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3 Lessons from Gabrielle Union

Books written by celebrities often spew the classic rags to riches storyline. That, ‘I used to lick the peanut butter jar for supper because I had no money to buy food’ kind of struggle. And because hope and relatability is an intensely powerful thing, the publicity starts rolling in, with the angle being: if I can do it, so can you.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that We’re Going to Need More Wine isn’t at all like that. It balances serious topics with funny memories and there is an air of authenticity throughout. There are moments to take in where you just want to reflect, and others that make you want to call someone and have a chat about it. So, without giving too much of the book away, here are 3 lessons that stood out.

Money lets you make decisions

There is a chapter in the book titled ‘Big bank takes little bank’ and as the name suggests, it has to do with money. “It’s a simple rule dictating that whoever has more money wins.” Although she was speaking about her romantic relationship, I think this is applicable across all aspects of life.

When you have money, you have (increased) power and influence. We see this premise in action everywhere really from the rise of influencers to the winning candidate in presidential elections (e.g. Donal Trump – striking display of what money can do).

Your world is only as small as you make it

It all starts with the first step. If you want to start a business, pitch to your neighbour, best, grandmother even and get them as a paying client. They might not pay what you want yet, but it’s the dynamics that matter. From then on, you can only move forward. Plan, and take the first step because at the end of it all you will probably only sit back and envy those who decided to do what you hesitated to do.

I’m fortunate enough to live in a city where there are tonnes of hole-in-wall like places, so the adventure never really stops. A robust exposure to different languages, foods, cultures and experiences makes you think about the life you want for yourself, and indirectly encouraging you to go out there and create it.

Be hue you want to be, regardless

It is sad and sobering to realize how dark or light you are perceived as being (most likely by someone of your own race) sometimes determines who is deemed worthy deserving of romance.

The question of desirability, who we believe is worthy of love, affection and attraction is the golden thread that runs through the book. You see Gabrielle actively navigate colourism at home, school, in her teenage social circle as well as into adulthood and the workplace. I’m pretty sure her being made to feel less-than because of something she cannot change is the most relatable piece of content out there for anyone.

Beauty doesn’t have a colour. Whether you are dark or fair skin, embracing your hues and tones is the genesis of your beauty. When in doubt, refer to lesson 2 – go out there, make the world (or your city) your oyster and discover a whole new world outside of what you’re accustomed to. If you must deal with someone who thinks that you are not worth loving just because your undertone is yellow and that isn’t a vibe, or because your skin is too light or too dark,  then that person is not for you – throw the whole thing away.

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