You Do You

How to Be Who You Are and Use What You've Got to Get What You Want


By Sarah Knight

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$15.99 CAD

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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck and Get Your Sh*t Together comes more straight talk about how to stand up for who you are and what you really want, need, and deserve — showing when it’s okay to be selfish, why it’s pointless to be perfect, and how to be “difficult.”

Being yourself should be easy, yet too many of us struggle to live on other people’s terms instead of our own. Rather than feeling large and in charge, we feel little and belittled.

Sound familiar? Bestselling “anti-guru” Sarah Knight has three simple words for you: YOU DO YOU.

It’s time to start putting your happiness first — and stop letting other people tell you what to do, how to do it, or why it can’t be done. And don’t panic! You can do it without losing friends and alienating people. Knight delivers her trademark no-bullsh*t advice about:

The Tyranny of “Just Because” The social contract and how to amend it Turning “flaws” into strengths — aka “mental redecorating” Why it’s not your job to be nice Letting your freak flag fly How to take risks, silence the doubters, and prove the haters wrong

Praise for Sarah Knight: “Genius.” — Cosmopolitan “Self-help to swear by.” — The Boston Globe “Hilarious… truly practical.” — Booklist


I’m sure you’re wondering why I called this meeting

Life gets exponentially better once you stop giving a fuck about what other people think and start doing what you really want to do. I know this in part because I wrote two entire books on these subjects and they’ve made a lot of people—even Germans!—very happy. Perhaps you are one of those people/Germans? If so, you know that my firstborn, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck, taught readers how to say no, set boundaries, and stop wasting time, energy, and money on things that don’t bring them joy.


The sequel, Get Your Shit Together, taught people how to set goals and achieve them.


But the best part about those books—apart from two enduringly useful flowcharts that still pop up from time to time on social media—is that their success enabled me to write this one.

This one is EMPOWERING.

And at the risk of blowing your mind up front, the first thing I’m going to do here is unleash the most life-changing statement I’ve made to date. My pièce de résistance. The Mona Lisa of Dear Abbys. Your new secret weapon.

In the immortal words of Destiny’s Child… are you ready for this?

Whoa. Are your arm hairs standing up a little straighter? Do you detect angels revving up a chorus in the next room? Perhaps you’re in need of a cold shower to quell the frisson in your nethers?

Awesome. That’s exactly what I was going for.

Unless… wait… maybe you just rolled your eyes and thought This woman has obviously never spoken to my parents, bosses, coworkers, or exes, who would have told her exactly what’s wrong with me. And she didn’t dial up my grade school bullies, teachers, or coaches, either, because they all know a thing or two about why I lack confidence, obsess over my imperfections, and feel generally unworthy.

Hey, now! Don’t be so hard on yourself.

And okay, fiiiiiine, maybe there are a couple of things wrong with you—like you wish you were more organized, or better with money. So what? This book isn’t called You IMPROVE You.

No, this book—You DO You—is about accepting your strengths and your flaws, whether those flaws are self-identified or just things that you’re perfectly happy about but that other people seem to have a problem with. Or, should I say, that you WOULD be perfectly happy about, if you felt a little more confident in yourself and a little less worried about what other people think.*

Anyway, you seem like a good person. I have a sixth sense about these things. So, at least for the purposes of the next three hundred pages, I absolutely meant what I said a minute ago: Unless you’re a serial killer or one of those people who keeps trying to start “the wave” when nobody around you is interested, there is nothing wrong with you.

Then, you may be wondering, why did I purchase a self-help book?

Excellent question! You’re a good person and a quick study. I love it.

And I’ll tell you why: What IS wrong—and what this nifty no-fucks-given guide shall address—is how society burdens us with conventions, expectations, and arbitrary “norms.” And as a result, many of us struggle mightily against the sneaky, suffocating pressure to conform—and then spend so much time feeling bad about ourselves that we become convinced there is something wrong with us, and we flock to bookstores and seminars and gyms and weight loss cults and etiquette experts and plastic surgeons looking for the solutions to “problems” we don’t even have.

You know what I’m talking about, and it’s total bullshit, right?

Well, that, my special snowflake, is precisely why I called this meeting. Because even though there’s nothing wrong with who you are, we live in a culture that right now, AT THIS VERY MOMENT, might be causing you to think otherwise.

When I was growing up, I was made fun of for being too nerdy, laughing too loudly, and belting out “Hey, Buster, move!” during a junior high dance DJ’s spin of the Young MC classic “Bust a Move.” (For what it’s worth, I had an uncle named Buster, so this did not seem weird to me, but neither did that social faux pas endear me to my peers. Kids can be such assholes.)

Anyway, it seemed like I could never do anything right, to fit in. The herd was traveling in one direction and I was fighting my way upstream like a buffalo with a salmon complex. To be fair, I suppose the fact that I would write that sentence proves I have an odd way of looking at the world.

But why did other kids care so damn much?

And why, as adults, should anyone keep caring whether anyone else acts a little weird, takes a few risks, or makes some unconventional life choices (like, say, deciding not to have any asshole kids of our own)?

The answer is: they shouldn’t. But people who care about that shit aren’t reading this book right now, so I’m not talking to them, I’m talking to you. I can’t change them, and—pinky swear—I’m not trying to change you, either.

What I can do is help change the way you deal with them and the way you feel about you. (If you’re into that kind of thing. No pressure.) I’ve been doing it for a while and it’s worked out pretty well for me. In fact, You Do You is probably my most personal book, in terms of Tales of Challenges Overcome, though I think it’s also the most universal—after all, who doesn’t want to just be themselves and get through the goddamn day in whatever way works for them?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?


You needn’t have been mocked at a sixth-grade dance to understand the sting of judgment or feel the pressure to conform. That can happen at any age and under many circumstances—like when you move to a new city, start a new job, or marry into a new clan. Maybe you’re a born contrarian. Maybe you’re a savant. Maybe you mixed plaids with stripes one day and decided you liked it. Lord have mercy!

Whatever the case, if you came to this book feeling different, misunderstood, frustrated, or constrained by your parents, siblings, neighbors, roommates, bosses, coworkers, Tinder matches, significant others, or society-at-large—well, I’m sorry to hear that, but you’re in the right place.

And this may sound like a tall order, but in addition to helping you accept who you are, I’m going to help you find confidence in your beliefs, your attitude, your looks, your goals, and your all-around swagger. Because all of the qualities—yes, even the flaws—that make you, YOU, also make you interesting, capable, and powerful in your own way.

You just need to own them.

What “you doing you” looks like

The advice in this book boils down to one simple mantra: Stand up for who you are and what you want. How do you do that? Stop letting other people tell you what to do, how to do it, or why it can’t be done.*

Each part of You Do You builds the argument for living life on your own terms. It covers:

The Tyranny of “Just Because”

Lowest Common Denominator Living, and why you deserve better

WNDs (what you want, need, and deserve)

The social contract, what it’s for, and where it fails

Doubters, haters, and other judgy motherfuckers

Turning your flaws into strengths—aka “mental redecorating”

When it’s okay to be selfish, why it’s pointless to be perfect, how to be “difficult,” and much, much more!

Part I (“YOU ARE HERE: An orientation exercise”)

In this section, I’ll walk you through the “social contract”—a collection of unspoken yet extremely potent rules, expectations, and obligations that may not be serving you as well as they could. Then I’ll give you a sneak peek at fifteen of its most nefarious clauses, my amendments to which will shape the rest of the book. Gimmicky? Yes. A snazzy way to organize my thoughts and marshal my arguments? That too.

Part II (“DOs & DON’Ts: Rules for the breaking”)

Here we’ll focus on the kinds of rules you learned in kindergarten that don’t necessarily apply to life as an adult, such as “Don’t be selfish” and “Do be a team player.” I’ll show you how to bend or break a few of these with an eye toward improving your life and—just as important—not ruining anybody else’s along the way.

Part III (“WILLs & WON’Ts: Not-so-great expectations”)

This is where you’ll learn how to ignore or straight-up defy people who have the nerve to tell you what will happen or how you’ll feel as a result of your life choices. In the chapter called “You will regret that” I’ll talk about making decisions that seem wrong to others but feel oh-so-right to you, and in “You won’t get anywhere with that attitude,” I’ll extoll the power of pessimism in helping you plan ahead and avoid disappointment—aka managing your own expectations.

Part IV (“SHOULDs & SHOULDN’Ts: Much too much obliged”)

If you’ve had it up to HERE with fulfilling random, stupid obligations set forth by society—whether to be nice or thin or to act submissive or sane—then Part IV is exactly what the doctor respectfully suggested. In “You should smile more,” I’ll explain why it’s not your job to be nice, and in “You shouldn’t act so crazy,” I’ll reminisce about the time I snuck a litter box and ten buckets of craft sand into my office and hoped nobody would notice. Today? I’d put that shit on Instagram Stories. Because I finally understand that I’m not obligated to speak or act in any way that robs me of living an authentic life.

And neither are you.

I wrote You Do You for people like me, who just want to do their own thing and stop caring about how their desires, motivations, opinions, and decisions are being questioned, dissected, and judged by others. For misfits, rebels, black sheep, and unicorns. For folks who want to wear white after Labor Day or spread pimento cheese on their Pop-Tarts; for those who prefer to stay single in a culture that fetishizes elaborate engagement videos or who drop out of med school to open a medical marijuana dispensary.

Shine on, you crazy diamonds.

I wrote it for all of us who feel pressured to follow rules, meet expectations, and fulfill obligations—and who don’t like it one bit. I wrote it for kids, college students, parents, and retirees, and for grandmas who left their husbands of four decades to spend their golden years with a “friend” named Mary. I wrote it for readers of my previous books but also for people who’ve never even heard of “that foul-mouthed anti-guru Sarah Knight.”

And finally, I wrote it because being yourself should be the easiest thing in the world : Wake up, confirm no Freaky Friday shit has occurred, and go about your day. Yet so many of us struggle with that—as children, as adults, as lesbian grandmas. We’ve convinced ourselves (or let other people convince us) that there’s something wrong with us. We lack confidence in our individuality and we feel compelled to conform—to be like everyone else, “fix” our “flaws,” and toe the boring ol’ cultural party line.

But what if there isn’t anything wrong with us? What if there really, truly, isn’t anything wrong with YOU?

That’s the premise I’m working from, and I think it’s mighty goddamn refreshing.

So instead of trying to change you, let’s celebrate what it means to be you—in all your weird, difficult, selfish, imperfect, antisocial, overexcited, unique, and unconventional ways. Let’s harness those “flaws” and turn them into strengths. And let’s set the record straight for all the doubters and haters who sent you running for a self-help book in the first place.

I mean, I appreciate the business, but fuck those people. Come on, let’s do you!


YOU ARE HERE: An orientation exercise

I tested my parents’ urge to smother me with my own blankie in many ways as a small child, including by refusing to take no for an answer. I mean, I was like a dog with a motherfucking bone. As their patience wore thin, and after they’d exhausted other options, Mom and Dad would inevitably start answering, “Just because.”

As in:

“Can we pleeeeeeeease go to Funtown today?”


“Why not?”

“Because it’s too late.”

“Okay, so can we go tomorrow?”


“Why not?”

“Because it will be closed.”

“So can we go the day after that?”


“How come?”


To which I would reply, “But why because?”

Yes, I was a giant pain in the ass, but it turns out I was onto something. I had happened upon—and refused to back down in the face of—the Tyranny of “Just Because.”

I’ve continued to ask “Why because?” throughout my life, and not only when I’m denied access to cotton candy and Ferris wheels. For example: the words “social butterfly,” “optimist,” and “mama bear” do not describe me, so why would I go to the party of the year just because I got invited? Why should I look on the bright side just because someone told me to? And what if I have no intention of starting a family just because that’s what all my friends are doing these days?

Oh, the tyranny!

The biggest obstacle to doing you is doing things just because that’s how everyone else does them, or because it’s the way those things have always been done. And when you deny your true nature just because you’re trying to fit in with the crowd—then you’re not doing you, YOU’RE SCREWING YOU.

Why would you want to do that?

Why because?

You Do You addresses the Tyranny of “Just Because” (for all kinds of people, not just the antisocial, pessimistic, child-free ones like me) and offers inspiration, advice, and talking points for the next time you feel the need to justify your life choices—whether to yourself, to your parents, or to a waiter who thinks a well-done burger is “an insult to the beef.”

(You do you, guy. But if it comes out medium rare, you may find your tip somewhat insulting too.)

Coming up in Part I, we’ll rap about who you are and why you’re reading this book; I’ll ask you some questions about what you want, need, and deserve from life; and I’ll describe a malady that is not yet in the DSM but certainly should be, and to which You Do You offers the cure.

Then we’ll examine the social contract and I’ll describe when you should adhere to it—before showing exactly when, why, and how you should not. Part of that “how” involves mental redecorating, which is a companion to the mental decluttering my other books are known for. This is the simple, painless process by which we’ll be turning your flaws (or what other people allege to be your flaws) into strengths—so that you may ignore the doubters, silence the haters, and do you with the exuberance of Bill Clinton at a balloon party. On Ecstasy. With interns.

Finally, we’ll go over what it means to be “unconventional” and why that is a messy, meaningless label but nevertheless germane to every page of this book.

Oh, and one more thing. I am nothing if not consistent—and mindful of how a kicky flowchart helps build my brand—so here’s a visual teaser for everything Part I has to offer. (This is just supplemental material, not an excuse to skip ahead. Don’t get cocky.)

Just who do you think you are?

Let’s start with the bad news: I don’t have the answer to the above question. I can listen to your problems, I can accept you for you, and I can nod in solidarity or pat you on the back in sympathy. But I can’t tell you who you are. Only you can do that. (Or, like, maybe astrologers can do that? I don’t know. Like I said, not my department.)

Now for the good news: In my humble, unscientific opinion, most people already know who they are and what makes them happy. They may not know exactly how to be that person or get that life, but that’s what I’m here for. And if you don’t know off the top of your head who you are and what you want, I bet that if given the opportunity and absolutely zero outside pressure, you could figure it out.

(Did I mention I’m going to need you to do that before we can move forward?)

Don’t worry, though, figuring yourself out is not as intimidating as it sounds. Playing “Who do you think you are?” is like playing a video game, and even a seven-year-old with ADD can do that.

Ready player one

The first thing you do in lots of video games is choose a character. Let’s use Nintendo’s go-kart racing classic Mario Kart as an example. (You don’t have to know anything about Mario Kart to follow along here, but if you have played it and gotten the top score on the “Bowser’s Castle” level, hearty congrats.)

In Mario World, you could be Princess Peach, who rides fast but spins out easily when hit, or a slow, methodical koopa named Bowser, who doesn’t get rattled when other players get up in your grill. (Koopas are anthropomorphic turtles. Again, not my department.) Or you could be one of two unflappable Italian brothers who run a successful plumbing business by day and chill out at the track on weekends. Mario and Luigi are just here to enjoy the ride.

You pick your character based on their strengths (and in exchange, you accept their weaknesses). Which one suits your style of play and creates the best outcome for you?

I myself have pitiable reflexes, so I prefer a slower, heavier kart that’s less likely to go over the edge after a crash. You may have more dexterous thumbs and be willing to risk a lightweight chassis for the benefits of reliably leaving Bowser in your dust. Maybe the power of invisibility is preferable to the power of hurling fireballs at your competitors. You do you.

And since right now it’s just you, me, and a bag of Doritos, how about you also take this conveniently provided opportunity to identify some strengths and weaknesses that are more pertinent to your daily life.

Are you loud? Quiet? Big? Small? Quirky? Selfish, difficult, negative, or weird? And which column do those belong in, anyway?

Jot down a few of them here (or, for ebook readers, on any sheet of paper)—no need for an exhaustive catalog, just a little something to get the juices flowing:

_________________ _________________
_________________ _________________
_________________ _________________
_________________ _________________

Next step in the game: choosing a “world” to play in. In Mario Kart, it would be a racetrack, such as Ghost Valley, Mushroom Gorge, or Moo Moo Meadows, among many others. Each has its pros and cons, but you would pick one to play based on how much fun it is for YOU.

This is a metric that shouldn’t be too hard to define, right?

Well, in life, you can also choose among various tracks: family man in the ’burbs, world traveler on the global stage, philanthropist, elite athlete, hot-dog-eating-contest champion. You can even play more than one at a time, because metaphors are not infallible and life is more complex than a video game. Regardless, only you can know which one(s) make you happy.

What’s your ideal world?

Try to come up with a sentence or two that describes it. There won’t be a quiz or anything, but writing this shit down is useful. Trust me.




All set? Great, now let’s talk about what happens when you exit the two-dimensional confines of Mario World:

When you’re faced with real-life decisions that impact your real-life happiness, do you plot your own course, design your own character, and play to your strengths? Or do you go with the computer-assigned role?

Do you feel comfortable, safe, and confident in your choices? Or are you just hoping to squeak by in the middle of the pack without getting run off the road by an anthropomorphic turtle?

These are the tough questions, and yes, I lulled you into submission and then snuck them in. But you don’t have to write down your answers, because we already both know them. If you were playing to your strengths and you did feel comfortable, safe, and confident in your choices, then you’d be out there kicking koopa ass and taking koopa names instead of reading this book and sucking nacho cheese dust off your fingers.

Hey, man, don’t hate the player. Hate the game.

No, if you’re still with me by now, I’m guessing your problem isn’t who you are or what makes you happy; your problem is that you feel like it’s not okay to be that person and want those things.

And why do you feel that way? Well, probably because other people are always telling you you’re too loud, too quiet, too big, too small, too crazy, too quirky, too selfish, too difficult, too negative, and “Hey, while we’re at it, STOP BEING SO WEIRD, WEIRDO.”

Yep. Been there, heard that.

If you hear it enough, life starts to feel like an infinite go-kart circuit where the most prudent path lies in riding the slipstream of the player in front of you—a disorder that is known (by me) as Lowest Common Denominator Living.

Lowest Common Denominator Living

This condition is evinced by the urge to stifle any or all unconventional, unusual, uncommon, odd, novel, rebellious, or unpopular aspects of one’s personality, lifestyle, or value system—and results in “just getting by” as opposed to “getting on with your bad self.”

If LCD Living describes your current circumstances, tell me, why should you waste another day in its clammy, limp handshake of a grip?

Especially when I can personally guarantee that it’s fun (and productive) to speak your mind in a meeting without caring whether people think you’re being difficult; it’s satisfying to tell your boss the truth instead of drinking the tainted Kool-Aid of office diplomacy; it’s an incredible relief to confess to a roomful of Southern ladies that you have absolutely no opinion whatsoever about china patterns; and it’s healthy to let it all hang out wherever, whenever a Shaggy song comes over the airwaves.*

Now for the best news of all: No matter what form your you-ness takes—princess, plumber, koopa—it makes no difference to me. Nor does it affect your ability to benefit from my advice. You Do You crosses sex, gender, age, cultural, and socioeconomic lines, because I’m helping you from the inside out, not the outside in.


On Sale
Nov 21, 2017
Page Count
320 pages

Sarah Knight

About the Author

Sarah Knight’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, has been published in more than 30 languages, and her TEDx talk, “The Magic of Not Giving a F*ck,” has more than nine million views. She is a New York Times bestselling author, and her other titles include Get Your Sh*t Together, You Do YouCalm the F*ck Down, and F*ck No!. Her writing has appeared in GlamourHarper’s BazaarMarie ClaireRedRefinery29, and elsewhere, and her No F*cks Given podcast hit #1 on the Apple Education charts, with more than one million downloads.

After quitting her corporate job in 2015 to pursue a freelance life, she moved from Brooklyn, New York, to the Dominican Republic, where she currently resides with her husband and two rescue cats, Gladys Knight and Mister Stussy.

You can learn more and sign up for her newsletter at, and follow Sarah on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @sarahknightauthor or on Twitter @MCSnugz.

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