As the creator of hit television shows Grey ’ s Anatomy , Private Practice , and Scandal , and the executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder , Shonda Rhimes is one of the last people you would expect to be afraid of her own success and happiness . On the surface , Rhimes seems to have achieved the ever-elusive standard of “ having it all ” which professional women are expected to chase . At the start of her book , Rhimes explains that she has four TV shows airing Thursday nights on ABC , three beautiful children , and a loving and supportive extended family who help keep her grounded . But it is not until Rhimes ’ sister points out that she never says “ yes ” to anything , that Rhimes realizes that despite her success on paper , she is actually miserable . Year of Yes : How to Dance it Out , Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person chronicles
Rhimes ’ journey of self-discovery after she resolves that for one year , she will say “ yes ” to everything that scares her .
Shonda Rhimes characterizes herself as an extreme introvert . She writes that as a child , despite having five siblings , she played in the kitchen pantry by herself , using food cans as stand-ins for the imaginary characters in her games . As an adult , Rhimes shares that she continued to hide behind the characters in the stories and shows she created . Rhimes admits that despite her fame , she detests public appearances , even going so far as to hire a publicist so she could avoid such events . One week after making her Year of Yes pledge , Dartmouth College , Rhimes ’ alma mater , invites her to give its commencement speech . She is terrified , but agrees , kicking off a year of major transformation .
The book follows Shonda Rhimes through her adventures in yes , from her appearance on the late-night television program Jimmy Kimmel LIVE to guest starring on scripted comedy TV show The Mindy Project . Although the Dartmouth College speech is Rhimes ’ first official “ yes ,” she does not actually have to face this challenge until several months later . During the commencement speech , Rhimes describes a visible moment – even encouraging readers to check the video – of when she steps to the school podium , exhales all her fear , and becomes a new person . ( For those interested in Rhimes ’ commencement speech , the full text is included in the book ).
Rhimes further describes this internal transformation by comparing her four interviews with Oprah Winfrey . Rhimes writes that she is a strong admirer of Oprah , calling herself a member of The Church of Oprah . Initially , during her three interviews with Oprah prior to the Year of Yes , Rhimes comments that she was so nervous she essentially blacked out and cannot remember a single detail of the interviews . However , during a fourth interview after the Year of Yes , Rhimes writes that she was able to be fully present , fearless , and actually enjoy her time with Oprah .