How Viral Memes Could Be Stunting Your Glow Up
I love a good inspirational meme or video, especially in my plight to successfully manage the aftermath of taking a risky, super-challenging, sometimes-can't-even-afford-a-dollar-burger leap into self-employment.
But let's get real here: Some of these social media self-help sadists---with their warped, tired versions of advice on how to glow up, must be stopped.
In the past few years, I've noticed a consistent undertone of struggle and insecurity in some of the so-called motivational content that often goes viral:
- Let your haters be your motivators.
- You can't start a business with a 9-to-5 mentality.
- If you're not afraid, your dreams aren't big enough.
- The best revenge is success.
- Don't invest in those who have nothing to offer in return.
Oh, and let's not forget all the skewed descriptions of what it means to "boss up" or "be a boss"---those memes and videos that detail "what millionaires/bosses do" that we mere mortals "don't or won't." The worst of them always include strict, robotic, unrealistic "formulas" for success.
I liken the bombardment of such messaging to the rants of preachers claiming to save souls but only focusing on hell, "the enemy," and damnation with no mention of grace, love, truth, and forgiveness.
I'd read (and sometimes share) these messages, and then find myself thinking, "Hey, maybe I'm not working hard enough," or "Yeah, these haters. I gotta prove them wrong." I would totally revamp my week, push myself into habits and routines that were not a good fit, and conduct manic self-checks that caused me to feel inadequate and exhausted.
Then, one day I had a major Girl, Bye moment. Just because I'm not a crack-of-dawn morning person ready to slay a never-ending to-do list every day, doesn't mean I'm not going to reach my goals.
The greatest leaders I admire are givers and look at life in a way that does not define every relationship by what someone can do for them. (I'm sure Oprah meets people who could never offer her anything nearly as tangibly "valuable" as the billions of dollars in her bank account, yet she pours into people all the time.)
And let's get into these invisible haters.
Why am I seeking "revenge" on anybody? I'm not a platinum-selling rapper or superhero out in these streets. I'm a regular girl with ambition and a loyal circle of friends and family. I have an 8-year-old niece who looks up to me, mimics almost everything I do, and calls me "famous." I don't even get trolled in my comment section.
Some of the "gurus," "influencers," and speakers who constantly feed us these warped narratives are oftentimes profiting and prospering not from our advancement and enlightenment, but from a constant, unhealthy craving for affirmation, envy, and acceptance.
Those same cravings fuel low self-esteem, procrastination, wickedness, and delusion.
Well, I finally said, "No more." I couldn't drink the pseudo-positivity Kool Aid anymore. I took three important steps toward weaning myself off the motivational-meme crack:
I gave my follow list a cleanse.
If the person or org I was following constantly posted memes or videos about haters, struggle, "enemies," or sterile do's and don'ts (ie common-sense adages that black grannies been drilling in our heads since the devil was a baby), I unfollowed them.
I began to research the influencers, gurus, and motivational entrepreneurs I wanted to follow before committing to receive their messaging every day.
I'd ask myself several key questions: Does this person or organization have tangible receipts that show consistent progress and happiness similar to how I define those concepts for myself? Does their life reflect anything I want to replicate in my life? Do they have solid training or experience in the area of which they focus on? Is the content they share relevant, balanced, timely, and useful to my life?
Hey, someone's social feed can seem so attractive and lit, but so does a $19.99 flash sale on a 30-inch blonde wig. Cute on the next girl but not quite right for me. Decline and unfollow, please.
I began to stay away from folks' timelines whose messaging constantly led with words or related concepts of "can't," "don't," or "won't."
People who constantly focus on what can't be done or who are always trying to be the Negative Ned masquerading as a "voice of reason" really annoy me. I'm into solutions. Call me overly optimistic or too full of faith, but I'm that girl who will say, "Ok, you don't have the money to do that. So what do you have? How can you get the money? What are our options?" If the messaging consistently focused on the don'ts, I'd hit the unfollow button with the quickness.
It's cool to gain inspiration in the form of a kick-in-the-butt every now and then, and it's definitely okay to share a girl-you-know-that's-right moment with a friend who needs encouragement. I just believe balance and discernment are key.
Let's enhance the motivation narrative with adages that celebrate who we are and where we're going, show love to those who ride for us and give credence to progress and sisterhood. The only motivation you need is you. Bump the haters.
Featured image by Getty Images
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
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The face of tennis is changing, and it’s about time. Over the years, if you were asked to name any Black tennis player, two would come to mind: Serena and Venus Williams — and rightfully so. But as new tennis sensations like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka rise to fame for their athleticism and tenacity, it’s clear that there’s a new era of tennis taking shape to bring forth a fresh take on representation and reclamation on the courts.
For that reason alone, there’s no better time than now for Black Girl Tennis Club co-founders Virginia Thornton and Kimberly Selden to lead the charge of making tennis more accessible to Black women and girls so the next Serena and Coco can emerge.
What began as your everyday lunch chat between friends to discuss their mutual dream of owning a boutique hotel turned into a proposition to start a tennis club together. With Virginia being a tennis player since adolescence and Kimberly entering the sport as a hobby in her adult life, the two jumped at the idea of making a space where Black women could discover a new hobby and not feel like the “only one” on the tennis court.
“The club kind of started for selfish reasons, but not in a bad way,” Virginia tells xoNecole. “We realized that there was actually a need for this.”
Kimberly adds, “Now we're literally disrupting a whole industry. We didn't plan it, but it felt divine; like we were called to do this. Black Girls Tennis Club has been a catalyst for personal growth in all areas of life, and we would have never anticipated that.”
Since establishing the Black Girl Tennis Club in 2022, the two have made it their mission to cultivate a space for “Joy Equity and Radical Wellness.” Their platform serves as a means to inform, inspire, motivate, and reshape the narrative around Black women and girls in the tennis world while highlighting the transformative power of sports and play for liberation.
With approximately 78% of tennis players being white and only 6.8% being Black, and the average cost of a private tennis lesson being $60 per hour, racial and economic disparities within the sport are vast. To help close this gap, the two founders have banded together to develop free tennis instruction clinics for girls aged 8-18 and local tennis events that bring adult offerings through programs like the Self Love Tennis Club and Cardio Tennis Classes to HBCU campuses in Virginia.
Both Virginia and Kimberly understand the power of their mission and believe that they were brought on each other’s path to execute it together. “It’s the power of alignment,” Kimberly says. “I think when you're doing the right thing and you're obedient, and answer the call, that’s when things start to happen, and the universe conspires to make them happen.”
We caught up with the founders to discuss their mission, the importance of representation, and how they plan to disrupt the tennis industry one court at a time.
xoNecole: Could you talk a little more about your CARE pillars with change, access, representation and exposure?
Kimberly Selden: As we started to do the work, we saw that there were so many equity issues. Although we knew from our own personal experiences that there are barriers to tennis being an expensive sport, we just acknowledged it as the culture of tennis. Because it's predominantly white, that transfers over to the fashion, the dynamics on the court, the attitudes, and the mindset. And so we knew this required a culture shift for us to ever really feel comfortable.
We were exposing kids to tennis, and then after the clinics, they're like, "Okay, now what?" It's still expensive, and they still may or may not have had access to it if they're not with us. We don't want to just pop in like, "Hey, here's a clinic, bye!" So, the culture change is just a reflection of what our existence looks like. Access is about being able to access the sport through courts, programs, or a coach. Representation is that we can't believe it until we see it.
Granted, there are a lot of pro Black women tennis players taking off, and we love that. But we think about media representation as well [as] representation within the USCA, in the boardrooms, and the people that are making the rules around the game.
xoN: Why do you all think it’s important for Black women and girls to reclaim their space on the tennis court?
Virginia Thornton: It's rare, at least in my world, where you're in a space and see nothing but women who look like you. But it makes me feel great when I can be my authentic self, especially on a tennis court. Just shedding all the weight of pretending to be anything else. You feel at home when you're around nothing but Black women. Even small things like seeing a young Black girl being okay with how God made them is amazing.
KS: [In] the Atlanta clinics we did, everyone was crying. It's just clear how desperately we need it. Connection is the key to a long life. So many of us — especially from the pandemic and working from home — are isolated. With every clinic, it's just fun to be there, and it just fills you up. I think people need hobbies. I think a lot of people, especially people in big cities, feel that way and were confronted with that during the pandemic.
xoN: How did sports play a role in helping you two find your voice and confidence both on and off the court?
VT: I think what people don't realize is that tennis is such a mental sport. You could be a 4.0 player and have a bad mental day, and you will play like you've never picked up a racquet before. So, the mental piece is super important. For me, it's like ‘you against you,’ even though you are playing somebody.
If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court. I had an issue on the court where I have a habit of saying, "Sorry," — I think a lot of Black women do, honestly. Then I realized that they wouldn't say sorry or they’d use my kindness as weakness. I've learned a lesson in that because everything translates on and off the court.
"If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court."
KS: It's easy for me to do things that I'm good at, but it's not easy for me to do things that I'm not good at. Tennis is still challenging for me, but it pushes me. It’s a reality check for me; I know when things are aligned, and when they're not. It feels like a big metaphor for me because it's pushing me to do something that's uncomfortable and makes me work for myself more.
xoN: What do you hope the long-term impact of Black Girl Tennis Club will be?
VS: We want to have a space for people who might be workaholics or might be going through depression. It's always great to have a hobby, whether that's knitting, sewing, or what have you. For me and Kimberly, it’s about creating hobbies for Black women and girls but also knowing that it’s okay to not be amazing at it. You don't have to be amazing at tennis; you could hit around the court, and that's okay.
The next Serena or Venus might come from Black Girls Tennis Club.
Featured image by LumiNola/Getty Images