Feeling Stuck In Life? Here's How To Get Out Of That Funk
For the past few years, I've been working to create a life I don't want to escape from. A huge part of that journey has been dedicated to doing more of the things that make me happy and accepting that I'm worthy of a life I love. I had become accustomed to accepting what life threw at me and learning to be grateful for it. But, I wasn't happy, nor was I fulfilled.
I often found myself forcing gratitude out of fear of seeming ungrateful. Forcing myself to always focus on what was going great in my situation or telling myself it could be worse stopped me from addressing the lack of joy I was experiencing daily. It also prevented me from seeking opportunities that aligned with the vision I had for my life.
I was in community with a few people at the time who knew they weren't happy with their lives, and we were deciding to settle. When I would ask them about good things happening in their lives, some would only be able to reference events from high school or college, but 10 years had passed since then. Some people experienced tragic or unplanned things that derailed their goals and became stuck in a cycle of thinking about what could have been. They were in their late twenties and early thirties and already felt like their best days were behind them.
Well, the average person lives to be 72 years old and I eventually found myself wondering what they would do for the rest of their days while allowing their past to define their reality. I knew I didn't want that for myself and became determined to do something different. If you can relate to these feelings, keep reading to learn what I did to keep the spark going when I didn't feel excited about life.
1. "Lean into the discomfort."
When I was a resident advisor, my team leader would end each meeting by reminding us to “lean into the discomfort” because it was the only way we would grow. I thought it was a cool reminder, but as I've gotten older, it's become integral to how I move through life. Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable is one of the first steps in the growth process.
Sometimes we'll shy away from being uncomfortable because we assume we're in danger. We may perceive that we're at risk of failing or embarrassing ourselves. These concerns are valid because when we're operating outside of our comfort zone, we're vulnerable. We may be hyper-aware of how others see us and may even be uncomfortable adjusting to the changes we see within ourselves. But, two things can be true at the same time. This period of discomfort could be one of the scariest and most exciting times of our lives!
We also don't have to throw ourselves out into the unknown unprotected. During times of transition, we must practice self-care and self-soothing activities. Taking risks exposes us to rejection, judgment, anxiety, and hearing the word "no" more often. We won't succeed or get the outcome we were hoping for each time, and that's okay. Finding support systems and engaging in stress relief activities can help us navigate the challenges.
Over time, doing things that scare us can help build our capacity to tolerate uncertainty and increase our self-confidence when we realize we can do hard things.
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2. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Social media is a great tool to connect with people and be exposed to new things, but it can also leave you feeling defeated if you aren't careful. Social media has made it easy for us to participate in the 'Comparison Olympics.' We watch the highlight reel of someone's life and question why we don't have what they have or couldn't navigate a similar hardship the way we did.
We could receive news we're hoping or praying for and might not allow ourselves the space to be excited because we saw that someone share what we perceive to be more significant news on Instagram. We could be getting ready to take a much-needed vacation and become sad that we can't travel to the locations we see on travel pages.
We may even become upset that more people aren't more forthcoming about their negative life experiences. Sometimes we want to know that other people are struggling because we don't want to feel alone in our situation. But the truth is, we don't need to know every single detail of someone else's life to feel better about our own. It isn't healthy, and most times, it isn't our business.
No one on the earth is without worry or hardship. People are allowed to remember and display their lives the way they want. Focusing on what you can see about others takes the focus of what matters most and what you actually have power over: your life.
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3. Find things to look forward to.
Sometimes we are afraid to look forward to things because we're afraid to be disappointed. The past two years have been rough. People had big plans for 2020, but the pandemic caused a lot of social shifts and grief. It seemed like we were always anticipating the next tragedy. But grief and joy can coexist.
Grief and happiness are both important parts of the human experience—you can't have one without the other. Give yourself the space to feel how you feel and process your feelings. But also give yourself permission to move on. Ruminating over what could have been or obsessing over what could be, makes us feel powerful because it gives us the illusion of being in control. But none of that is real, and we end up stuck.
If we're going to incorporate more joy into our lives, we must remember that we only have the present moment and we have to let the present be enough. We may not know what will happen next year or next week, but we can still schedule a time to do the things that make us happy.
4. Learn something new.
I attempt to learn something new whenever I'm stressed to shift my focus. I thought I lacked discipline and the ability to concentrate (which can be true lol), but then I read that learning something new helps ease stress and increases your self-worth. I also learned that learning also makes you happier and increases your self-confidence.
Learning doesn't have to be structured or confined to the classroom. You can learn through meeting new people and hearing their life experiences. You can also take dance, writing, or drawing classes from YouTube University. It also makes you open to trying new experiences because you'll be confident in your ability to take on new challenges.
Learning can also help you realize that you're never stuck. You'll be confident in your ability to take on new challenges because you'll know you can develop the skills to succeed. As long as you're willing to learn something new and put yourself out there, you have the opportunity to reinvent yourself and change your life.
So, get out of your own way. Your best life is waiting for you.
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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.
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.
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