by Eve Rodsky
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: December 28, 2021
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
From the New York Times bestselling author of Fair Play and the Marie Kondo of relationships comes an inspirational guide for setting new personal goals, rediscovering your interests, cultivating creativity, and reclaiming your Unicorn Space.
In her acclaimed New York Times bestseller (and Reese's Book Club pick) Fair Play, Eve Rodsky urged women to rebalance their domestic responsibilities and reclaim time for themselves. Her book started a national conversation and launched a movement toward greater equality on the home front...and then quarantine hit, and life as we knew it was upended. Now all of us are faced with an even more pressing question: how can we--even in the bleakest days of working-from-home, remote-schooling, and too-much-togetherness--carve out a little time for ourselves?
This personal time--what Rodsky calls Unicorn Space, what makes us interesting--isn't just a luxury, she explains. The research is clear that it's a necessity for our mental health, our physical well-being, and our very sense of self. But how do we find any time for ourselves in a moment when we have less autonomy than we've ever had? And what do we do with that freedom when we actually get it? Find Your Unicorn Space is a practical program for reclaiming (or discovering for the first time) the natural gifts, interests, and talents that make you uniquely you. With her trademark mix of how-to advice and big-picture inspirational thinking, Rodsky shows us a clear plan to reclaim the lost art of having fun, manifest your own Unicorn Space in an already-too-busy life, and unleash your talents into the world.
Whether readers are partnered or not, have three children or none, or whether their work is paid or unpaid, Find Your Unicorn Space teaches anyone how to create time in their already-busy life to tap into their unique expression of creativity, and find purpose that will allow them to live a happier, more fulfilled life.
As the stay-at-home mom of a couple of young kids, the idea of having any structured time to myself is pretty laughable. Sure, I read and write reviews, but I do that in a shared space where I’m lucky to not get interrupted every two minutes. The thought of being able to actually do something creative for more than five minutes at a time sounds like, well, about as real as a magical unicorn. So while I felt like this book was aimed directly at my demographic, there were also some parts that didn’t work as well for me.
“[A] creative life is not a nice-to-have but a must-have. It is essential to our sense of self, our physical and mental well-being, the health of our partnerships, and our ability to model what a full and meaningful life looks like to our children, our friends and colleagues, and our communities.”
The book is divided into three parts. The first deals a lot with how the author came up with the idea of unicorn space and why it’s important. While I found some of this interesting, at times it felt a bit repetitious and, honestly, I just wanted to get to the meat of it. The second part is about how to find time and space to pursue your own unicorn space, whether that’s negotiating with a partner or with your own guilt. The author doesn’t shy away from the fact that she’s a white cishet woman, and while she made a point of including a diverse range of viewpoints and situations, this part still read very middle-class and white. It still feels like the default is a female reader with a male partner who has to convince him to take up the slack. I assume a lot of this is influenced by the author’s previous book (which I haven’t read) which dealt with the unequal division of housework and childcare in your typical cishet partnership. The third part was more of what I actually expected from this book, in that it’s an explanation of how to figure out what your unicorn space is and how to connect with others while doing it. I liked the various anecdotes of how people figured out their unicorn spaces (and what they were) but there was also a lot of rehashing of situations with uncooperative partners.
“Creativity redefined as Unicorn Space is the active and open pursuit of self-expression in any form, built on value-based curiosity and purposeful sharing of this pursuit with the world. ”
I really liked the concept of “unicorn space.” First off, it’s not something that you’re doing to get paid. Secondly, it’s a creative pursuit that benefits you, not your partner, kids, or any other random family members. Third, you need to share it, whether that’s just with a group of friends or with the world at large. It’s not a hobby, it’s more of finding meaning for your life – and from there comes happiness and, hopefully, a better world. It sounds a bit lofty, but it’s hard to argue that people having an identity outside of work or child-raising would make them happier, and there’s several points from the book that I intend to at least attempt to implement in my life, like setting up solitary time for both myself and my spouse. However, not all of it worked. It’s not that I found the information unhelpful, but rather that the author’s tone was a bit too “rah-rah go girl!!!” for me. There’s something called the “Slay It Forward share” (basically passing on your expertise and love of your unicorn space) and while I find the idea commendable (though not particularly revolutionary), the cringey name is just one example of the type of non-ironic cheerleading throughout the book. There’s a lot of assumptions that the reader is financially secure and has a partner that’s willing (and able) to compromise, and the author is relentlessly cheerful about how to work out miscommunications with partners.
Overall, while I’m more than ever convinced about the importance of prioritizing creativity in my life, that overall message felt like it would work best for a narrow segment of the population. So if you’re an overworked mom who’s looking for something outside of being a spouse, worker, and mother, this book might give you the impetus to expand your creative horizons.