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A Corporate Career I Hated Gave Me The Confidence I Didn't Know I Needed
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A Corporate Career I Hated Gave Me The Confidence I Didn't Know I Needed

I set the standard and I create the rules.

Workin' Girl

A 9-to-5 never bothered me, and I never dreamed of a corporate career. I was a worker bee, and I was cool with it. I was stable – I had a job and a paycheck. I was content – I had no desire to manage people. I didn't want to sit in middle management meetings, lead a team, or work my way up the corporate ladder. Those things just never appealed to me. And money isn't my greatest motivator, but I understand that, for most people, it is. I never saw myself as a people person, a girl boss, or SHEeo either.

But a few years ago, I had transitioned from a support role in the public sector to a consultancy role with a "big four" consulting firm in the private sector. At the time, the job title, and money were my greatest motivators. I could afford shit now – a whole lot of shit. I earned four times more than my previous government salary in a year. How? I didn't know a damn thing about consulting, business management, or marketing. They say it's about who you know, but it's also "sink or swim". I learned every damn swim stroke possible just to survive the first couple of months. I had something to prove: I am capable of doing this job and worthy of all the coins in my bank account.

I succeeded with grace, but I always do. Despite our strained relationship, I am my mother's daughter. And she gifted me with grace at a very young age. I grew comfortable in my role; I loved the respect and autonomy the position offered me. I loved the flexibility too. I was in a position where I thought I was seen and heard. My opinions were valued. For the most part, I was my own damn boss. But – with pay increases, bonuses, company perks, promotions, and titles come a level of work politics that I wanted no parts of. A toxic work environment, on-the-job harassment, and bullying will have you fold real quick.

I started to feel uncomfortable in meetings, training, and team outings. Like I didn't belong in the room. As if I was not smart enough to be around my elite colleagues. I grew tiresome of discussing revenues, business proposals, and projects. I was lost in every single meeting. Every conversation drained me. When would we ever talk about some real shit? Something that at least had meaning. All the things I loved about my newly acquired role; I slowly began to hate. I tapped out – I had to. My mental health was compromised, and my identity was lost due to the emotional trauma I endured.

What I didn't know was everything I hated about my corporate career gave me the confidence I didn't know I needed.

I exude confidence in every single thing I do now. I mean, my work ethic was already bomb, but it's fire now. I own everything I do, and how I do it, with ease. From the way I articulate myself to how I interact with people in social and business settings. There isn't anything I say I'm going to do, that I don't deliver on. I kill it every time. Let me explain how this came to be.

1.Making Connections Is Everything

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In the corporate world, making connections with the right people is key. And building your network a must. You cannot survive without doing this. I've said this before, but I'm reserved by nature. I'm a lot quieter too, especially in a business setting. But having to interact with high-profile clients and top-level company executives daily forced me to shed some of that skin. Clients had an all-access pass to me – texts, phone calls, emails, coffee breaks, and impromptu meetings. My communication skills had to be on point, and they were. Developing relationships, gaining trust, and keeping clients happy became my thing. Building relationships with people is now and always has been one of my strongest skill sets. Who knew I was someone that likes to talk so much?

2.Welcoming Opportunities

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I used to be uber-selective about the opportunities presented to me. It was uncomfortable not knowing how to do something. I wanted to save myself the embarrassment of effing up the first time. I hate making mistakes. I even lacked knowledge in certain business areas, which led me to feel insecure. But I realized opportunities are learning experiences that I cannot pass up. Whatever I didn't know, I researched. BTW, research is also another skill set I was able to strengthen. The more you're willing to learn about a new subject or pick up a new skill, the more opportunities come your way. Think of it as building your personal toolbox. The more tools you have, the better equipped you are to succeed in your profession.

3.Challenging My Time Management & Organizational Skills

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For someone who believed herself to be organized, my organizational skills were tested. When you are responsible for your own team, work product, presentations, deliverables, and running client meetings, you have to be a hundred percent on. There is no room for error. A lot of the time, I was teaching myself how to do this with little to no resources. I thought I managed my time well, but this was some next-level shit. I had to learn to stay on top of myself. I had to find tools and implement ways to help me to do so. Like making it a point to plan my workdays and allocate time when necessary. A planner became my best friend. This was not easy by any means, but I made it work. When I say I was stretched, I was S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D thin. But I stay ready, y'all.

4.My Writing Skills Are Lit

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I always believed I wrote well, at least academically. English and social sciences were my strong suit, but technical report writing was a major shift for me. It was dry, monotone, and boring AF. I was accustomed to MLA and APA formats. Business writing was tough, but I managed. Proposal writing was even worse because you had to sell yourself and sell a service, and that didn't sit right with me. As much as I hated it, I wrote with no complaints. It challenged my creativity, expanded my vocabulary and writing style, and at times left me with writer's block. Even though I knew my writing was good, there was that one manager who constantly told me my writing was garbage. And now, here I am writing personal essays, interviews, lifestyle, beauty, and investigative pieces for a brand I love, xoNecole, and a founder I have followed for over a decade, Necole Kane. I couldn't be any happier. Success is always the best revenge.

5.I Do My Own Thing Now

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Now, this is something I never saw coming–something I never dreamed of. A career I despised gave me the confidence I needed to create my own opportunity. Yes, I write. I write a lot. I'm in love with words and writing is forever my first love. I still consult, and I am a paralegal by trade, but now I get to do all of this for myself. The funny thing is, I didn't know I was going to end up here. It's beautiful. I am thankful a wrong career choice led me to do my own thing. I have no regrets. I get to decide how I show up in the workforce. I choose the type of people I work with. I negotiate the type of work I accept or decline. And the most important thing to me is building a business that is honest and has a purpose. I exist to help others.

Every single challenge I encountered in my previous career made me a better professional. Everything I hated about business and Corporate America made me a stronger person. It broke me down and built me up, but in the end, I found my way.

Now, I set the standard and I create the rules. I walk into rooms knowing what I have to offer is gold. And I think you should, too.

Are you a member of our insider's squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!

Featured image by Shutterstock

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My knee-jerk reaction, of course, comes from years of watching film and TV that have exploited Black trauma onscreen and were created with little (if any) consideration for what could emotionally trigger the Black audience. The 1955 murder of Emmett Till is so heartbreaking and inherently violent; would this film make us live through that violence on screen?

Fortunately, no!

This week, before watching Gina Prince-Bythewood's incredible The Woman King, a featurette for Till played in place of a trailer and it soothed my fears.

"There will be no physical violence against Black people on screen," the film's award-winning director and co-writer Chinonye Chukwu says in the featurette. "I'm not interested in relishing in that kind of physical trauma. We're going to begin and end in a place of joy," she says.

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Mamie's story of courage in the face of unspeakable tragedy deserves to be told--especially as we continue the fight for civil rights today. Knowing that the Black filmmakers behind the film are centering Black joy and aiming for our empowerment through the film makes a world of difference.

TILLis in theaters October 14.

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