Unf*ck Your (Social) Habitat?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Editor's Note: My Apologies go to Amy Alkon and Rachel Hoffman, the second of whom is the actual proprietress of Unf*ck Your Habitat (and author of the book of the same name), a fact I should have been aware of, but which someone mentioned on Twitter soon after I published this post. My delay in correcting this misattribution is due to the fact that I rarely log in to Twitter, relying on a third-party service to publicize posts here.

Over at Inc., Suzanne Lucas reviews a book by Amy Alkon, proprietress of the Unfuck Your Habitat web site (and author of a book with the same name). Unsurprisingly for Alkon, the book's title is Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence. Lucas admits she was planning on skipping the book until she heard an interview with Alkon and realized the book might have something to offer for many of her readers. Lucas concludes:

Image of Amy Alkon via Wikipedia.
If you've ever been the person in the office who works extra long hours only to see your co-worker get the promotion, you'll recognize yourself in this book. Learning how to stand up to people in authority and say no when you need to can actually help advance your career.

My favorite advice from the book is that just because you're afraid to do it, doesn't mean that fear is a good reason not to. When we talk about bravery we often think that "brave" people have no fear, but the reality is, brave people are afraid, they just go ahead anyway.

Alkon teaches a technique called "cognitive reappraisal" for helping you get through this. This means rethinking how you view a situation.When you come across something scary, like Alkon says, introducing yourself to an important stranger, you can either be paralyzed by fear, or you can rethink.
This is a book I wish my twenty-year-old self had gotten his hands on, and since the degree of shyness I had then is something that takes a lifetime to recover from, I am tempted to purchase it anyway.

Whatever you might think of her affinity for profanity, Alkon offers a sympathetic voice to those with hurdles of one kind or another to overcome. A good example comes from her site, mentioned above, in which she addresses the large number of people for whom cleaning house apparently comes naturally -- and yet still feel the need to insult her audience:
If you think it's easy, then this isn't for you." That's it. If you think it's easy, or stupid, or unnecessary, UfYH wasn't meant for you. If you think articles and books about cleaning are pointless, well, I'm not sure why you read them except to be a jerk about it in comments. It's meant for everyone else. For people who don't know how to clean. Or who don't know where to start. For people who can't do it the way they were taught because that takes energy or mobility that they don't have. For people who are overwhelmed. Or ashamed. It's OK to be any or all of those things, no matter what sanctimonious strangers on the internet say. If you're any of those things and you're here, you're using the resources you can find to try to make things better for yourself. Isn't that the point of the internet (well, that and cute animal gifs)?
Alkon has "been there" before, she knows how to get to a better place, and she isn't in the all-too common business of flagellating those who are trying to find their way there. If you've read this book already, feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line.

-- CAV

P.S. Please see the Editor's Note at the beginning of this post for a correction to an error on my part.


1-27-18: Added PS and Editor's Note. 

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