When I saw “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” on an Instagram advertisement, I was immediately intrigued. I looked online to learn more about the book by psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb. She writes about the struggles her clients confront in therapy, as well as her own journey with her therapist. It really resonated, since I’ve been in therapy, too, and I decided I had to read it immediately. So one morning before a USC Trojans football game, I sped to Barnes and Noble to grab the last available copy.
What is most fascinating about this book is that everyone I know who has read it has a different takeaway. Mine is that everyone is human, so everyone has flaws. The book also demonstrates that everyone carries the power to work through these struggles, especially with help.
But when I spoke with Lori Gottlieb and asked her what she believes is the book’s most important message for college students, she told me something different.
“I think the more general lesson is our emotional lives matter and that we need to pay attention to them,” Gottlieb said.
She went on to say that once young people realize the importance of their emotional lives, to not only themselves but the people around them, “they’re able to be more vulnerable, to show up, to be more present, and also to be more present to other people.” Gottlieb is glad that young people are reading her book for those reasons.
Speaking of vulnerability, I’ll be honest. I have had anxiety about writing this. I have anxiety about writing often, but it hasn’t been this crippling in a while. It’s the first article I’ve written since senior year of high school. I also knew that Lori Gottlieb, who I admire very much, might read this piece. Then my mind raced through all the other people who might see it – my friends, my therapist, my parents, my mentors, my future employers – which added to the pressure. But once I admitted my hesitations out loud, a wise woman validated my concerns by saying that this is exactly why this piece must be written. This book encourages people to talk about their feelings. I had to do the same before I could move forward.
Gottlieb writes in “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone,” about her journey to becoming a therapist, her experience with an event that led her to start seeing a therapist, as well as the relationships and adventures of a few of her patients. These clients include a Hollywood television producer, a terminally ill young newlywed, a 20-something woman trying to date, and an older woman attempting to open her heart after years of keeping it closed.
“It’s a book about the human condition and people of all ages find themselves in the story no matter what they may be going through in their own lives,” Gottlieb said.
USC senior Sloane Martin said her biggest takeaway was to live her life more fearlessly. It helped her remember that “Life is happening right now...Stop planning for this undefined future.” Martin felt empathy for the patient in the book who fell terminally ill right after her wedding. The woman inspired Martin to live her life fully every day.
USC School of Journalism director Gordon Stables, and also the advisor for USC Girls Who Read, has his own interpretation about “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone."
“We are all unreliable narrators in our own lives sometimes,” Stables said. “There is enormous value in speaking to someone who can help us understand the deeply rooted positive and negative views we may have of ourselves.” This belief comes from Stables’s personal experience. In fact, he encouraged me to include that he, too, has been in therapy before.
Stables spoke of the book’s importance to everyone – especially to boys and men.
We should all put aside our gendered beliefs about how people, especially men, deal with their problems, Stables noted. “If you believe that the way to be a guy is to be the strong silent type that doesn’t talk about their emotions and doesn’t engage their feelings and their concerns, you’re doing it wrong and you’re doing it in a way that’s not helping yourself,” Stables said.
Gottlieb says the book’s title is deliberately broad. “It isn’t just maybe you should talk to a therapist, it’s we all need to talk more to each other.” She urges everyone, but especially college students, to “actually talk to each other,” rather than just hang out together while on their phones.
“People feel so refreshed and nourished by those interactions and we need to be having more of them,” Gottlieb said, about time spent together without technology.
This book made such an impression on me, I’ve discussed it with my mom, my grandma, my therapist, my friends. I even had the book group I founded, USC Girls Who Read, read it, too.
Maybe you should read it, too.