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3 Unconventional Lessons from How To Be A Bawse (by Lilly Singh)

Enclosed: reflection prompts to apply these lessons to your situation

By Lucy Dan (she/her/她)Published 3 years ago 5 min read
3 Unconventional Lessons from How To Be A Bawse (by Lilly Singh)
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Lilly Singh, a Youtuber (and now a Late Night Show Host) may have targeted this book to a younger audience, but her ideas are applicable across the lifespan.

That's why I wanted to distill the three biggest lessons I learned from her book in a way applicable to an older, more mature audience. This speaks to the generalizability of these life lessons!

I included reflection prompts (journalling, anyone?) to support applying these concepts into your life.


[1] Build an environment that supports you

By Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

Lilly specifically discusses having empowering phone and desktop wallpapers as a way to build an environment that reminds you of your goals. Truthfully, I had my qualms about this piece of advice; I've had my own "cute Pinterest wallpaper" phase and abandoned it as I grew older.

I dug deeper.

What I realized was that I had abandoned this trend because it focussed solely on positivity quotes. I hated that it was building up an environment of toxic positivity, without taking into account the true barriers that I was facing.

"Thinking happy thoughts" and ignoring the true obstacles I had ahead of me wasn't practical and wasn't going to solve my depression. I still stand by this.

To me, I'm learning that the deeper lesson is about creating an environment that aligns with your goals. If we're talking about phone wallpapers, this looks like:

  • words about honouring emotions and learning from them,
  • balancing self-care and my curiosity and drive to learn and build a career
  • concepts about routines and their impact on long-term goals

You can see these concepts are specific to me, so become more nuanced than "Just do it". If you can't find the right ones, give yourself permission to get creative and design your own.

Beyond the wallpapers, building an environment that supports you might look like:

  • Getting rid of things that no longer serve you or bring you joy in your life (Marie Kondo!)
  • Nourishing the friendships that are valuable and supportive and reciprocal rather than burning yourself out fueling ones that aren't
  • Building a budget that works for you

Reflection Prompts

  • So, what kind of environment would best support you? 
  • What does it look like? 
  • What do you have? 
  • Who is in your life?
  • Jot these down.


[2] The three layers to your thinking ft. delicious tiramisu

By Julie MARTINS on Unsplash

The second lesson involves tiramisu, and wow, do I love cake analogies.

Lilly tantalizingly describes a set of 3 reflecting questions on your belief system as layers of a tiramisu:

  • What are you telling other people?
  • What are you telling yourself?
  • What is really going on?

The first layer is your explanation to others for why something happened or why you behaved a certain way.

E.g., I tell others that I don't submit to publications because I don't know how they work.

The second layer delves into how you're justifying things to yourself.

E.g., I'm telling myself that the real barrier is that I just don't know how publications work yet, but I'm going to learn. Yet I know that procrastinating on this task because I truly haven't made the time towards actually taking the time to learn the rules for each publication.

"What is really going on?" digs deeper to tackle what the true barriers are.

E.g., I deeply fear rejection because my self-worth is inextricably tied to whether my achievements and whether others accept me and the existence of an article rejection embodies both. I'm afraid of creating situations where I submit my thoughts and opinions into a situation where both of my fears can come true.

I bring out these questions from time to time to guide my journaling, as a way to untangle things that I'm finding difficult. There are always excuses that I give myself (tier 2 tiramisu) that are masking rawer emotions that lay deeper in this cake. Once the deeper layer is exposed, I can easily work around the real issue.

All this time, I'd been tackling the so-called problem of not having enough time, when in reality I'd been snoozing this task over and over again out of fear. By journaling, I can create an action plan for rejection, and to make space to acknowledge that

  1. I could also be accepted into publications and
  2. even if I get rejected and it's embarrassing, after all of those feelings settle, I can channel my energy into learning what worked, what didn't work, and put these aspects into my next article.

It helps to have a framework that you can just whip out and apply, rather than having to process the emotions without any guidance.

Reflection Prompts

  • What's something you've been struggling with lately?
  •  What are you telling other people is the reason for your struggles? 
  • What are you telling yourself? 
  • What is really going on deep down?
  • Jot them down.


[3] Amplify voices you align with instead of shutting down other people's right to speak

By Possessed Photography on Unsplash

The existence of algorithms has pushed messages that are most emotionally charged to the top. We click on the headlines that speak to our fear, our anger the quickest; our brains have evolved to respond to threat with speed.

That's the issue though. Have you ever been in a heated twitter thread where it seems like everyone is just yelling and no one is intaking any information? Better yet, a screaming match in a family dinner where everyone believes they are right and there's no movement forward at all?

My dilemma:

  1. I value freedom of speech, including those who speak about things that oppose my point of view.
  2. Algorithms amplify and concentrate the most extreme views into one spot, perpetuating dangerous views, harmful conspiracy theories, false medical information etc.

I want to stress that there is a gap between the two points. As humans, we're prone to black and white thinking, and we so easily villainize the views of those who disagree with us, dismissing their one view as representative of their entire personality.

Between "person who has a different opinion than me" and "someone who advocates harm" can definitely exist a wide space. I can honour that someone can have a different view than mine that is valid, well-supported in evidence; they simply come from a different context.

I realized that what I wanted to put my energy into is the type of change that I sincerely want to move forward. The resulting action that aligns with that should be to amplify the voices that I believe in, rather than trying to argue some dude on Twitter; and to only engage with those who disagree in a respectful way.

It really comes back to that age-old wisdom of nourishing the plants and not the weeds. This is about placing your effort strategically on what you want, instead of overly fixating on what you don't want.


Reflection questions

  • What is important to you? 
  • What are the voices, the organizations, the activists that support this voice? 
  • How can you support them?
  • What are some ways that you've been engaging with people who aren't ready to listen? 
  • What would you prefer to be doing instead? 
  • How do you notice that you're falling into that trap of "arguing some random on Twitter" (or your version) again?
  • Jot these down.



  1. Surround yourself with an environment that supports you.
  2. Consider your internal beliefs by questioning what you're telling others, yourself, and what is truly happening when you reach a pain point.
  3. Channel your energy into amplifying the voices you agree with.


Hop down the rabbit hole?

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About the Creator

Lucy Dan (she/her/她)

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    Lucy Dan (she/her/她)Written by Lucy Dan (she/her/她)

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