All I hear about these days is how glorified being a "ride or die" is. She is considered a top shelf standard partner that every woman should strive to be. No matter what happens, how much she has to sacrifice, or how much she is put through, her continuing to ride is the gold standard.
But the thing about being a ride or die is a part of you will actually die. Even if the rest of you rides.
Essentially, I am the same woman I was when I started out, however, I am definitely a different woman on the inside. The human being that I was, is gone forever. Somewhere between the call I received from another woman from his phone number, and the child he had outside of our marriage with a totally different woman six years later, I lost myself.
The woman that I was, is buried with the son that I lost.
Hindsight is always 20/20. You're always going to look back and chastise yourself for the mistakes you made and every time you were weak. Hell, there were so many weak moments that I lost count.
There were the times I saw other women driving my car. Then, of course, all of the calls, emails, and pictures that were sent to me by other women that showed him smiling and happy with them, even though I couldn't get him to pose in a picture with me. By the end, I was out of tears. I was used to the disrespect, the lies, and the loneliness. I had stopped being the woman I once was, and he had stopped being the man I fell in love with. The two of us were mere shadows of ourselves, broken bones in human skin. We were hopelessly entangled in something we called love, but at the bare minimum, was tolerance.
When I think back, I can count all of the opportunities that I chose to forfeit. I met men who were willing to risk it all for a taste of me. Men who wanted to make me part of their lives and who they were willing to take me home to their mothers. I wasn't a secret to them, I was a prize being squandered by a fool.
Turning them down felt like a knife I was turning into my own stomach, even if it was the "right" thing to do. After all, I was married and wanted it to work. Then I'd log on to Facebook a few months later and see that same man happily boo'd up with a woman who was smart enough to say yes. A woman who I knew benefitted from the fact that I said no. His heart was ready to love me, but because I wasn't ready to be loved, it instead was poured into someone else. I'd tell myself that I was happy for him, as I looked at the once again empty space in the bed next to me. "Happy." Sure.
I held on for the sake of holding. Where else was I going to go? I'd ask myself. I became a paragon of virtue: the patron saint of riding and dying. Women in my life, from best friends to acquaintances, would text me, DM me, email me, pull me to the side and say, "Teach me how to stay. You are such a good wife, you value your marriage and stand by your husband no matter what. Teach me your way."
And I'd wince as if they'd slapped me. It was as though they were telling me to stick my head into a tank full of snakes. I'd swallow hard, take a deep breath, smile, and then honor their request. I would teach them to be quiet and turn their heads the other way for the sake of not being photographed together. I'd tell them how I knew in my gut that I was doing the right thing and because I loved him so much, there was nothing he could do that would make me leave.
But I felt like I was betraying them. Lying to them. Putting them up to be fools like me: riding and dying until the wheels fell off, and then running the rest of the way. I wanted to tell them to run in the other direction as fast as they could, that he was never going to change, and that the only result of this would be crashing and burning. I knew this because I had the scars to prove it.
Still, I told them to stay, and most of them did. I envied the ones who found the courage to move on, that was until I ended up becoming one of them.
It took 12 years until I finally decided I was done riding. Done dying.
That shit wasn't cute as a teenager or in my 20's, but by my 30's, it was intolerable. Love was no longer enough. I realized that love is not all we need to get by.
As the mother of two daughters, it took seeing them shaking their heads in pity at me for me to finally wake up and say no, this is it. What kind of example am I setting by letting someone, even if it is their father, even if it is someone I tried to ride for, even if it was the man I was with since I was 19, make me look and feel like a damn fool whenever he felt like it? What does love have to do with self-respect, self-worth, and setting examples for those looking to us for guidance? Nothing.
I try to remind myself that this is in the past. I know I cannot live there. Did I make mistakes? Yes. I still do. Life is all about making mistakes, but growth means not making the same ones repeatedly. You know what they say about hard heads? They make soft asses.
I've gotten my bruises and moved forward. What I did or why I did it is no longer important. I am here today, and know that it could all be gone tomorrow. I'm learning to value life and time, starting with my own.
You have to be willing to learn from the past so that you don't repeat it. Learn to establish boundaries. Love and value yourself so that you're not putting yourself on sale for the next man that window shops in your direction.
You are top shelf. If he's not willing to reach up there and get to you, then tell him to keep it moving. You don't have the time. Own your time, heart, and mind. Your inner peace is more important than merely existing to be loved by someone who doesn't know your worth.
Featured image by Shutterstock
- The Age Old 'Ride Or Die' Mantra Goes Both Ways - xoNecole ›
- I Am Not Your Ride Or Die: What We All Can Learn From Keri Hilson ... ›
- I Am Not Your Ride Or Die: What We All Can Learn From Keri Hilson - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
is a mother, writer, yogi, Scorpio and has good hair but is NOT Becky by any means. By day, she pushes paper, but by night, she unleashes her superpower: using her words.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Self-employment is something many people prefer or aspire to, as being your own boss is both admirable and empowering. And women are bossing up more than ever, representing almost 40% of all self-employed professionals. Being self-employed myself, I can attest to the benefits, but like everything in life, there are two dueling sides to every coin. And if you're considering taking the leap from 9-to-5er to self-employed, there's a lot to consider before totally pulling the plug on your day job.
Here are a few things to know, from my own experience, before transitioning into self-employment:
1. Recognize that self-employment is not entrepreneurship.
There are key differences between being an entrepreneur and being self-employed that many people get all mixed up and confused about. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they are definitely not the same.
A self-employed person operates just like an employee, often offering services and talents to business owners, nonprofits, or organizations. An entrepreneur typically offers goods and services to a client or customer, registers their business for tax purposes, and can reap the benefits of resources like business bank accounts, financing, and investments.
When you're self-employed, you often don't get paid if you don't work, most typically as a freelancer or on a project-by-project or client-by-client basis. When you're an entrepreneur, you can successfully scale a business where you can reap the benefits whether you're actively working in it or not.
You can indeed launch a one-person business (i.e., as a limited liability company or LLC), but there are requirements related to that, particularly when it comes to taxes. There are also things to consider, such as lifestyle, goals, and risk tolerance. The annual and financial obligations entrepreneurs have aren't the same as self-employed professionals, like additional taxes, filing fees, and mandatory financial reports.
(I know some of y'all entrepreneurs might be reading this with a side-eye, but hey, not every self-employed person is a business person, and some simply might not want the extra maintenance and responsibilities of having a registered business, no matter the perks.)
While I'm not discouraging any self-employed person from launching a business, knowing the difference between the two is important because it sets the tone for how you approach the work that you do, your expectations on the lifestyle and requirements, and what benefits might be afforded to you.
Many entrepreneurs can employ people, scale their businesses for expansion, get capital investment, and even take days, weeks, or months off without having to actually work yet still reap the benefits. This is often not the case for a self-employed person whose salary largely depends on actual work hours, paid invoices, and strategic budgeting.
2. Inform yourself about the tax obligations and other financial shifts that might happen once you are self-employed.
When you're working a 9-to-5, your company handles taking taxes out of each check. This is not the case for self-employed folk. There's a quarterly schedule that must be followed for federal taxes, and there are other regulations based on the state where you primarily work (even if you're working remote). If you're used to having a hands-off approach to taxes (other than going to the tax preparer once a year), you definitely want to shift your expectations and get to know all the information you can about self-employment taxes.
Also, the way you budget might be a bit different when you're self-employed. If you find, for example, that you're constantly living check to check or that you're used to a guaranteed paycheck every two weeks, you'll need to shift the way you look at how money flows in your household.
Self-employment can include periods where you're not getting paid as consistently, and many companies work with invoices that are paid 30, 60, or even 90 days after you've finished the work you've done for them. Keep this in mind and plan accordingly based on the industry you'll be working within.
Talk to a tax or personal finance professional to find out about how your finances and tax obligation might change once you decide to become self-employed, and then set up a plan so that you won't get caught slipping come Tax Day. The process is different for self-employed people, and this is an important aspect of the process that will save you lots of money and stress in the long run.
I learned the hard way to negotiate, upfront, a set period of time for my services (when applicable and reasonable) to be written into a contract and to set my rates not solely based on my previous salary but considering additional costs like WIFI, travel, health insurance that I have to pay for out-of-pocket, home office technology and tools, and the time it actually takes to complete tasks. The pandemic brought home how super-important this was because, as a freelancer, someone can simply cut you with no compensation or warning.
3. Get to know your true strengths and weaknesses when it comes to work ethic, skills, environment, and motivation.
Self-employment is definitely not for the faint at heart. It can be a constant hustle in the beginning, and if you're not careful, you might end up wondering how you'll pay your rent or car note simply because you don't have clients or work lined up. It's good to be a self-starter and super-organized. It's also good to brush up on your marketing, communications, and sales skills because you'll need to pitch yourself and your background in order to land projects and clients.
While working your full-time job, take a few courses or find a self-employed mentor so that you can strengthen your skills in areas where you might need some improvement (i.e., pitching, online marketing, social media branding, or project management.) Practice self-employment on the side as an intern or with a side hustle so you can learn a bit more about yourself that you might be overlooking while serving as an employee.
Being self-employed means you become multiple departments in one person. For example, your current company provides support like assistants, accounting departments, legal teams, and IT, so you might not be used to having to handle all of those things on your own. For some, this can be overwhelming, while others find the challenge invigorating and worth the sacrifice if it means having autonomy and financial and time freedom.
Also, if you're motivated to do your best by being around teams or working in an office, self-employment might be too isolating for you. True, there are groups and co-working cultures you can join, but it's definitely not the same as having built-in comradery of fellow full-timers at a company. Be aware of these things so that you're realistically making a choice that suits the life you want to live and the work experience you want to have in order to thrive.
4. Create an emergency fund solely for the transition.
While you're working a 9-to-5, create a separate savings account just for the transition. Anything can happen between quitting your job and getting your first freelance gig, client, or project. When I first stepped out to be self-employed, I thought I had the dream client, only to find out that it wasn't a good fit and I'd be looking for a new one after six months. This might happen several times before you really hit a groove, find your fit, build up your reputation, and get consistent work.
Having a financial cushion outside of your usual emergency fund helps to soften the blow if something like a client loss, a late invoice payment, or an unexpected work-related expense (i.e., computer replacement or broken equipment repair) comes up.
Sometimes, self-employment can include certain up-front costs like renting an office space, investing in new technology or other tools, travel expenses, or hiring other self-employed professionals (i.e., a consultant, web designer, or tax preparer), so you'll want to be smart, be prepared, and keep your receipts.
5. Understand your why.
Every great and sustainable journey starts with a good reason---a "why" that keeps a person going. If you know your why, you're less likely to just give up when things get rough, and you're less likely to make costly, mentally and physically draining mistakes. I decided to go for full-time self-employment because, after more than a decade working in my field, I really felt burned out at the time, began to resent not being promoted as quickly as I thought I should, and saw that I could make more money contracting my skills and talents out than working full-time for one company.
I also loved that I could pick and choose who I worked with and align my values with the projects that I was part of (versus being forced due to being a full-time employee beholden to a contract and the so-called values of a corporation or company.)
I've made quite a few mistakes over the years, but my why remains the same, and when times get hard, I simply remember the overall peace, flexibility, and autonomy I have in serving the women millennial audiences I want to serve through journalism and communications.
6. Be sure that you're offering services or expertise that can be used for years to come and that's competitive.
If you're considering self-employment, be sure your skills are competitive and have a future of need. I knew, even a decade ago, that much of the media industry was going the freelance route, and today, with layoffs becoming commonplace and full-time employee budgets being cut, contract work has become the name of the game. I saw this industry shift coming a mile away, and, like my early foray into digital media before publishing houses were monetizing it, I knew eventually, freelance work would be abundant and preferred.
If you're already doing a job that is in high demand or you offer something niche and one-of-a-kind, working for yourself might be the move. But if you've found that your current skills might be obsolete in the next two to five years, try learning another skill, shifting how you do the work you do, or tapping into another passion that can ensure you're offering something valuable in a market where it's direly needed.
Self-employment can be a joy and a pain, and for many of us, it's the only choice for self-care, mental wellness, and financial freedom. If you're considering taking the leap, take into account these tips and go forward in bold confidence, informed, and prepared.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image LaylaBird/Getty Images