December is a powerful month for the world and a month where love, power, and connection are all coming together as one. With the Astrological transits that are happening this month, true gifts are appearing to tap in to, and the possibilities are truly endless right now. Sagittarius Season is always a time when there is more hope and excitement in the air, and December is no different. There are a lot of opportunities this month if you open your heart to receiving them.
The month starts with Neptune in Pisces moving out of retrograde and going direct on December 3rd. What this means is clarity, hope, and dreams coming to fruition. Neptune retrograde made rose-colored glasses seem like the right idea, and with the blinders off now, you are better able to grasp love and turn your vision into reality. On December 6th, Mercury moves out of Sagittarius and into Capricorn, and this move is all about taking a grounded approach to your thoughts and ideas, and about creating concrete results in your world.
On December 7th, the Cold Moon of the year arrives, and this Full Moon will be occurring in Gemini. With Mars currently retrograde in Gemini, this Full Moon is aligning with passion but is also a reminder that without being in the right headspace, things don’t come together as smoothly. The Moon in Gemini can get a little chaotic, and this Full Moon is an opportunity to let go of what knocks you off your ground and to align with inspiration powerfully and purposefully. Venus enters earth sign Capricorn a few days later, helping us ground the lessons we have learned in love over the past year. Venus in Capricorn’s love language is gift giving and with the holidays prevailing during this time of the year, the mood is right to give love and receive it.
Jupiter makes a powerful move into Aries on December 20th, where it will be until May 16, 2023. Jupiter in Aries is an especially magical time for fire signs and cardinal signs. Jupiter in Aries rewards independence and empowerment and is a time to pave your own path in life. The Sun moves into Capricorn the next day on December 21st, and Capricorn Season is here to replenish, ground, and bring things full circle. Before the month comes to a close and 2022 to an end, there is a New Moon in Capricorn and Chiron goes direct on December 23rd, and Mercury goes retrograde on December 29th until January 18, 2023.
With the year ending with a Mercury retrograde, there is a need to do more reflection than pushing forward, and the closer you are to the heart, the closer you are to your true power in life.
Aries Monthly Horoscope for December 2022AriesKyra Jay for xoNecole
This is a month of empowerment for you, Aries. As the year comes to a close, you are taking a look at your resources, your wins, and your self-empowerment, and are moving forward with this type of vigor and confidence. December is a time of action for you, and a time of focusing on your personal goals in life and going after them. You hold the power in your hands, remember that.
Some important transits are happening for you for December, and that is Jupiter moving back into your sign on December 20th, where it will finish its lucky transit until May 16, 2023. Jupiter in your sign is a time of blessings, and you are moving into a once-every-decade type of luck right now. A few days later Chiron moves out of retrograde and goes direct in Aries on December 23rd, and you are seeing the positive outcomes of the personal healing you have been through this year.
Taurus Monthly Horoscope for December 2022TaurusKyra Jay for xoNecole
December is all about trusting your intuition, and focusing on where you are headed right now, Taurus. This year you have been learning a lot about your inner guidance system, what manifestation means for you, and how to tap more into this powerful energy. This month you are envisioning your future with optimism, and seeing glimpses of a new day. December is an inspiring time for you, and a time when the vision is clear.
Venus, your ruling planet, moves into Capricorn on December 9th and into your house of adventure. With this transition, you are looking to have more fun as the year ends and your love life is getting a boost of excitement as well. With a New Moon in this area of your chart also on December 23rd, you are moving out of the year with faith, joy, and opportunity. This month overall is a time for you to get the full picture and decide what intentions you want to set forth in your life now.
Gemini Monthly Horoscope for December 2022GeminiKyra Jay for xoNecole
December for you is all about love and balance, and balance and love, Gemini. You are ready to close one chapter in your life and tap into a new one. You are seeing some closures in your life this month, and are moving more into love. With the Sun in your 7th house of romance for most of the month, new developments are taking place in your life regarding relationships and you are getting the opportunity to experience a coming together and deeper connections in love.
The Full Moon of December is in your sign on December 7th. This Full Moon is the Cold Moon of the year, and you are letting go of anything that keeps you away from who you are and who you want to be. You are experiencing emotional renewal, growth, and divine clarity during this time. Your ruling planet Mercury goes retrograde before the year ends on December 29th, and you are leaving the year reflecting on what has been, your belief systems today, and what matters to you most.
Cancer Monthly Horoscope for December 2022CancerKyra Jay for xoNecole
This is a month of becoming for you, Cancer. You are experiencing an inner awakening in December, and are overcoming some previous challenges. Over the past few months, you have been taking a step back, focusing on your health and your peace of mind, and have been protecting your energy. Before the year ends, you are ready for your big debut, and you are putting yourself out there and letting your divine light shine.
Love is a powerful force in your life this month, as the energy moves into your house of love and commitment. Venus will be highlighting your love zones for most of the month, and you are feeling the unconditional love that you so often give. Jupiter moves into Aries on December 20th and into your 10th house of career, and you are seeing some projects come to fruition and your hard work is being recognized. While Jupiter is in Aries until May 2023, you will be moving through a powerful and fortunate time regarding your reputation, professional life, and career.
Leo Monthly Horoscope for December 2022LeoKyra Jay for xoNecole
December is a coming together of love and harmony, Leo. This is a month where you get to take a deep breath and relax into the peace and beauty that your life has come to. This month is all about giving and receiving love, taking out moments for gratitude, and enjoying what is. Compassion is filling your world, and there are a lot of pleasant experiences in store for you as the year comes to a close.
Some important transits that are happening for you in December are that Jupiter moves into Aries on December 20th and into your 9th house of travel, spirituality, and adventure; and Chiron moves out of retrograde and goes direct in this same area of your chart on December 23rd. What’s happening now is that your eyes are opening to the possibilities, the gifts, and the love in your life and your future. You are moving into a special time in your life where you are exploring the world around you, meeting new and inspiring people, and seeing firsthand, your power as a divine creator of your life.
Virgo Monthly Horoscope for December 2022VirgoKyra Jay for xoNecole
December is all about finding your balance, letting go of the baggage, and focusing on your personal truths in life, Virgo. This month is reminding you that sometimes when you can’t find the light, you have to become it and light your own way forward. Not everyone is going to understand you in life or get where you are going, but you must be the one to stand in your gifts, your empowerment, and your authenticity.
Your passion is being highlighted this month as you walk into your purpose and let go of the doubts or restrictions of others. With Neptune going direct in your 7th house of love on December 3rd, you are gaining clarity regarding your relationships in life and things are less cloudy here. Venus enters your 5th house of happiness and romance on December 9th, and the space you have created in your life up until now is ready to be filled with more love, light, and hope. By the end of the year, your heart is having its say and you are feeling empowered by what is coming to fruition for you in life.
Libra Monthly Horoscope for December 2022LibraKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about healing, renewal, and gaining some clarity on your personal belief systems in life and if they have been hindering or empowering you, Libra. In December you are finding your balance between acknowledging and processing what has been, but also turning a new page in your life and not getting too caught up in the past. Your guidance for the month is to take what you know now and to focus on taking one step forward each day.
With Jupiter moving into your opposite sign Aries and into your 7th house of partnership, you are walking into a powerful and blessed time in your love life. While Jupiter is roaming through your love zone until May 2023, you are ready to experience the gifts of connection and commitment and are experiencing a level-up in love. Before the year ends Mercury goes retrograde in your 4th house and you are getting back to the basics, connecting with family, and redefining your safe spaces.
Scorpio Monthly Horoscope for December 2022ScorpioKyra Jay for xoNecole
December is a time of rejuvenation and opportunity, Scorpio. You are lifting yourself up from the past, and are walking into your new day. This month is all about getting creative with where your life is and where it’s headed, and about taking a more active approach to your life. Believe in your power as a creator and put some of your inspirations and skills to use this month, Scorpio. You will be surprised by what you can create and manifest for yourself with the right mindset and confidence.
On December 7th, there is a Full Moon in your 8th house of intimacy and rebirth, and you are going through an emotional transformation during this time. The end of the year is about ego death and about gaining your true power from within. Jupiter moves into your house of health and work before the year ends on December 20th, and you are overcoming the past health challenges you have faced this year and have more time and energy on your hands to live free, healthy, and grounded.
Sagittarius Monthly Horoscope for December 2022SagittariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about aligning with your divine purpose in life, Sagittarius. With Sagittarius Season underway and your eternal flame beaming, you are experiencing true joy and accomplishment this month. December is a time of past, present, and future all coming together as one, and you are living in your divine alchemy. The universe is helping you tap into your personal truths and power this month and you are inspiring those around you.
With the Sun in your 1st house for most of December, this time is all about putting yourself first more, and about living your full potential. The Full Moon on December 7th is activating the power within your relationships and is a time to flow rather than force. The New Moon on December 23rd before the month ends is occurring in your income zone, and this is a good time to set your intentions for your finances for the rest of the year and the year ahead. December is here to remind you that you are worth everything you are currently asking for in life.
Capricorn Monthly Horoscope for December 2022CapricornKyra Jay for xoNecole
As the year comes to a close, you are assessing your wins and your losses of the year. This is a month of finding your inner balance, and about giving yourself more grace and compassion through what you have experienced. Your guidance for the month is to not be afraid to be vulnerable with others or ask for help and advice when needed. There is true power in vulnerability, and life is cracking some things open for you this month, Capricorn.
A lot of the energy is in your sign this month with Mercury moving into Capricorn on December 6th, Venus on December 9th, the Sun on the 21st, a New Moon on December 23rd, and Mercury going retrograde in your sign on December 23rd. The year is ending on a Capricorn tone and who better than you to move through this time? What’s happening as the month ends is positive self-recognition and realizing that the vision you have of yourself is a direct correlation to the vision you think others have of you. Align with your truths, and put your happiness first.
Aquarius Monthly Horoscope for December 2022AquariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
December is a time of summoning your inner power, Aquarius. You are feeling confident in the tools you have and the people that are by your side right now, and are leaving the year with more gained in your life than you began the year. This year has shown you how strong your determination in life is, and it is commendable how you have had your back through every step of the way this year.
As chapters come to a close and you walk into a new day, you have love surrounding you and greater opportunities to speak up and share your voice. Jupiter moving into Aries on December 20th is a powerful move for communication in your life, and you are moving into a time of self-expression, connection, and movement. The New Moon on December 23rd is moving through your 12th house of closure, and you are ending the year ready to say goodbye to the past, heal, and accept. This year has been a big year for gaining new foundations in life.
Pisces Monthly Horoscope for December 2022PiscesKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about opening up to receive, Pisces. December is a time of allowing, taking a receptive approach, and letting go of the need to push rather than flow. This month is allowing you to attract some good fortune and love into your life, and you are a powerful force of attraction in December. You have been finding your balance this year, and as the year comes to an end you are ready to receive your blessings that are coming through from the grace you have upheld.
Jupiter moves out of your sign on December 20th, and although Jupiter always feels a little brighter in your sign, you are still going to be in a space to receive good fortune with Jupiter now moving into your house of finances and self-value for the next five months. Income streams are developing and you are being valued for who you are and what you bring to the table. The New Moon on the 23rd before the month ends is a time of friendship and hope, and a time where your manifestation potential is enhanced.
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Featured image by Kyra Jay for xoNecole
Tayler Barakat is a Mystic who has studied Astrology for over a decade. She does intuitive astrology and tarot readings for people all over the world, and her work focuses on healing and empowering individuals. Follow her on Instagram @taylerbarakat_ and check out her website www.listentothevirgo.com.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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How Black Women Can Get Out Of Survival Mode At Work
We've heard this same song replayed over and over again: Women are stressed and overworked, underpaid, and overlooked in the workplace. Research and everyday experiences back up this claim. And Black women face the added stress of discrimination, even lower pay, and being head of household for a large percentage of homes.
So, how can we get out of survival mode? How can we take deliberate steps to thrive? I'm a huge fan of looking at things from a balanced point of view. I refuse to wear those woe-is-me-it's-hard-being-a-Black-woman tinted glasses often sold to us by propaganda and fear mongers. Here are a few tips that helped me to finally step out of survival mode and into thrive mode:
1. Own your career choices with a mindset shift from lack to optimistic focus and discipline.
It can seem tough to radically approach your career moves as a journey filled with empowering choices, especially when bills have to be paid, and there's stress related to finances. Oftentimes, when I feel the pressure of financial responsibilities, what empowers me is a change in my outlook. I dislike feeling boxed in or forced into anything, including a job or professional role, simply out of financial need. So my mindset has to shift.
I've had to take jobs that I didn't necessarily like. I've also been underemployed before. The key was to think about the goal and focus solely on that. Whether it was to pay off a debt, tide me over while I was in a time of self-employment slump, or save up for a large purchase, focusing on the goal vs. my dislike of the actual job, helped me push through and be more strategic about my career moves.
Once I was able to meet certain goals, I found the freedom to be a bit more picky with the organizations I work with, the companies I work for, and the salary I was willing to accept. It might take a bit of time, but you can set yourself up for this freedom with strategy and focus.
The optimistic piece is key here because it's easy to fall into a cycle of thinking about the negatives of a job or career. It's also easy to fall into shame about mistakes made or about what you perceive you lack, but when you shift focus to what you can control, what you can change, what you do have, and your end goal, you're better able to really be strategic about going for the professional life and quality of work you'd like to have.
JLco - Julia Amaral/Getty Images
2. Get to know what really motivates your fulfillment or happiness at work.
Do you just generally like helping people? Do you like challenging yourself intellectually? Do you love working with children or being a person of authority? Do you like being outdoors or doing work activities in nature? Do you enjoy solo work where you really don't have to interact with too many people all the time? Is your work purpose-driven or more about making lots of money? (It's totally fine to be motivated by the pursuit of financial freedom and wealth, but you must keep it real with yourself in this regard. We all play various roles in this world, and the money-makers among us are vital as well, so there's no shame in that.)
Sit down and think about these things. Write them down. If your current job or career doesn't align with what motivates you to get up and take action every day or it doesn't involve tasks that will guide you to your ultimate goal in life, consider looking for other work, going back to school to get training in something else you might be interested in doing for a living, volunteering, or taking on other projects at your current job in order to really tap into what you enjoy doing.
3. Find other fulfilling activities that fill in the gaps of dissatisfaction.
Some of us can't afford to just quit a job or give up on the years we've dedicated to a company. That's fine. If there are things about your job that are stressors or that are simply just a norm in the work you do, find other activities outside of work that allows you to have some sense of release and balance. It could be sports, spa dates, exercise, church, family time, or solo do-nothing days.
It could be starting a side business, a nonprofit, or a group for other people who have similar interests. It could be therapy or other spiritual practices. If you find you've made your job your whole life, it's a good idea to figure out a better balance so that you aren't consumed by it.
It's great to be an achiever and to do well at work, but there are other human needs that are important, too. Deliberately schedule other activities on your calendar and make them a priority so that you can start to really enjoy your career by having a balanced outlook on your role in it.
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4. Use your voice---especially if you're in a leadership position---and ask for help.
Oftentimes, it can be hard for us to simply as for the help we need. We don't want to seem inadequate, inexperienced, or, dare I say, weak. We want to seem strong, powerful, and resilient all the time. And that desire is a valid one, especially due to the discrimination and toxic systemic issues we face in the workplace.
I challenge you, though, to ask for help, anyway. If you need an assistant, ask for one. If you need time off, ask for it. If you need more time to complete a task, ask for it. Build your tribe at work and get support. Even if you feel your manager or supervisor will say no, speak up anyway.
We have to get into a practice of speaking up because the more all of us do this, the more we empower ourselves and help to shift company cultures. It's really annoying and sometimes insulting to have to justify a reasonable request for assistance, but sometimes, it must be done.
I once had to create a whole pitch just to get an intern to help with the work I had in managing projects that probably should have been split between three people, not one. I ended up getting the intern, but just having to create this whole pitch for something a leader could have used common sense to approve was a lesson in humility for sure. It was as if I had to prove I deserved an intern or help at all.
If you're a manager, delegate. Trust others to do tasks. Empower them by giving them the tools they need to fulfill certain obligations that are really distracting you from the more vital deadlines that you need to meet. Being a superwoman is just not realistic, and to be honest, it's a farce. A true leader serves and is able to give others a chance to be leaders within their own right. You can let someone else shine without dimming your own light.
And managers, speak up for more efficient work processes, better ways to communicate, equal pay, and better protocols that put workers who offer amazing talent and time first. If you have to take baby steps to do this, do it, even if you must align yourself with a privileged ally or seek legal counsel. Again, change in terms of the fight to survive in a career or thrive in one can be sparked with one action from many of us.
5. Quit. Yes, just let that job go.
Burnout is nothing to play with, and it can literally affect your physical health. If you find that you're always mentally exhausted, are oftentimes depressed or angry, or you're coping with work-related stress through overeating or over-indulging in other ways, it's time to take a full stop. If you're literally at your wit's end and you have the family or other support to resign, do it. Talk to your family, a counselor, or a mentor, and take the steps to prep for an exit.
I'd had a point in my life where professional burnout literally led to a mental breakdown. I was in my early 30s at the time. I was overweight, drinking a lot, angry all the time, and wasn't sleeping well. I was working all the time as well, and I was not enjoying my life anymore. I called my mom. "There's something wrong. I cannot function. Ma, it's getting bad. I cannot do this anymore." She simply replied, "Come home."
I felt ashamed and like a failure, but looking back, several years later, it was the best decision of my life. My mom, stepfather, and grandmother really helped me during a tough time. I cashed out my 401K, got on unemployment, and rebuilt. I found love, bought a car (in cash, sis!), went to therapy, moved into my dream home, traveled, and made more money than I had when I was at that previous job where I'd experienced burnout. (I found balance again, both emotionally and mentally, and I felt like myself again.)
If you have the support, tap into it. Use all resources afforded to you to be able to take some time off to get out of survival mode. Change your environment.
And maybe your "letting go" doesn't even include quitting outright. Focusing on the positive outcomes, explain to your HR department or manager, and ask to take a sabbatical. During the break---where your job would still be waiting for you upon your return---map out what you want out of your career, what gives you joy, and what it will take to get your finances in order. Let go of the shame and get the help you need.
As Black women, we deserve all the best life has to offer, and while we must work hard and continue to challenge ourselves, we must also find fulfillment and joy within our career journeys. I hope these tips will help many of you take back your life and thrive.
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