Finding your “hum”

4 min readNov 26, 2020

For my Intro into Reality class, we had to select an alumni book to read. For mine, I chose to read The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes as she has been an inspiration of mine for quite some time. Through reading about her experiences that ultimately made her a name in the television industry, I’ve been able to analyze certain aspects about myself prompted by her book.

Within the book, Rhimes talks about the feeling of “the hum”, which is ultimately the feeling of content when engaging in a personal passion. I had previously written an article titled Only Joy can Help You (linked below)about how intrinsic learning is the only way retain knowledge. I touched on how for most of my adolescence I was forced to learn the piano with the expectation to reach mastery but ultimately the only thing I took away from my experience was that I hated it. It was only much later did I rediscover my love for music through singing and performing as I was now able to feel the “hum”. When you feel it, the motivation emerges from the physical emotional satisfaction and not driven by force.

In The Year of Yes, she explained that is was through her saying yes to more opportunities that arise and the challenges she faces, that helped her discover the feeling. One of the first steps was:

“say yes to things that scare me, that challenge me”

When looking at this statement, the ultimate characteristic being practiced is confidence, and more specifically self confidence. Like myself, Rhimes spoke on the debilitating influence of social anxiety. I greatly related to this feeling as I also had issues with confidence growing up. The confidence in this context was regarding my sense of identity as a mixed child, as I felt I never really could identify with one identity.

Growing up, I was a people pleaser. I had a very difficult time telling people no, or would do anything in my path to make sure I wasn’t upsetting anyone. The prospect of confrontation was terrifying, as that would suggest me speaking up would upset someone. The root to these anxieties were from my fear of judgement so my solutions was to negate any stress related to others in my life. However, I had become confident in saying yes to no (which is the basis of Rhimes book) on my own accord as suppressing my own voice for the support of someone was too difficult for me to uphold if I wanted to be happy.

“If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other”

Hearing the statement above makes it a little discouraging as it states that if I am succeeding at one thing, I ultimately cannot succeed in another thing, as there is not enough time in a day to balance everything. Moreover, it reminded that there are so many paths one can take in their life as each decision changes the course of their plans, and at some point you have two decided between two paths but not both. I can relate her statement to when I was deciding two tracks for university. As I had to decide between my dream of attending a school in New York (which is where I applied to all my schools except one) or fulfilling all my film student dreams at USC. I ultimately had to make the decision as I reminded myself that whichever path I took I would always wonder about what would’ve happened, and moreover with the choice, I would be happy regardless as they were both viable options. I chose USC.

“If I don’t poke my head out of my shell and show people who I am, all anyone will ever think I am is my shell”

Having chosen to join the community of USC, I initially felt extremely out of place. It seemed that all the other students, especially in the film department, had a clear vision of their passions that they wanted to pursue. My imposter syndrome feeling so strong that I kept questioning my decision, asking my self whether I made the right choice. Maybe New York would have been the right choice but now I had already made my choice, I had to push aside my FOMO to make the best of what I got. It’s ironic because her statement was what I decided to do, and from then I began to feel more like I belonged where I was.

Many aspects of The Year of Yes came across as preachy as it revealed many lessons I had discovered on my own through my own life experiences. She put things into perspective (both as a “boss lady” and as a mother) as it reminded me of certain aspect about myself that I still struggle with to this day.

“ a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, powerful, engaged people? Are busy doing”

I feel that sometimes it helps to hear things I already know from people who are successful and look at the bigger picture, to remind me to take a step back and go for what I want both as a professional and as a passion driven person.