the traumas that we faced, to things that we needed, you know, to protect ourselves growing up to our passions. They're just ways that we've responded to stimuli around us. And they, those can be changed.
And so what's interesting is, like, I, it's fascinating at the age of 41 to like fa consider myself as like a book nerd and to be someone that just wants to read all the time. 'cause that's just never been my identity, but it is now . I'm getting there, trust me. And so I, it's just a good lesson of like how fluid identity is. And I think for so many of us, we create these sentences of I am blank, and then we make that fix. I am introverted, I am extroverted. I like being around people. I just like being home and reading. I just, and it's, it's been a good exercise to question that. Like, what if it's not kind of set in stone? What if this is because of the stimuli around you? What if that changes? What if that's fluid? Right?
And I will say that my identity has become one of a reader. What was interesting is like this year, at the beginning of the year, I had set a goal to read 36 books, which was more than last year. I'd had like 24 books. And so again, this is what I'm telling you, like, I'm trying to become a reader. I had been trying, and I was reading like two books a month and I was like, maybe I could up it to three books a month. Y'all, I'm recording this on Halloween. It's October 31st. I am at like 65 books right now. Right now, right? And I was like, okay, I just didn't find the books that I wanted to read. When I find those, you can't get me to stop. I just wanna read all the time, right?
And so it's interesting to see like what happens when so many of us are kind of forcing our identities to be one thing. And when you find something that like you're interested in, sometimes it can be easier. Sometimes that switch can be easier. And the last thing I will lead with, like my last lesson here on my fifth lesson is again, it was interesting for me, like I have been like a, most of us, I think trying to get rid of this addiction to my phone and get rid of like buffering with my phone so much and constantly scrolling. And no matter what I tried, I would try all these hacks. And what was interesting is like when I just, and I, and I again coach people a lot on this, like buffering is a really important part of what our brain does.
Like our brain needs to self-soothe because there's just stress. There's a lot of stress in our lives. And so we find ways to kind of alleviate some of that stress and get dopamine. So I don't think there's anything wrong with buffering, but I would find myself like really, like obviously like having a lot of negative effects from the amount I was on my phone.
And I would try these things of like putting limits on my phone and trying and the urge to be on my phone was too much always until I started finding these books. And it was so fascinating that I just stopped going on social media. Like literally it plummeted. It was just like hours a day to like 30 minutes. I just like didn't have any interest on being on Instagram. I mean, I would be on #BookTok.
So I did do some TikTok more, but I just wanted to be reading. And it was interesting that this thing that I had created this big, like, oh my God, I'm addicted to my phone and I can't get off and I'm so weak. And like, it was just like within a day just, all right, well I don't really wanna be scrolling, right? I'd rather be doing this other thing. And so I just say that as as if like, again, I think when we come from compassion and look at like, why is my brain doing this thing? Why does my brain need this so much? What is the urge that is, what is the reason for the urge, right? For me, it was an escape. Like my phone was an escape from the stress of the day. And when I found something else to give me that escape, to gimme that break, right?
When I stopped trying to fill my day with all productivity and I allowed myself to just like lay and read for 30 minutes, the desire to be on my phone dropped. And I think oftentimes we are just trying to like, productivity, or hack our way into becoming the perfect person instead of understanding why we're doing the things we're doing. And it was really interesting for me to see, like, I'm not addicted to my phone. That's a lie. I just didn't have anything else to replace it. There was nothing else that gave me that quick dopamine hit.
Which by the way, now when I go back on social media, it's wild how much dopamine you get flooded with. Like how intense that is. Like after a couple months where like I don't really scroll as much. The addictive factor is insane on social media. But again, like I just have something else that I'm looking forward to.
Now, again, as a caveat to this one, you can buffer with anything. And I promise you I'm absolutely buffering with reading at this point. There's a lot of times where I should not be reading where I need to be working, and I'm like, hmm, let's just read for 30 more minutes, right? So it's not to say that like, I have this now like very healthy, like, you know, outlet. And I'm doing everything perfectly. I'm not, you can still buffer. You can numb with anything that lets you escape your reality, right? Or lets you escape the negative feelings you don't want to feel. And I absolutely do that with books and I'm okay with that. I don't mind it, right? I think I would rather buffer with that than social media. I also realize, again, the need for buffering. I do want like, want to be more conscious about it and decide when, you know, I'm okay with some buffering and when that needs to kind of stop.
But so this isn't to say that like I gave up the phone and now I'm, you know, this super, you know, saintly perfect person who does all my work and doesn't need it. No, I just buffer with something different. I just prefer that. So, so that's, that's, you know, what I've been doing for the last six months. What's been so interesting is like having this whole new other side, this whole year I've really been trying to like have more of a life outside of my work, more of a life outside of my business, doing more things that bring me joy, focusing on my health. We've talked a lot about that. That like my goal for this year was my health. And part of my health was my mental health. And I'm telling you, this is transformed my life. It's been one of the funnest projects, one of the funnest like new things that have come into my life.
It's brought me endless amounts of joy. It has made working so much easier because like, I'm just happier. I'm happier. I'm not constantly on the death scroll of Instagram. And so yeah, I figured I should share all that with you because I think all those lessons are really important. And I think there's things that I've, and I continue to learn as I go through this. The other thing I will say, I talked about this, but the community aspect is insane. Like the community I feel the closeness I feel with my friends, just having these inside jokes, talking about these things, talking about subjects that again, were taboo and shameful that we were never talking about before, has created a level of intimacy and connection that I haven't had with my girlfriends in any other forum. There's just so much to it. So this is my plug to get into romance novels and fantasy books. Not really, it doesn't have to be your thing, that's totally fine.
But I do want you to think about the fact that there's just so much out there for you. There's so many things that you could discover that could bring you really a lot of joy. That's a lot of us don't allow us to do. 'cause we don't think we have enough time. We don't think it's, we think it's silly. We think other people will judge us. And hopefully I can be an example to you that who caress follow your joy, find it, prioritize it. Do not be ashamed of it. Talk about it. Uh, let it change your personality, let it change your identity. Let it show you the possibilities. It's been super fun and I hope that you resonated with this episode and it wasn't too weird. And I promise we'll be back to straight mindset next week. All right, my friends, I'll talk to you soon.
Hey, if you are looking for more in-depth help with your career, whether that's dealing with all of the stress, worry, and anxiety that's leading to burnout in your current career or figuring out what your dream career is and actually going after it, I want you to join me in the Quitter Club. It is where we quit what is no longer working. Like perfectionism, people pleasing imposter syndrome… and we start working on what does, and we start taking action towards the career and the life that you actually want. We will take the concepts that we talk about on the podcast and apply them to your life and you will get the coaching, tools, and support that you need to actually make some real change. So go to lessonsfromaquitter.com/quitter club and get on the waitlist. Doors are closed right now, but they will be open soon.