Approval Junkie

My Heartfelt (and Occasionally Inappropriate) Quest to Please Just About Everyone, and Ultimately Myself
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From comedian and journalist Faith Salie, of NPR's Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me! and CBS News Sunday Morning, a collection of daring, funny essays chronicling the author's adventures during her lifelong quest for approval

Faith Salie has done it all in the name of validation. Whether it’s trying to impress her parents with a perfect GPA, undergoing an exorcism in the hopes of saving her toxic marriage, or maintaining the BMI of “a flapper with a touch of dysentery,” Salie is the ultimate approval seeker—an “approval junkie,” if you will.

In “Miss Aphrodite,” she recounts her strategy for winning the high school beauty pageant. (“Not to brag or anything, but no one stood a chance against my emaciated, spastic resolve.”) “What I Wore to My Divorce” describes Salie’s struggle to pick the perfect outfit to wear to the courthouse to divorce her “wasband.” (“I envisioned a look that said, ‘Yo, THIS is what you’ll be missing…even though you’ve introduced your new girlfriend to our mutual friends, and she’s a decade younger than I am and is also a fit model.”) In "Ovary Achiever," she shares tips on how to ace your egg retrieval. (“Thank your fertility doctor when she announces you have ‘amazing ovaries.’ Try to be humble about it [‘Oh,these old things?’].”) And in “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me About Batman’s Nipples” she reveals the secrets behind Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! (“I study for this show like Tracy Flick on Adderall”).

With thoughtful irreverence, Salie reflects on why she tries so hard to please others, and herself, highlighting a phenomenon that many people—especially women—experience at home and in the workplace. Equal parts laugh-out loud funny and poignant, Approval Junkie is one woman’s journey to realizing that seeking approval from others is more than just getting them to like you—it's challenging yourself to achieve, and survive, more than you ever thought you could.

From the Hardcover edition.


"Readers went wild for this Type A comic's ability to write about everything—from struggling with anorexia to the travails of eyelash extensions to her mother's death—with a magic mix of vulnerability and jest."
Elle (Readers’ Prize)
“Those wise enough to pick up this collection of essays are about to find their newest best friend in Salie…. Plan on reading this once for entertainment, or better, twice for the life lessons available.” 

“Funny, touching essays on being a multifaceted woman with unique dreams, desires, and needs.” 
Kirkus Reviews

“When Salie...writes from the heart, the memoir is as pleasing as they come.”
 –Publishers Weekly

"I absolutely loved this book. And I'm not just saying that because I want Faith Salie to like me."
–Elizabeth Gilbert
“I dare you not to fall in love with Faith Salie. Her book is charmingly self-deprecating and snort-soda-through-your-nose laugh inducing! She reveals such vulnerability and insight into our flawed human condition, you'll be both dazzled and deeply moved.”
–Annabelle Gurwitch, New York Times Bestselling author of I See You Made an Effort

“I’m going to be an enabler and give Faith Salie some pure, high-grade, unadulterated approval. Because she deserves it. This book is a hilarious and emotional look at love, career, and Faith’s mom’s pelvic floor (among other things). You will approve of it as well. “
–AJ Jacobs

"If it is a comfort to you, as it is to me, to find that somebody as smart, sophisticated, funny, accomplished, graceful, witty, and (not incidentally) drop dead gorgeous as Faith Salie is, inside, a weird, sopping mess of crippling insecurities, just like you are—then keep this book close at hand. You will turn to it in times of trouble, stress, and self-doubt. Remember, if a genuine Rhodes Scholar in a size 2 dress can be this messed up, then you’re going to be just fine.”
–Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!"

“Approval Junkie by Faith Salie is a hilarious cry for help that will leave you thinking, “Oh sh*t, I think I'm an approval junkie too!” (Or maybe that was just me?) Do yourself a favor and read this book and then give it a 5-star review, because anything below 4 might send Faith over the edge.”
–Jen Mann, New York Times Bestselling author of People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges
“Faith Salie is exquisitely, sometimes painfully, honest and real -- and very, very funny. Whether you see where she's coming from or think she's bonkers, you'll be wildly entertained by this book.”
–Emily Gould, author of Friendship

“I’m not the laugh-out-loud type; I’m the stone-faced-while-everyone-else-is-howling type. Well, I laughed out loud while compulsively reading this hilarious, sometimes, heartbreaking book. Let the Tina Fey comparisons begin!”
–Jancee Dunn, author of But Enough About Me: A Jersey Girl's Unlikely Adventures Among The Absurdly Famous
"Over the top, all too true, and laugh-out-loud funny, all in one easy to approve of package."
–Seth Godin, author of Your Turn

From the Hardcover edition.


I totally saw the proposal coming, because, well, it was simply time. We’d talked about getting married, explicitly and erosively, for so long that it wasn’t worth talking about anymore. We’d been dating for five years, which is also known as a “lustrum.” But even that rococo word doesn’t romanticize that half a decade is a long time to wait, and everyone in our lives was sick of it. There was an unspoken feeling of Let’s get this over with, so we can see if it will make things better. Please buckle up, because here comes some caps lock: YES I TOTALLY KNOW THAT GETTING MARRIED IS NEVER THE WAY TO FIX A CRAPPY RELATIONSHIP BUT I ALSO KNOW I SHOULD FLOSS MY TEETH EVERY DAY BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH THANKS.
I really didn’t think it would happen this one particular afternoon. This explains why I had no makeup on and had decked myself out in an Old Navy shirt, comfy jeans, and boots that supplied no flattering heel height. The wasband had gone into the Lighthouse Museum, because his great-grandfather or someone had had something to do with the building of the village lighthouse. I was exhausted (from an­ticipation) so I stayed in the rental car, reclined my seat, and napped. He woke me up with a knock on the window and an enthusiastic grin. “You’ve got to see this view!”
If you’ve watched Braveheart, you know that Scotland doesn’t really give a shite that it’s late May or that you’re about to get proposed to, so it was wildly windy and chilly. My hair was flying everywhere. Poised on the precipice, we admired the vibrant indigo of the North Sea and the was­band’s cultural provenance.
When he told me to sit on the lone bench surrounded by wildflowers, I knew. His fist was clenched, and he began to kneel. My heart started beating faster.
I shook my head. “Oh my God . . . no. Stop.” That is what I said. Something deep inside me, beyond ego and beyond heart, knew this thing for which I’d been yearning wasn’t what was best for us.
He paused midkneel, his blue-gray eyes full of hurt. Un­characteristically, transparently, vulnerably surprised and hurt. I’d never seen that look on his face before, and I would never see it again. It lasted maybe “one Mississippi, two Mississippi,” and I couldn’t bear it.
“Go ahead,” I said. “I’m sorry, go ahead.”
He knelt down and asked me to marry him. He kept it simple. Perhaps that was a bold choice suggestive of a re­birth of our relationship, or maybe it was head-in-sandy not to acknowledge how rough our journey to this moment had been. Or, quite likely, I wasn’t much of a muse after ordering him to stop proposing.
When he asked, “Will you marry me?,” I looked at him through my shades, coolly. His question, like his first “I love you,” created such a panoply of emotions that the best course seemed to be to try to keep my face neutral. I didn’t smile or cry or gasp. I waited a few moments, my heart beat­ing out of my chest, while I tried to relish the return of that ephemeral taste of power.
The man I deeply loved and resented, in whom I’d deeply invested, was on one knee, asking me the question I’d longed to hear since our first date. It was, in theory, the ul­timate gesture of approval, but it didn’t feel that way. It was too hard-earned, and that made me feel hollow. The Scot­tish winds carried any “power” I had out to sea. I said only, “Yes,” quietly, because I wanted to. I wanted to marry him.
You don’t have to believe in karma to understand this: he and I were meant to be, well, not meant to be. We had to live through the first part to realize the last part.
I couldn’t wear his grandmother’s ring, because it was too small. Way to feel fat at your betrothal.