Courtesy of Shyleshia “Shy” Daire

21 Women Share How They Made It Through 2021

"I need to remember that my life is worth living at the absolute highest level."

Workin' Girl

2021 taught us so much. In 2022, we are applying all that knowledge. More than anything we want to learn how to make ourselves available to both the beauty and pain this new year brings. New year, new me is always the mantra applied to this time of year. But how can we effectiely move forward with what could be without reflecting on what's been? As we look ahead to the next calendar year, we wanted to hear from some women about how their resilience manifested in 2021 and what they are speaking life in 2022.

Here's what they shared.

Rachel Owens

Courtesy of Rachel Owens

How She Made It Through 2021:

"In my opinion, 2021 should be renamed '2020: The Aftermath.' Balancing dealing with the loss of my father, the recovery of my toddler’s two open-heart surgeries as a heart patient myself, building a multi-six-figure business after losing my job, and living the Active-Duty Military Spouse life has challenged every non-emotional bone I thought I had in my body. It has been the year of BIG FEELINGS and challenges. The year of 'oh you thought you were strong?'

"The only way I made it through was GOD, a whole lot of prayer and crying out, some good throwback gospel that will make you fall on your knees, self-care routines, travel, wine, and sisterhood chats. Sometimes you just can’t do it by yourself!"

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"For 2022, I’m manifesting a continued beautiful and healthy union, securing generational wealth, good health, a life filled with peace and joy, meaningful relationships, seeing more of the world, Black girls winning being the standard and not the exception, luxury being the norm, growth, philanthropy, turning heads and shaking the room!"

Shyleshia “Shy” Daire

Courtesy of Shyleshia “Shy” Daire

How She Made It Through 2021:

"If 'they see my glory, but they don’t know my story' was a person, it would be a perfect summation of my 2021. Wearing the hat of a deployed spouse, mother, business owner, graduate student, model, and advocate of women empowerment pushed me to my limit. Getting through 2021 was possible because I stopped waiting for things to happen and started making things happen. I chose to take up the space in life I earned by making my own seat at every table, allowing my grind to fuel me and not move me. Walking in every room knowing that what’s mine, is mine. Maya Angelou said it best, 'I am the dream and the hope of the slave.'

"The moment I became 'woke' and stopped playing with my own potential, I shifted into my highest vibration. Deliberate of keeping my thoughts and intentions towards myself good, and my motives pure, the baggage became lighter. In 2021, I became teachable and willing to transform, I shifted out of stagnation and the willingness to conform to what society thought I should be, into me. I learned to simply BE, and I BECAME."

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"In 2022, I am manifesting new and genuine connections. I am intentionally manifesting self, spiritual, and financial growth for myself. I am establishing new ways to empower women and become the best version of myself in the process. I am walking into situations designed to serve me and believing nothing happened by chance. I will be gracious to myself; I maintain an attitude of gratitude. I care for myself, and as a result, I exude positive energy. I am my ancestors' wildest dreams!"

Imani Nicholson

Courtesy of Imani Nicholson

How She Made It Through 2021:

"I made it through 2021 by really honing in on my creative process! I was fortunate enough to work from home so I capitalized on that. I brainstormed, created, brainstormed, and created some more! The removal of my commute to work really freed up time for me to work on my passions! I was also able to connect with other women who love beauty on Clubhouse and that opened so many doors and beautiful friendships for me! Knowing I had that support system really helped with my professional and personal growth!"

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"For 2022, I am manifesting bigger brand collaborations and pushing the envelope on the quality of content I create so that I connect more with my growing community of beauty and fashion lovers!"

Tomi Obebe 

Courtesy of Tomi Obebe

How She Made It Through 2021:

"[2020] was difficult for a lot of people, myself included. As a self-employed business owner with an autoimmune disease, I struggled with isolation. 2021 was dedicated to how I could revive my relationships and intentional check-ins with my closest friends and family whenever I could. I also made a point to travel and experience a few new places with my husband once we got our vaccines.

"It's not until things change that you realize how much you can take for granted. This period in time continues to humble me and remind me of who and what is most important in my life. Without my circle, my faith, and a steady stream of chaotic reality TV (thank you Real Housewives), my year would've been a struggle."

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"I'm claiming health, wealth, and clarity in abundance for myself and all those around me."

Amanda Johnson 

Courtesy of Amanda Johnson

How She Made It Through 2021:

"Honestly, as someone who has a full-time job and also still manages a blog full-time, it has always been a struggle finding balance. I personally feel as if working from home full-time was a HUGE help since I could shoot content on my hour lunch break with my photographer. I also was taken on by an agency and having a manager who negotiates contracts for me has been a game-changer time-wise. I am able to spend more time on content creation while saving time on the nitty-gritty details. They also help me manage my deadlines!"

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"My personal goal is to double the income that I made in 2021. I was able to accomplish this in 2021 and hope to do the same this coming year. I'd also love to continue utilizing Pinterest marketing and growing my blog views using this!"

Asa Dugger

Courtesy of Asa Dugger

How She Made It Through 2021:

"Through prayer, and prioritizing myself through rest, leisure, and therapy."

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"For 2022, I'm manifesting divine provision in my relationships, finances, and emotional health!"


Courtesy of Lynette

How She Made It Through 2021:

"Intentionally embracing balance and being misunderstood. Anyone who knows me knows self-care in every aspect of life is my jam. 2021 gave the opportunity to put these skills to practice. As a healthcare professional, balance in 2021 became extremely important not only for self-care, continued reflection, and self-awareness but in navigating which conversations are helpful to yield promising results versus those that increase anxiety and perpetuate division. This [past] year gave me ample opportunity to become comfortable with being misunderstood and embracing not only NOT having the last word, but also NOT forcing dead-end lengthy explanations.

"2021 allowed me to continue to protect my God-provided personal peace and that of my sanctuary at home above all costs, regardless of family, friends, society, or work. Embracing where accountability meets the balance of my inner critic creating self-awareness and taking deep resetting breaths to perpetuate it!"

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"Balance changes daily, so continuing to make habits of everything above, inviting new challenges with God as my pilot."

Codou Diop

Courtesy of Coudou Diop

How She Made It Through 2021:

"2021 was a hard year but also a great year. I hit a lot of milestones! I made it through the year by being kind to myself and celebrating every small win. I also made it thanks to my community and my family. The pandemic has brought me close to such amazing like-minded creators that I would have never had the opportunity to meet."

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"Love, health, success, and happiness."

Thaina Blot

Courtesy of Thaina Blot

How She Made It Through 2021:

"This year I said no to fear and yes to my husband and my dream of moving abroad. This pivot has brought so much light to what I value most and has provided the space to focus and cultivate more of those things."

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"For 2022 I'm manifesting more peace, more love, health, laughter and unapologetically creating art daily."

Jazmyn Creer

Courtesy of Jazmyn Creer

How She Made It Through 2021:

"I made it through 2021 with a whole bunch of perseverance and honesty in my pain surrounding my desires. I had been wanting to leave a job for a long time and it felt like it wouldn’t come, but it did. In that, my husband and I would like to have our first child and it seemed like everyone but us have gotten pregnant. Just reminding myself that my/our journey is never the same as someone else’s and there is always a process and reason for what we go through."

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"For 2022, I would like to spend more time enjoying the simplicity of life and everything that involves. I don’t want a lot of clutter, be it people, things, tools."

Francesca Murray

Courtesy of Francesca Murray

How She Made It Through 2021:

"I made it through 2021 by doing the work to break my scarcity mindset. Be it purchasing a book or course to learn something quickly instead of watching YouTube, or paying extra on a flight for priority boarding and roomier seats. I realized things don't always have to be done the hard way - and that convenience doesn't have to be a luxury. I no longer feel guilty for investing in what facilitates ease in my life, which has been great for my mental health!"

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"A consistent daily routine that allows me to be as efficient as possible while prioritizing rest - something we all deserve after the past two years we've had!"


Courtesy of Fenique

How She Made It Through 2021:

"2021 was quite the year! Hope, believing in myself, and seeing other Black women glow up in their aspirations got me through this year. I began the year with a new man, a steady job, and plans for my 12.1cm fibroid tumor to be removed. Two weeks before my surgery the man vanished. Several weeks later I found myself free of tumors and a new job. Throughout the first two quarters of 2021, my perspective on my priorities changed. I’ve been working on my career for 10 years. This year I decided to focus on the things that have made me come alive.

"In September, I stepped out on faith in myself and quit my new job. I had no work-life balance and had a part-time job that could help me supplement my life. I really loved sharing my myomectomy story on my YouTube channel as well as my food and fashion content.

"I decided to focus on my brand. I’ve spent the fourth quarter of 2021 on a sabbatical from my 9-5 job. It has been the best decision of my life. I’ve decided to pivot into a different area in tech, go after my influencer dreams, and put my mental and physical health above everything else."

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"Going into the new year I feel renewed and driven. I’m manifesting happiness, an abundance of peace, and success in all of my heart's desires."


Courtesy of Lakeisha

How She Made It Through 2021:

"The truth is, I don’t know how I made it. One thing I did do was change my thinking from focusing so much on the future and learning how to take things day by day. I learned how to ask for help, for space, for grace, and for understanding. I spent more time with myself so I could learn about myself and made choices to surround myself with people and energy that fueled me. I read a lot of books so I could learn and understand other perspectives.

"I prayed, I cooked, I sang, I focused on forgiving, and sending love out to the world even when I felt I had none to give. I thanked God every day, even on the hard days. I wrote in a gratitude journal almost every day. I guess you can say I became way more intentional day-to-day and in return, I was given choices and another day to breathe and that’s how I made it through 2021."

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"I am manifesting a life I don’t need a vacation from. That includes a safe and sacred space to live, a healthy body, mind, and spirit through meditation, exercise, and lucrative connections that are more than just finances. Harmonizing my time to do the things I love while contributing to the bigger picture of my life."

Jacinda F. McDuffie

Courtesy of Jacinda F. McDuffie

How She Made It Through 2021:

"I made it through 2021 with faith and family. In 2018, in the blink of an eye, I became the primary caregiver for my mommy; in 2019 my daddy died unexpectedly; in 2020 the pandemic caused my travel agency to come to a screeching halt, and in 2021 things started to slowly gain momentum. I do have a full-time job but my agency is my baby and my passion. Not being able to assist people to live out their travel dreams was/is hard BUT I know God will continue to work all of this out."

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"For 2022 I am manifesting continued good health for my family, me, and others, a prosperous business and to continue to walk the path God sees fit for me."

Nyla Bland

Courtesy of Nyla Bland

How She Made It Through 2021:

"Every New Year, I select a word of the year. For 2021, I chose 'INTENTIONAL'. Keeping this word in the forefront is what helped me make it through this whirlwind of a year. In my younger days, I tended to be more reactive than proactive. Now I entered every decision with pure intent and calculation. Whether it was prioritizing self-care or choosing to work double to get ahead. Being intentional has become a way of life and has changed me for the better.

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"I’m manifesting clarity for women business owners around the world. That their newly formed, or pivoted, or expanded businesses continue to increase. And that they are effective leaders within their communities and organizations."

R'Chelle Mullins

Courtesy of R'Chelle Mullins

How She Made It Through 2021:

"After having a few impactful businesses deals and partnerships fall apart along with a fibroid diagnosis and two major surgeries this year, forgiveness, therapy and, radical self-care played a major part in my survival. Once I forgave others and myself, the road to healing mentally, physically, and emotionally was so much easier. Therapy helped me to appreciate who I am and navigate life with ease and live in the present."

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"Financial security, more meaningful relationships/friendships, and the launch of my agency."

​Amber Spottsville

Courtesy of Amber Spottsville

How She Made It Through 2021:

"2021 handed me my entire black ass, okay?! But GAWD. A lot of prayer and therapy were involved, approximately 22 bottles of Black Girl Magic Riesling (shout out to the McBride Sisters), and a deep dive into self-care and self-realization. 2021 taught me how to simply let go and let flow. I gave frequent self-reminders that 'comparison is the thief of joy,' I’m running my own race and doing it well evidently because I am still here. I will be 30 in 2022 and I am NOT defeated."

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"I am manifesting love, both platonic and romantic, health, wealth, and a whole [lot of] growth through me and around me in 2022. And most importantly, I am welcoming all the ebbs and flows with an open mind and heart."

Lauren D. Fisher

Courtesy of Lauren D. Fisher

How She Made It Through 2021:

"The grace of God! [2021] was definitely a year of tests and strength with quitting a job I hated to getting one I love, new love (still figuring each other out), and getting in a wreck totaling a new car after having to get a new car when my 10-year-old baby’s engine went out."

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"I’m manifesting it all! More travel, a new home, new opportunities, and organic happiness!

Andrea Ellison

Courtesy of Andrea Ellison

How You Made It Through 2021:

"2020 was my precursor for 2021. I left an abusive marriage for the final time and I've been on a journey rebuilding myself from the inside out. As a single mother of three children, it hasn't been easy. I have continued pursuing my second Master's degree in Social Work while working. My friendships have been the epitome of greatness and have been my continued source of motivation.

"To not only just live my best life but to thrive. Being able to travel to multiple places such as taking my kids to Denver to go skiing for the first time and turning up with my girls in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Paris have been those reminders that I need to remember that my life is worth living at the absolute highest level."

What She’s Manifesting For 2022:

"My experience is serving the foundation for me to be able to assist women who are domestic violence survivors and who are transitioning from divorce and relationships to empower them to redefine themselves and to identify their purpose. For 2022, I'm continuing to come for every blessing that I thought I didn't deserve in every area of my life."

Alicia Myers and Samantha Joseph

Courtesy of Alicia Myers and Samantha Joseph

How They Made It Through 2021:

"2021 proved to be a year of isolation and self-cleansing. Through this process, the discrimination we have experienced over the years surfaced and it was a perfect time to bring to life a dream of ours to create a fashion show that would answer to the inequalities evident in the fashion industry. Samantha and I came together and formed our non-profit organization Color of Fashion which was created to elevate fashion and promote inclusivity by bridging the gap between diversity and high fashion. We made Color of Fashion our utmost priority and it quickly developed into a movement that we will continue to breathe life into."

What They’re Manifesting For 2022:

"For 2022, we are manifesting a larger impact and aim to shed light on the biases that continue to plague the fashion industry. We plan to maximize our resources and grow exponentially so we can be the change this industry needs."

Featured image courtesy of Shyleshia “Shy” Daire

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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