After conquering a mountainous achievement such as graduating from college, you’d think one would be on the highest of highs. And with a heart full of confidence and anxious hands, you’d think one would be ready to work in the real world, and be able to seize their career in its purest form. But it doesn’t work like that. Those dreams can be crushed easily by a two-line rejection email or by no response at all. Why won’t anyone hire me? you think. And then you begin second-guessing your skills, experience and ultimately, your worth.
Depression does not have a blunt personality.
Instead, she’s more the gradual kind. She slowly settles into your life like weight gain or hair growth. You don’t notice her progressive intrusion until she slaps you hard in the face. And then you have to acknowledge her. I realized that I was dealing with postgraduate depression six months after graduating. Although I was employed at the time, my job had nothing to do with my degree and it was one of the lowest entry-level positions within the company. So there I was, working a repetitive nine-to-five desk job, gaining absolutely no experience in my field. And to add to the stress of not working in my dream career, I essentially had no close friends who had moved back home like me. It felt like everything that I had worked for and all the wonderful friendships that I had made within the past four years were removed from under me. My degree no longer stood as a symbol of achievement to me, but rather a mockery.
Why not apply for another job? you’re probably asking. Well, of course I did that. But most of my energy was exerted toward my job at the time because that was my main responsibility. And as for pursuing my dream, it had to wait until after 5 p.m. on the weekdays or be scheduled for the weekend. I was literally penciling in my dreams and it made me very irritable.
Fast-forward to seven months later and I finally gathered up the courage and savings to quit my job.
It was mainly because I was tired of working there, but also because I was presented with two writing opportunities, that would’ve been a pay decrease- but at least I would be doing what I love. But within the first two weeks after my last day of work, one of the opportunities was taken away from me. I was offered a remote writing position, but the company had to reverse their offer because of their tight budget. Basically, they couldn’t afford to pay me. So there I was, essentially unemployed. The next few weeks tested my faith and mental strength.
I began to heavily search for writing and marketing positions within my hometown and outside of it. Most of the positions I was well qualified for, and with each cover letter and resume I sent off, I had a surge of confidence. Within a two-week span I sent out more than 15 applications, half of which sent a general response of "We’ll contact you if we see a match." The other half, I heard nothing from. So I sent follow-up emails to these potential employers I hadn’t heard from, and I still never got a response. Meanwhile, the other writing opportunity remained and I accepted, which made me feel extremely happy and useful.
But then two months later, life got real.
I was working on my first round of stories for the publication, but like most freelance gigs, you don’t get paid until after your story is published. I was able to continue paying my bills with my savings, but with nothing to replenish it with, my funds became very strained. At this time I felt like I was in a fight that I was just then realizing I had lost.
Then in December, my grandmother passed away from cancer. And I couldn’t pay to travel to her funeral. This felt like another blow to my stomach. I felt defeated. And I knew that my emotional wellness was slowly sinking.
My ah-ha moment was when I heard a pastor on the radio say, “You don’t have to be strong.”
And that wrecked my mind. And I started releasing my anxiety by writing about it and by taking mental breaks where I would only allow myself to focus on irrelevant subjects, i.e., watching television, exercising and hanging out with friends.
This is also around the time when I began to see the value in gratitude. I started to realize that depression and gratitude can't coexist together; they can only grow exclusively. If one is growing, the other is starving. Gratitude causes you to be more positive and not dwell on the negative. It makes you focus on what you do have instead of the lack thereof. Therefore, it has the power to help cancel out sadness you're feeling.
I’m happy to say that I am no longer overwhelmed by my postgraduate depression, but rather still coping with it. It still creeps up on me sometimes, but I’m able to use my gratitude as a weapon of choice. And by doing this I am learning that just because I am coping with depression, doesn't mean that I can't be happy at the same time. On the contrary, my happiness propels me to cope with my depression.
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One day, my coworker pulled me aside for a private conversation. What she said caught me completely off guard. Things began so innocently — she started out by asking a few questions about my performance review and, without giving details, I told her that everything went well. After a little more probing, the bomb was dropped. A few coworkers, including herself, believed that I had received a positive performance review because I was the manager’s favorite. *Sigh*
They all believed their negative reviews were created as part of our manager’s master plan to promote me as the next manager. By having the better review, it would position me as the most qualified candidate for the promotion. This was the first I'd ever heard of any such plan, and I didn't believe it to be a legitimate story.
You see, our manager had put in a resignation with a lengthy notice time and a promise to help find her replacement. I was only six months into the position and knew my chances were slim in taking her position. So this “plan" seemed beyond ridiculous.
The worst part about it is that I now felt this dark cloud hanging over me knowing the office was talking behind my back.
I couldn't help but think my coworkers hated me, and that’s when I developed a serious case of impostor syndrome. Was I really a value to the company or a corporate pawn? How did I end up being the center of office gossip? I was torn up about the situation. I shut down and no longer communicated with my coworkers, which is teamwork suicide in the office.
So how did I get over it?
I had to look at my track record and realize I was the bomb.com when it came to hitting my goals. I performed well in other areas of work. And the performance review, aka the cause of the problem, proved exactly what I was worth. If I was the favorite, then guess what? I earned it. I had gotten there with hard work and dedication. That's something that couldn't be argued.
How did I address things with my coworkers?
I began communicating with my team individually and discussed the rumor with each one of them. I listened to their concerns and found they were just upset with their critiques. I didn't have to say much but just offer my support and ask for us to once again be a team in order to work together to crush our goals. I had to take the bad image of the “favorite” and turn it into that of a friendly and helpful coworker.
But let’s not forget! My review was none of their business. To even come up with such a theory and to label me as the favorite was just a reason to take the blame away from themselves for under-performing. They could have used a serious sip of “stay-in-your-lane” tea and, in reality, I could have used a sip too. By focusing on myself, I wouldn't have let office chitter -chatter get under my skin. At the end of the day, don't let how others feel about themselves dictate how you should feel about yourself in the workplace or in everyday life.
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We've all heard the saying, “The early bird gets the worm.” But honestly, it's a phrase we all know for a reason. It's true. There are numerous advantages to getting up early and getting a head start on your day. Here are just a few of benefits to being an early riser — it's worth adjusting your schedule!
Sleep easier at night
Getting up early starts with going to bed early. To be up at 5 or 6 a.m., if you need eight hours of sleep, you need to be in bed with the lights out and the alarm set by 9 or 10 p.m.
Plan effectively and achieve more
Even from day one, you'll be surprised how much more you achieve. It's almost like there is an extra hour added to your 24-hour day! The mornings are often quieter, allowing you to squeeze in time to work on your projects distraction-free.
Change your outlook on life
It's been scientifically proven that early risers are typically more optimistic and conscientious. Such people are able to deal with problems they face more promptly and efficiently.
Finish what you've been putting off
List out the tasks you've been putting off and schedule them to be completed first thing in the morning. Even a single task each day will lighten your workload considerably.
You don’t have to spend much time doing so – even a 15- to 20-minute workout will do wonders in getting your circulation going and stimulating your brain. This will keep you feeling good all day.
Enjoy the sanctity of silence
Mornings are typically a peaceful time, so enjoy it. Read a book, spend some time outdoors listening to the morning sounds, etc. Or just sit with yourself and enjoy the quiet. It's precious in our bustling world.
Spend some time listening
Even though you may have a lot of initial motivation, monotony might set in once you've been getting up early for a while. To prevent this, spend some time catching up on your favorite podcasts or listening to inspirational talks by prominent personalities in the early morning.
This is the perfect chance to meditate and reflect. Do some deep breathing with just the company of the early morning sounds (or lack thereof) and your innermost thoughts. If you aren't sure where to start, identify a single thing that are grateful for in your life each day when you get up. It will make the days more meaningful.
Spend time with your family
The early morning is an ideal time for connecting with your partner or other family members. The extra time spent together will help to nurture your relationships.
Eat a proper breakfast
A proper breakfast can be somewhat of a luxury nowadays. However, with the extra time you've got, you can cook a healthy breakfast. It's important to fuel your mind and body with nutrition.
Keep a diary
A diary to record your thoughts and dreams each morning helps to put things in perspective. You'll be surprised at some of the habits or desires you don't even realize about yourself once you start penning down your thoughts.
What do you love about mornings? Let us know in the comments below!
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This week consisted of frantic last-minute scrambling to meet deadlines, several 3 a.m.-ers and frenzied attempts to somehow be creative in the midst of it all. It's called life, but I would be lying if I didn't admit that some of this chaos was self-imposed...okay, most of it.
Seriously Eb, how many of these deadlines have you known about for weeks? Why did you binge watch that 'Bring It!' marathon knowing what you had to get done? For real? You really just lost a half-hour of your life scrolling through Twitter? The real question is — What is this masochistic obsession I have with flirting with disaster?
The self-sabotage is real in these streets. For me, it most often looks like procrastination, but it can show up differently for different people. Avoidance, extreme defensiveness, binging out on unhealthy vices or all-together neglecting responsibility are just a few of the ways we can hinder our own success. According to a study published in Psychology Today, when it comes to chronic self-sabotage, the culprit can typically be traced to feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness. If this is true, how does one go about stopping this harmful cycle of self-sabotage?
Here are a few mechanisms that might prove helpful to jolt yourself out of self-imposed destruction and on the path to productivity.
Internal pep talk
There's nothing wrong with a little internal coaching when you feel yourself spiraling downward.
Lean on someone you can trust — that you know has your best interest at heart — for a good ol' fashioned read to call you on your junk.
Call me cheesy, but when feeling especially unproductive, there's nothing like a good Ted Talk or motivational mash-up to whip me into shape. This one right here gives me perpetual life!
Recall your wins
My procrastination really kicks into high gear when I'm faced with new challenges that take me outside of my comfort zone. Trying new things can be scary. Sometimes it's helpful to make a mental list of the many times in the past you've successfully conquered new frontiers.
Seriously, you have direct access to the Divine. Use it!
You've got work to do and missions to accomplish! The world needs you and your gifts. Don't allow yourself to be your own worst enemy. Use every tool at your disposal to get out of your own way and SLAY! You got this.
The transition into adulthood isn’t an easy one. Navigating relationships, managing workplace politics, hitting those milestones on schedule— don’t be fooled, no one knows what they’re doing. There will be all kinds of fumbles, blunders and awkward missteps along the way. If you’re constantly wondering to yourself, “Am I doing this right?” Welcome. This is just the place for you.
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Working in Corporate America is difficult as a person of color, but it's made even more challenging by the fact that black death being constantly in the news and on our social media timelines. Colleagues either ignore this fact, take on the role of the sympathizer (much to the annoyance of many), or are blatantly insensitive to our plight. Still, you gotta get that paper. So how do you manage coping with working in what can feel like a hostile environment? Try these tips:
Intentionally inject black joy into your day
Whether it's lunch with your girlfriends or listening to your favorite artist, take time every single day at work to get your life with our beauty and brilliance. This will be a reminder that although we're dying, we're also living and slaying this life. It's one of the most beautiful methods for coping.
A lot of folks feel like they have to hold it all in until they clock out, but if you feel yourself reaching your limit, call somebody. Talking it out will help relieve some of the pressure you feel. If you have trusted allies on the job, book a conference room for a bit and let it out with them. Just don't hold it in.
Don't check the news at work
You might have an inclination to check your phone, read the news with your morning coffee and scroll down your Facebook timeline, but maybe you should limit your contact with what's happening outside of your job while you're there if it proves to be too much. You can check back in when you feel like you're in a safe space.
Advocate for cultural competency courses through your HR department
It's not your job to educate everyone about the black experience, but it is your place of employment's duty to create safe spaces for everyone from different backgrounds and with different life experiences. Although a lot of corporate gigs tout the term "diversity" as a shroud for their glib attitude toward actually creating diverse and caring workplaces, you can advocate for integrating cultural competency courses into orientation and especially management trainings.
Walk away from unpleasant conversations
Corporate America can be an incubator for uncomfortable (verging on inappropriate) conversations, especially around things such as race and class. The "curiosity" of some of your colleagues can cause them to start conversations you don't want to have with them. It's okay to walk away. Of course, don't just walk off mid-sentence, but saying "I'd rather not discuss this at work, if you'll excuse me" is totally appropriate. Coping with being corporate while black is difficult enough without having to navigate someone else's voyeurism into black pain. You don't have to do it.
How do you cope with these issues in the workplace? Let us know in the comments below!
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Are you feeling unproductive and wondering why you haven't hit most of the goals you've set for yourself? You're not a bad person, but you might have some habits that are inhibiting your progress toward those goals. Let's talk about some of the things that can keep us from being our most productive selves.
Whether it's Netflix, ESPN or video games, we all have our things that we like to binge-watch or binge-play or binge-do. When binging becomes habitual, it can have a seriously negative affect on your productivity. Yes, they finally put A Different World on Netflix, but did you need to watch every season this week?! Pull back on how much you're engaging in your guilty entertainment pleasures if you feel as though you're getting so unproductive that you're not accomplishing your goals. Set a time limit on how much you'll allow yourself to binge-whatever and stick to it. Ask one of your friends to be your accountability buddy, if need be.
Since when has complaining ever washed a dish or paid a bill? It's time to keep it real, and if you find yourself falling into this pit of negativity, then you might want to check yourself. If you're asking yourself, "Why me?" it might be time to change that question to "Why not me?" Start thinking of challenges as opportunities.
So, did you actually think you were going to write a 2,000-word essay for your term paper or 10-page report for your job in the middle of the night before it's due? Even if you pull that off, it won't be your best work, and this behavior is not sustainable. Don't listen to those articles that tell you being late means you're more successful. Procrastination is not a sign of success, it shows a lack of investment and care. Start mapping your big projects backwards and completing the smaller aspects of them a little bit at a time. Before you know it, you'll be done... early.
You're always thinking about the big picture and the end goal, but never the journey to get there, which is why you just can't seem to get there. This facet of being unproductive is easily solved. Set mini-goals. The big picture is beautiful and grand, but there are so many more pictures before we reach that one. Focus on your entire photo album and not just the end goal. Celebrate each mini-goal you reach, and always note how it's helping you reach your big goal. This will keep you on track and engaged with whatever you're trying to accomplish.
Ultimately, if you're unproductive, it's on you. There are always factors (and sometimes people) that present challenges on the way to our destination, but blaming others just makes you sound bitter and look negative. No one wants to work with or support someone like that. Break this habit by asking yourself: How could I have reacted differently to my challenges in order to achieve a different result? Picture different scenarios in your head. Make this your habit moving forward, and you'll be able to transform this behavior into something positive.
I'm gonna be real with you: People don't care why you broke your promise to complete a certain task or produce a certain product or deliver something that you assured them you could. They will just remember that you didn't do it. Your excuses make you seem unreliable and will ruin your reputation. Instead of making excuses, be accountable for the mistakes you make and talk about how you can improve for the next time, if given the opportunity.
Not asking for help
This is a cardinal sin in the world of productivity. Most people are willing to help when you're being challenged in your personal or professional life, if you just ask. No one can know what you need unless you step up and voice that you need help. You can break this habit with an accountability partner. We all have that friend who knows when we're stressed or lying about needing anything. Ask them to call you out when you try to avoid asking for help, and sit with them to make a list of potential people to help you with specific tasks or elements of your life.
Come on, y'all. This is plain ol' disrespectful and will destroy you in the professional world. Sometimes it's okay to be late, but if you just straight up ignore the deadline and are silent about it? Nah, homie. People will talk about how you can't be trusted to deliver on time and tell their friends and colleagues not to work with you. If you're bad with deadlines, put reminders in your phone. This is akin to those 11 alarms you set every morning to make sure you get to work on time. If you need 11 reminders to make sure your work gets completed on time, do that.
Overall lack of communication
For many folks, silence means everything is cool on your end. It means that project is going well, that term paper is going to be the best thing your professor has ever read, you're going to break records at your next sports competition, and you're all set. And then, it doesn't happen. Why? Because you were going through A, B and C, and you didn't tell anyone. Sometimes, challenges can be taken off your hands so you can increase your productivity around important deliverables. You have to let folks know in a reasonable amount of time if a project isn't going well or if you can't deliver on what you said you could — especially if someone you're working with is inhibiting the progress. That's not about blaming, it's about calling in some intermediaries to remedy the situation.
As I said earlier, stop listening to these articles that say if your house is a mess, it means you're smarter. WHAT? If your house is a mess, it just means you're messy. That's it. That's all it means. Maybe your plumbing isn't fixed yet because your work desk is so messy that you can't find the card of that plumber who said he could fix it for the low. I'll admit to my personal spaces being a mess sometimes, but I always find that when I straighten things up, I get much more done. Set aside one day every week (for at least two hours) when you'll straighten up your work and personal spaces. You'll be dusting away your unproductive self at the same time.
Horrendous sleep schedule
I'm just going to leave this here:
If this is you and you're wondering why you're unproductive, you need to get your sleep schedule together, boo. It's neither cute nor sustainable to be staying up until all hours of the night thinking you're going to take a cat nap and take the world by storm. You are mistaken. A lot of times, if you just relax your mind, you can accomplish falling asleep at a reasonable hour. If you need to, Youtube some meditation music to help soothe your mind. This is a moment to self-parent: Give yourself a bedtime and stick to it. Put your phone on silent (don't silence the alarm, though), and don't fall asleep to TV or Netflix (the bright light will stimulate your brain and inhibit your falling asleep).
How do you stay productive? Let us know in the comments below!
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After many cover letters revisions and unanswered emails you’ve finally landed your first job after college. Congrats — it’s a tough job market out there. But as you lay out your best clothes for your first day at work and you start to get the jitters, relax, that’s totally normal and completely understandable. There’s really no good way to prepare for full-time employment, and while your parents might have made it look easy, it’s actually not. You’ll probably falter a little, but in the end we know you’ll land on your feet. To help prepare you for this journey, we thought we’d let you in on 10 little secrets that no one tells you about your first job.
YOU WON’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING
No, for real, almost nothing. You may come out of college thinking you know everything, and you’re probably really smart, but being thrust into a full-time role is another story. It might be a steep learning curve, but don’t worry, no one expects you to be an expert on the first day. Employers hire for potential, and will be happy to help you grow. Just don’t be afraid to ask questions!
YOU’LL PROBABLY HAVE TO DO MENIAL TASKS
It’s a common stereotype that millennials are lazy and don’t want to do work that’s beneath them. But the reality is, most entry-level jobs require some sort of unglamorous task. So don’t be too shocked if someone asks you to make copies or get water. Take on every assignment with vigor, and you’ll be rewarded for your positive attitude.
YOU’LL BE TOTALLY EXHAUSTED BY THE END OF YOUR FIRST DAY
You really won’t know exhaustion until about week two of your first job. You might suddenly look up and realize your room is a tornado, you haven’t worked out in forever, and your hair hasn’t been washed in days. Fear not, this is totally normal. Expending constant, consistent energy across a whole day is a new thing for your body. Just make sure you’re getting enough sleep so you’ll be able to stay on top of your new, busy schedule.
YOUR HOURS PROBABLY WON’T BE 9 TO 5
Since your boss can basically reach you at anytime of the day regardless of where you’re physically located, you’ll probably be clocking in more than 40 hours per week. Accept it, don’t fight it, but be sure to check if you’re eligible for overtime pay.
YOU WON’T HAVE YOUR OWN OFFICE
TV shows and movies often portray young people having big corner offices, lots of snacks, and a ton of flexibility in their schedules. But the reality is you’ll be lucky if you have your own desk. The upside? Sharing is caring and you’ll probably make a bunch of new friends.
YOU’LL SUDDENLY NEED FOUR CUPS OF COFFEE A DAY
Never really thought about a coffee break before? Well, get ready to meet your new best friend: caffeine.
YOU’LL HAVE DIFFICULTY FINDING TIME FOR YOURSELF
Everything from working out to going to the dentist will seem impossible. But in order to be a good employee it’s important to make time to take care of yourself. If you’re sick, you can’t work anyway.
YOU WILL NEVER APPRECIATE WEEKENDS MORE
If you think you liked weekends before, get ready to love them even more. Friday afternoon is a magical time where you’ll feel unprecedented amounts of happiness. And yes, Sunday nights will still be the most terrible thing ever.
YOU MIGHT FEEL CONFUSED ABOUT IF THIS IS THE RIGHT JOB FOR YOU
This is totally normal. You might have spent weeks, maybe even months convincing yourself during the interview process that this is the career for you. Then you get there, and realize that it doesn’t suit you. Don’t panic. Plenty of people switch jobs — multiple times — in their 20s. Just make sure you’re learning, asking questions, and figuring out what will truly make you happy.
NOTHING FEELS AS GOOD AS YOUR FIRST PAYCHECK
No really. As tough as the first months might be, nothing really beats being financially independent.
This post was originally published on Teen Vogue.
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On a Friday evening in Downtown, Chicago, I waited for the Red Line to arrive at the Jackson stop. Although the station was murky and clammy, I had the comfort of 2 Chainz to lull my ears. The bass kicked, the punch lines were witty, and the hook was melodic: That's a formula for hip-hop success. Here’s the caveat — the song seemed completely one-dimensional. His words danced over 808 drums and high-hats, rhythmically narrating his roller-coaster spending habits. I was a broke college kid, so you'd think I'd find this unpalatable. I didn't. Rather, I shamelessly bobbed my head back and forth with glee (imagining that I was him) — until I heard a statement that actually made me think. Surprisingly, the last line of the song contained a modicum of wisdom. 2 Chainz proudly announced that, “I’d rather spend money baby, I don’t spend time.” I know what you might be thinking. How could you derive anything remotely profound from that?
At this point (at 19 years old), I hadn’t reflected on how I invested my time, nor did I consider it an important matter to digest. I thought my hours were best spent earning a paycheck. But over the next few years, especially as a budding graphic artist, 2 Chainz' remarks have increasingly resonated with me.
Earlier on, I devoted too much time on projects that bore little fruit (e.g., I’d work 60 hours for a $180 design). I’d spend weeks crafting illustrious pieces of art. Clients were happy and that gave me satisfaction. Even when I started requesting more compensation, I was still not confident in my abilities (although others were), and I still charged next-to-nothing. Naturally, it didn’t take long before I was exhausted and dissatisfied. I felt used because I was being used. Albeit, I must give (one of my mentors) Mrs. Pinaglia credit for correcting me on this: I felt used because I allowed myself to be used. It became clear to me that people can be avaricious if you let them.
So, to my fellow creators and artists, please be wary of the cost-conscious tycoon: He or she will actively attempt to devalue your service. They’ll claim that they’ve received a competitive price from somewhere else (which might be true). They’ll convince you that you’re charging too much and suggest a price that they think is reasonable. This does not mean that context is not important when charging a client. Some jobs are worth the upfront loss because less tangible things are gained, such as relationships, future opportunities, and plain ole’ personal fulfillment. But avoid those pitfalls when you can and stand your ground. It will save you lots of money on Advil. Had I stuck to my price points, the amount of hours I dedicated to projects would have been worthwhile. Most freelance designers charge between $35 and $75 per hour if they’re good — and there are those who opt for flat fees. Either way, when I divided my price by the hours I spent on certain projects, I made less than my state’s minimum wage.
It took some trial-and-error, but I discovered that (1) designers must recognize their value and (2) price their services fairly, out of respect for themselves and their industry. Too often, creative people will work endlessly, finish a project feeling proud about the result, and receive little compensation aside from praise and accomplishment. Avoid my foolish mistake and value your time! You are worth what you think you are (plus more). Don't be threatened by the illusion of services like Fiverr and 99Designs. You don't have to charge pennies because another person does. If someone wants a relevant and novel solution, they’ll find someone like you to help. $3 burgers might taste great when someone is starving or needs something that’s convenient, but people will still pay for a $25 gourmet, angus-beef patty on a homemade, brioche bun when they want quality.
When a situation arises that causes you to question how much you should charge, remember 2 Chainz’s statement. Time is precious and everyone does not deserve it (unless they can afford it). Samuel Smiles said, “Lost wealth may be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone forever.” Get paid for your talent, and get paid well.
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The day I walked out of my corporate gig, I wasn't thinking about the money I'd be losing. I was way past that. I wasn't thinking about the work friendships that might fade, and I wasn't even thinking about how the team that chronically failed to appreciate my hard work would get a rude awakening soon. My eyes, focus and stride were all forward. I was happy.
My type-A, over-calculating-every-risk self was taking a leap, a huge risk, and in some people's eyes, making a mistake. They couldn't see what I was seeing. I was reaching out and touching my purpose. I was racing full speed toward my dreams. Although Shonda Rhimes profoundly said in her Dartmouth commencement speech, "Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer," all I could think was it was the dream that had been a catalyst to my action. It was the passion for the dream that turned me into a doer. The passion for dream said I didn't have to settle for this corporate gig. The dream told me that if I became a doer as well, it might just come true.
It's not as though I wasn't already a doer — I was just a doer for someone else's dream full-time and a doer for my dream part-time. I would work 40+ hours in tech, making good money (but having no passion for what I was doing), and as soon as I clocked out, I would work on writing, recording, business strategy, branding, etc. I managed to publish a book and release an album while working this full-time job, and though the money made it easier to produce the physical product, it didn't allow me the time to really polish the product and strategize around the overall brand and plan for my business. Opportunities were missed. I was a doer, I just wasn't doing enough for me.
So, I quit.
Okay, I didn't just wake up one day and say, "Forget this." What I actually thought was, "How do I get out of this? How do I reach my next level?" Education was my way out, forward and up. I applied to my dream school and got rejected. Talk about a wrench in the plan! One part of Shonda's speech where we agree is when she daid, "You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open..." So, I worked hard for a year, applied for more creative jobs at the corporate gig to no avail, and then reapplied to my dream school.
I was accepted.
The welcome packet listed the cost of tuition as a few thousand dollars more per year than I was making at my "well paying" corporate gig, but I didn't flinch. I was being a dreamer and a doer, following my passion and purpose over the pursuit of money, and that tuition would be paid come fall. Through hard work, family assistance, crowdfunding, loans and a corporate giving scholarship, I was able to pay my tuition for the first year.
Yes, it took all of that, and then the corporate checks stopped. I was on an extremely limited budget, living in a very small space across the country from all of my friends and family. Comfort was the sacrifice I was making to become a full-time doer in pursuit of my dream. That daily cup of Starbucks was gone, popping my head into my mom's room to bug her was gone, weekend brunch on the lake with friends was gone, and I felt as though I was standing on the edge of a cliff. I was close to broke and in a strange place, but the air had never felt so clean.
Returning home for summer, the frequent comments were that I looked younger and happier, and I was. The security and comfort of a corporate job had allowed me to attach myself to titles I had grown up thinking I should aspire to attain. Relinquishing that to think bigger allowed me to open up to goals, aspirations, lessons and even people I'd never considered a part of my life journey.
I'm not going to tell you that I never had any doubt, any fear, or that I was never lonely.
That would be a lie. I will tell you that the bigger truth and the more important one to me is that I have no regrets about my decision. I walked out of that job, and I haven't looked back. When you find your purpose and make the decision that it's worth pursuing, that passion is like the most beautiful sunrise. You can't take your eyes off of it. You're trying to take a million photos of it, but its colors keep getting brighter, clearer and more magnificent. Finally, you give up and just enjoy the experience because you know that tomorrow, if you keep moving forward, the sun will rise again.
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Picture this: You're at your desk. Your manager stops by asking to speak with you. You tense up. You get to their office and your manager informs you that you're being awarded with Performer of the Year, and a dinner will be held in your honor. You hesitantly accept and express gratitude, but continue wondering if it's all some joke. You're out to lunch and get an email from HR saying that they need to schedule an immediate appointment with you. You tense up. They're just finishing the paperwork for your raise because your salary will increase significantly per your promotion. You thought you were getting the axe. You are more than competent, yet somehow you struggle to internalize your greatness at work.
If you identify with any of these scenarios, you aren't alone. Impostor syndrome is a widespread issue for many women in the workplace — but you can beat it. Here are a few tips for getting over the hump.
If your job has a Women's ERG, join it
Employee Resource Groups can be incredibly helpful for finding like-minded individuals and receiving valuable feedback. If your job has an ERG specifically for women, you should join it! This will provide opportunities to network outside of your department and to see that you're on par with the other women in your company. It should also be a safe space to discuss issues such as impostor syndrome and how other women have dealt with and overcome it.
Keep a list of achievements from before this job
Sometimes, the impostor energy isn't even coming from you. It's energy being imposed upon you by your surroundings. You've gotta look back and see how everything that you've done leading up to this point in your life has prepared you for accomplishing greater things and having high level accolades bestowed upon you. Did you get your Bachelor's in 3 years, graduate Summa Cum Laude and then finish your master's while working your first job in your industry (in which you were promoted three times in four years)? Write that stuff down. You've always been a boss, you've always achieved great things, now is not the time to doubt yourself.
Get your Wonder Woman pose on every day
Lots of articles have come out around how posing like Wonder Woman for a few minutes can actually help you improve your career. This is certainly about improved performance, but it's also very much about attitude. The Wonder Woman pose is about shifting the trajectory of your perceived worth upward. It's about seeing yourself as you are (great) and accepting everything wonderful that comes with the territory you're in. You are not an impostor. Your abilities are real. Your achievements are authentic. You deserve nice things.
Keep your endorphins poppin'
Laugh while eating chocolate and doing jumping jacks. Okay, you really don't need to do all of that at the same time, but there are natural ways to make sure that your endorphin levels stay up. Endorphins are a mood booster, and the more positive you feel, the more you can combat this feeling that you don't belong. When you're moving to greater things in your job, sometimes that can feel stressful and you might question how and why you got there. But just remember, you worked hard, but you didn't promote yourself. Someone else saw how hard you were working, they took note and they advocated on your behalf. Other people think you're worth it. You should, too.
How do you combat impostor syndrome? Let us know in the comments below!
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Before I found my niche as a writer, I had a regular 9-5 job. It was the kind where you made a decent amount of money for spending a good chunk of your day in an office, crunching numbers, entering data and doing projects for a company.
Although it wasn’t my passion, it paid the bills and it wasn’t a job I woke up dreading going to. I got to dress business casual, do some fun projects and work with a team every day.
Although the job itself didn’t suck, there were a few people that I worked alongside everyday that made me have to take a deep breath and brace myself for their overbearing (and sometimes draining) personalities before I walked in the door.
Here is just a sampling of the different kinds of personalities I encountered that made me want to skip office parties and make all lunches personal:
This co worker was the one who shared way too many personal details of her life. One second we would be talking data and the next she would turn the conversation to the fact that she and her boyfriend haven’t had sex in months and she think’s it’s because he might be hooking up with his ex-girlfriend. Whoa.
The rude-as-hell coworker
He's the one who's mean for no reason. I peeped my head into his office to ask to borrow his stapler and it’s either a flat out “No,” or he acts like I just asked him to loan me a million dollars. He always ended our convos with some snarky remark and handled small conflicts as though they were wars. His personal life was miserable, so he made his work life miserable too. He would make fun of people for doing something wrong and tried to boss everyone around as though he was the man in charge. HR has been called on him several times, and each time he would be nice for a week before going back to his rude ways.
The control freak
Working with her was the opposite of team work. She always felt the need to tweak something I contributed in fear it wasn’t right. The finishing touches always had to be hers, and she was better at giving orders than taking them. Though we could count on her to do her part, her part was the only part she thought was important. She never took the input or saw the perspective of the rest us. She was a control freak who thought the only right way was her way.
Really, we wondered why this person worked here and why he even still had a job. He contributed literally nothing to team projects and seemed to have no actual impact or influence on the job. His breaks seemed to be longer than everyone else’s and he seemed to get more sick days too. Maybe the Boss kept him around because the business was still running even when he was gone, but we all wondered what the point in keeping him on the payroll was.
She was the one who always knew everyone’s personal business (mainly the over-sharer’s) and wanted that to be the topic of discussion during meetings and lunch. Her sentences always started out with “Did you hear about …” or “I heard that she/is…” Although slightly entertaining, talking too much with her led to office drama and politics and turned especially bad when the boss had to send memos or hold meetings to tell the group to re-focus and to stay out of each other’s personal business. She was also a bit dramatic, as every time someone approached her about her gossiping or her falling short on a project, she always had some dramatic excuse and complained about being singled out.
He hated working there and we all knew it. How? Because he told us! Every day he made a point to mention someone or something he hated about the job and how he couldn’t wait to leave — even though he’d been working there for about ten years at this point. We would all ask why he was still there if he hated the job so much, and his answers varied between “Because you all need me” (we didn’t), and “I won’t make as much money anywhere else.” We felt it was just because he liked to nag, but he secretly loved this place and everyone in it.
The competitive one
She turned things that weren’t even a competition into a competition. She was the first to reply (all) to emails, she was the first one to present during meetings, the first to sign up to bring her (nasty) potato salad to the potluck, and the first to get there each and every morning. She felt the need to prove herself in situations when she didn’t need to prove herself. In addition to her need for validation, she also was very stingy when it came to helping others. I’d ask for help finding a file or directions on how to do something and she was apprehensive in giving me assistance. She’d rather do it herself — not because she was a perfectionist, but because she wanted credit for the task.
How many of these coworkers do you currently have? Let me know what kind of characters fill your office in the comments below. I'm sure we all have quite a few in common to bond over!
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As women, we are constantly being asked to apologize. We are asked to make ourselves smaller, less significant, less plain, more beautiful, more subservient, more acceptable, less vocal, more agreeable, less this and more that. If you're reading this, remember that you don't have to apologize. There are movements out there solely dedicated to empowering women because some institutional, educational and systemic entities exist solely dedicated to disempowering women. Here are the things you should never apologize for:
Standing up for yourself
What we've seen in the media lately is women standing up for themselves against police brutality, and this isn't the only thing that you don't have to apologize for standing up for. Advocating for your right to be heard, seen, and treated fairly extends to everyday life — at work, school, or any other time or place where the situation calls for it.
Calling out the 'isms'
Vocally combating racism, sexism, classism, ageism and any of the other 'isms,' is often looked at with disdain. As much as the world will try to police our bodies, they will certainly attempt to police our words. Words have power, and as Fredrick Douglass said, "power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will." Don't apologize for speaking up!
Showing up for your sister
Sisterhood is so important every single day. It's easy to let pettiness diminish our alliances with each other, and true, authentic, consistent sisterhood is work that's well worth it. We have to show up for each other, celebrating each other's brilliance and triumph. And we must do so without pause or apology.
Calling out your sister
There's two sides to the coin of sisterhood, but they both equate to support. If one of my musician sisters has an off-key performance, does it really help her to tell her that it was lit? Honesty can be challenging, but if it comes from a place of love and concern, we shouldn't be regretful for offering feedback. Apologizing for bringing attention to mistakes, bad habits and destructive behavior is counterproductive. We have to stop apologizing for supporting our sisters in this way. Granted, everyone isn't ready to hear that
Several reports have shown that black women are now the most educated group in the US. We don't make the most, we don't have the most opportunity, yet somehow we've persevered toward higher education and scholastic achievement. That's nothing to scoff at or apologize for. I read an article where the basic premise was that "marrying down" — meaning marrying someone without an equal level of education — could "spell financial ruin, especially for black women." Education is never something to apologize for because it is supposed to create access for the person receiving it and anyone connected to them. Our being educated as a group will be a benefit to those we marry, regardless of their educational standing.
How you look
This one is difficult. We are constantly bombarded with images and narratives that say we should look a certain way, or else we're wrong. Remember that although there is always room for improvement, loving the skin you're in is an act of bravery and resistance against the forces who would tell you that you aren't beautiful as you are.
It's not just about spa days, manicures, pedicures and the like. It's about not always being on edge, releasing tension, relieving stress and enjoying one's self. Self-care is taking a moment to breathe in a hostile work environment. It's having brunch with your girls to remember that you have allies in this life. It's a solo trip to the beach three hours away or a good book on the couch with some popcorn and wine (because you lightweight have been wanting to jock Olivia Pope's style). Self-care is a necessity, so no need to apologize for tapping in.
If you can't do something, you can't do it. If you don't want to do something, you don't want to do it. The answer is no. People will ask why, try to compel you to change your mind, perhaps even become angry with you for having the audacity to answer a question that had two options (yes and no) with the latter option. 'Yes' and 'no' are your right. Exercising that right warrants no apology.
For those of us who have read Shonda Rhimes' Year of Yes, we recognize the power of saying this word with vigor, in abundance and without fear. 'Yes' can be transformative when used thoughtfully. It can be adventurous when used often. It can also be stifling when used sparingly. There are a lot of moments when we're inclined to say yes but allow something to stop us. It's the girlfriend who is giving you the side-eye when that guy is hollering at you and asks for your number. You want to say yes, but she's shaking her head. It's when you've said yes to going natural, and your grandma keeps asking when you're "going to do something with your hair." We not only have to say yes, we have to embrace our yes.
Walking away from unhealthy situations
This is a form of self-care. Sometimes friendships evolve or start to fade or relationships become volatile while we aren't paying attention. Many times, a job turns out to be causing us more harm than help, and more stress than purpose. It's as simple as the invitation to drinks when you said you were going to focus on goals over socializing. Choosing to walk away can be a practice in discipline, a huge life-altering decision or both. The point is that you have the right (and the duty to yourself) to make that move.
Embracing your achievements
You will be called braggadocios. You might even be shushed, but never push off your shine! This isn't a call to arrogance, but often we shy away from the light shining on us, not out of humility but out of fear. An achievement is something that you worked hard for, lost sleep for, maybe even lost friends on the way toward. You better take your bow!
People are quick to say, "Girl, you've changed," in a very negative and judgmental tone. If I were the same at 28 as I was at 18, it would be a problem. The truth is that there's comfort in familiarity, and your ever-evolving self presents something new and unfamiliar. Some will embrace your changes and your growth, while others won't be able to handle it. Either way, keep it pushing. As Octavia Butler says, "All that you touch, you Change. All that you Change, Changes you. The only lasting truth is Change. God is Change."
Choosing a different path
All of your friends are getting married, having kids, buying homes, and you just picked up and moved across the country to pursue your lifelong dream of [insert dream here]. You're single, your finances fluctuate, and you're in unfamiliar territory, but you're happy. The world will tell you to settle down. The translation, in your mind, will be that it is telling you to settle. It's not your job to fit into the mold(s) that society has set out for you, and it's not your obligation to apologize for choosing to set your own course. After all, what happens to a dream deferred?
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