The Eclipse Season saga continues into this month along with the Retrograde party. The month ahead continues to find us challenging what we've known as the truth as facades come crumbling down. This is a time in which we're encouraged to tune into our intuition instead of making decisions on what is presented to us. Sometimes the truth is a tough, but necessary, pill to swallow.
As sobering as this month can be, Venus comes through with the love assist to soothe us after experiencing some much-needed reality checks. Remember--we're all going through a lot of changes right now so be kind to yourself and others. Instead of feeding into the divisiveness, lean into our shared humanity.
Check out how your zodiac sign is affected in the month ahead!
AriesAriesLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The beginning of the month has you focused on home and family matters, Aries. However, duty calls as it pertains to your career challenging you to find that much-needed work-life balance. The New Moon Solar Eclipse invites you to assess your inner dialogue and the way you communicate with others. Mental limitations that restrict you from living and expressing your truth are dissolving with this lunation.
When Mars enters Leo, you've got the confidence to not only talk the talk but to walk the walk as well.
On the 14th, the Saturn-Uranus square could bring a reality check regarding your finances and long-term goals. The following week, the Sun enters Cancer, motivating you to do absolutely nothing but stay at home. On the 22nd, Mercury goes direct which helps you move a project into the next phase. The Full Moon on the 24th highlights an achievement of yours. June wraps up on a high note with Venus entering Leo, inspiring you to shine your light!
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June begins with Venus sweetening up your tongue. As the saying goes, "You'll catch more flies with honey." The New Moon Solar Eclipse on the 10th invites you to dive deeper into your beliefs about your self-worth and finances. Creating wealth for yourself starts from within. On the 11th, Mars enters Leo encouraging you to rule with love, not an iron fist. Be mindful of how much energy you're exerting towards your career goals around the 14th.
Prioritize time to decompress and do something just for you.
When Jupiter Retrograde meets up with the Sun in Cancer on the 20th, spend some time nurturing your dreams. Speak life into your future and surround yourself with supportive friends. On the 22nd, Mercury goes direct which helps you get back on track financially. The Full Moon on the 24th gives you a chance to be recognized for your contributions to your community. During Neptune's six-month Retrograde, you're invited to gain more clarity about the greater impact you want to have on society and how your tribe can help you achieve your mission. When Venus enters Leo on the 27th, indulge your inner child with some much-needed play time.
GeminiGeminiLaci Jordan for xoNecole
Your values, finances, and material assets could use some TLC when Venus enters Cancer at the top of the month, Gemini. The New Moon Solar Eclipse on the 10th brings sweeping changes to at least one area of your life. Life as you know it may be moving in a completely different direction but it's exactly what your soul ordered to experience more growth. When Mars enters Leo on the 11th, your energy is bursting through the seams, making this the perfect time to get any busy work done--especially those tasks you've been putting off. Around the 14th, be mindful of others challenging your spiritual beliefs.
Your path isn't meant to be understood by everyone.
On the 20th, Jupiter goes Retrograde, inviting you to dive deeper into your career preparation. The Sun shifts into Cancer on the same day, encouraging you to nurture your hidden gifts and talents. When Mercury goes direct on the 22nd, you're feeling a lot more sociable than you have been this month. The Full Moon on the 24th exposes the truth about someone in a position of power or influence. Throughout Neptune Retrograde, you'll be able to see through illusions a lot more clearly. On the 27th, Venus enters Leo, motivating you to seize new opportunities that require you to be front and center stage.
CancerCancerLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The month begins with Venus pouring in the blessings once she enters your sign on the 2nd, Cancer. The New Moon Solar Eclipse invites you to shed the final layers of a fear that has held you back from expressing more of your true essence. When Mars enters Leo, you're motivated to get the bag in some ways that align more with your current value, making this a supportive time to renegotiate existing contracts and agreements. Be mindful of clashing egos within your friend group around the 14th.
Challenge yourself to hold space for differing perspectives and experiences to cultivate deeper intimacy within your connections.
On the 20th, Jupiter Retrograde meets up with the Sun in Cancer which is a good time to dive deeper into research, studying, and writing. When Mercury goes direct on the 22nd, your intuitive insights become more clear, granting you the confidence you need to move forward in a new direction. The Full Moon on the 24th could have you dissolving a contract or partnership that doesn't align with your long-term goals. During Neptune Retrograde, which kicks off on the 25th, you're invited to restore your connection with your Higher Self. The month ends with Venus entering Leo, making you a magnet for good fortune and expansive opportunities that give you the opportunity to shine!
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Take it easy on yourself this month. With Venus entering Cancer, your energy may not be up to par. Get your rest and take lots of cat naps. On the 10th, the New Moon Solar Eclipse reveals how out of alignment some of your friendships are. Avoid getting caught up in gossip and handle this matter with maturity so you don't f*ck up your karma. When Mars enters Leo, you're feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the world. On the 14th, be mindful of power struggles with an employer or someone in a position of authority.
Choose your battles wisely.
On the 20th, Jupiter begins its retrograde, giving you a chance to dive deeper within yourself for some much-needed soul-searching. On the same day, the Sun enters Cancer, inviting you back into your cozy cocoon to prepare for your birthday season. When Mercury goes direct on the 22nd, you're able to clear up confusion and misunderstandings amongst your tribe. The Full Moon in Capricorn reveals a habit of yours that is detrimental to your well-being. Work-life balance is the key to supporting your health. The month ends with Venus entering your sign bringing the birthday blessings in a little early.
VirgoVirgoLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The beginning of the month brings your attention to your friends, social network, and your hopes and dreams, Virgo. On the 10th, the New Moon Solar Eclipse invites you to free yourself from the expectations of others by defining what your truth is separate from those that you've placed on a pedestal. When Mars enters Leo, be mindful of repressed anger bubbling to the surface. You may think you're mad at one thing when in actuality there's something deeper to explore internally. The Saturn-Uranus square on the 14th has you feeling at odds with your responsibilities and your growing desire for freedom.
When Jupiter goes retrograde on the 20th, you're encouraged to get into some self-reflection to gain a better understanding of repetitive, and undesirable, relationship dynamics.
On the same day, the Sun enters Cancer, making this a good time to nurture your connections with like-minded people. Everything starts getting more clear when Mercury goes direct on the 22nd, giving you the momentum you need to move forward with your career goals. The Full Moon on the 24th illuminates the intentions of a casual romantic interest. This is a make it or break it moment to determine whether you should continue to invest your time. During Neptune Retrograde, the rose-colored glasses come off and you're seeing others for who they truly are, not who you want them to be. The month wraps up with Venus teaming up with Mars requiring you to keep your ego in check.
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The pressure is on in matters of career and reputation but if anyone can rise to the occasion it's you, Libra. The New Moon Solar Eclipse on the 10th supports you in dissolving thought-patterns that don't support your greatness. Speak life into you and your dreams! On the 11th, Mars enters Leo which could bring out the competitive side amongst you and some friends.
Avoid the drama and channel that motivation towards accomplishing your goals.
A secret about a love interest can be revealed around the 14th which could either strengthen the relationship or end it. Jupiter goes retrograde on the 20th, inviting you to take better care of your physical health which could mean addressing some of your escapist or over-indulgent tendencies. On the same day, the Sun enters Cancer, motivating you to make some boss moves. When Mercury goes direct on the 22nd, any delayed travel plans are finally moving forward. The Full Moon on the 24th brings a home or family matter to the head for resolution. June wraps up with Venus entering Leo to soften the intensity and increase the playful energy amongst your tribe.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
The beginning of the month kicks off with Venus entering Cancer which has you attracting some loyal followers that want to soak up the gems of wisdom you have to share. On the 11th, the New Moon Solar Eclipse invites you to transform your mindset, which ultimately transforms your life. When Mars enters Leo, you're motivated to overcome any challenges standing between you and your career goals. Family and home matters can come to a head around the 14th--possibly leading you to consider a relocation if you're feeling too restricted.
On the 20th, Jupiter Retrograde meets up with the Sun in Cancer, making this a good time to dive deeper into your creative process through some extensive research and study.
Remember that practice makes perfect (or at least close enough to it). When Mercury goes direct on the 22nd, your vision becomes all the more clear now that you're no longer bogged down by past disappointments and heartaches. The Full Moon in Capricorn on the 24th supports you in resolving any discord with your siblings or other close relations. When Neptune goes Retrograde, be prepared to revisit your childhood and past dating experiences with a more grounded perspective. The month wraps up with Venus entering Leo, making you a magnet for opportunity and recognition.
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June starts off on a quiet note with Venus entering Cancer inviting you to enjoy some privacy with the people you're closest to. In matters of love, things are getting deeper between you and bae. The New Moon Solar Eclipse on the 10th supports you in wrapping up a karmic cycle in your relationships. The old way no longer works for you and you're ready to experience the kind of connections you really want. When Mars enters Leo, you're ready to get another stamp in your passport, making this a good time to plan a summer getaway.
You may be feeling at war within yourself around the 14th due to a growing need for more spontaneity and less structure.
On the 20th, Jupiter Retrograde begins encouraging you to connect with the wisdom of your ancestors. On the same day, the Sun enters Cancer, which has you feeling more lowkey than usual. When Mercury goes direct on the 22nd, you're more clear about where you stand within some of your most important relationships. Signing new contracts is now supported as well. The Full Moon in Capricorn on the 24th helps you resolve a financial blockage. On the 25th, Neptune goes Retrograde, helping you see through the disillusionment of your family. Some hard truths may have to be accepted during this transit. The month comes to a close with Venus in Leo, elevating your social platform.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
The month begins with your relationships taking up much of your attention while Venus transits through Cancer. The New Moon Solar Eclipse on the 10th empowers you to kick a bad habit. Remember--it's mind over matter. On the 11th, Mars enters Leo, encouraging you to be mindful of your temper. Random outbursts are likely if you're not actively engaging in shadow work. Around the 14th, the Saturn-Uranus square has you feeling torn between indulging in pleasure and pursuing the bag.
On the 20th, Jupiter Retrograde and the Sun in Cancer meet up marking a pivotal time of transforming your relationships by improving your communication skills (which includes being a good listener as well).
On the 22nd, Mercury goes direct which could clear up any confusion and miscommunication regarding your health. This is also a good time to implement your new work strategy and daily routine into effect. The Full Moon on the 24th places the spotlight on you so make the most of the energy. When Neptune goes Retrograde on the 25th, you're getting to the truth within yourself and about the world around you. The month wraps up with Venus entering Leo which could have you attracting some extra support from a financial institution or a benefactor.
Laci Jordan for xoNecole
June kicks off with you nurturing your physical vessel when Venus enters Cancer. The New Moon Solar Eclipse on the 11th supports you in healing your inner child. When Mars enters Leo, your relationships get most of your energy. Just be mindful of being too bossy with your loved ones. On the 14th, the Saturn-Uranus square brings some family tension to the surface especially if you're feeling restricted in some way. On the 20th, Jupiter goes Retrograde, encouraging you to revisit your budget and spending habits over the past couple of months. The Sun enters Cancer on the same day, motivating you to tend to your physical health.
On the 22nd, Mercury goes direct, helping you get clear about matters of romance. This is also a good time to move forward with pursuing a new hobby or creative project.
The Full Moon on the 24th helps you break the shackles of disempowerment. You are strong, wise, and incredibly capable of accomplishing whatever you put your mind to. When Neptune goes Retrograde on the 25th, it's time to reel in any excessive spending habits. The month comes to a close with Venus in Leo, helping you attract some generous clients, business partners, and opportunities.
PiscesPiscesLaci Jordan for xoNecole
June begins with Venus entering Cancer inviting you to indulge in pleasure, creativity, and romance. The New Moon Solar Eclipse on the 10th is transforming the limiting beliefs that you inherited from your family which is a vital part of generational and ancestral healing. When Mars enters Leo, you're motivated to get your body into shape. On the 14th, the Saturn-Uranus square has you pulled between wanting some private time and needing to tend to your daily affairs. When Jupiter begins its Retrograde on the 20th you'll have plenty of time to enjoy your solitude and some soul-searching. On the same day, the Sun enters Cancer inviting you to explore a hobby or do something creative.
Self-expression is key throughout this transit.
On the 22nd, Mercury goes direct, making it a good time to move forward with any property investment, relocation or renovation plans. The Full Moon on the 24th has your social media presence poppin', making this a good time to launch that new product, website, etc. During Neptune Retrograde, you'll be getting more clear about yourself and how you may have been slightly disillusioned about something (or someone) in your life. The month wraps up with Venus in Leo, motivating you to streamline your efforts in work.
Featured image by Laci Jordan for xoNecole
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- June 2021 Horoscopes — Love and Career Predictions | Allure ›
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 To Navigate Group Travel With Your Friends While Maintaining Your Autonomy
I come to you fresh off of a vacation that I used my tax refund to pay for, delieverdt! I am advocating for you to consider group travel to get the most bang for your buck. Often, traveling with a group is way more budget-friendly to split high-end accommodations rather than to pay for a hotel for one person (when solo traveling). And if you didn't know, rooming in a vacation home as opposed to a hotel room affords you the luxury of more privacy with features like a private pool, a whole kitchen, the ability to have your own room in a house, etc.
Yes, after watching a few reality TV episodes with people being bunched into a beautiful home only to start shaking tables and throwing drinks, it's tempting to let your imagination run wild with all of the negative scenarios that could play out when you travel with friends. I know mines did! However, with a little maturity and self-awareness and making an investment into having more effective communication skills when it comes to the hard stuff, I respectfully suggest that if you are reading this: You don’t really have a problem with group travel, you need to learn how to navigate traveling in a group setting.
Below are some tips I applied to my recent trip to maintain my autonomy while traveling with friends:
Set your personal intentions on why you are attending before agreeing.
The best way to enjoy group travel is to set one's intentions before going. Get your “why” defined because it's super important! Though you may have been invited to celebrate a friend's birthday or another occasion, I think it’s imperative to pair why you're coming to show support for another person with finding ways to take actions that will also benefit you. Unless you are one of the lucky ones getting an all-expense paid trip to celebrate with your friend, you are under no obligation to stick around your travel group every waking moment.
So let's explore your other intentions for saying yes to the trip. Is it to try some local cuisine, an excursion that you haven't participated in, or get into photography? Set that intention and stick to it because you deserve to feel fulfilled by the trip you're going on after spending your hard-earned money and PTO.
Courtesy of Zaniah B
Manage your trip mates' expectations by setting boundaries before the trip.
Effective communication is a major key; this is your chance to give the trip organizer a fair warning of what you are and are not interested in doing before they feel blindsided on the trip. For example, if you know you don't feel like ziplining this time around, let the group know ahead of time to manage the expectations of everyone being together on the trip, and this also creates an opportunity for some alone time.
And while you set your boundaries, make sure you are also planning time together with the group too! Meal time is a great way to regroup throughout the day to check in and allow yourself to say “yes” to an unexpected invitation to do something spontaneous with your girls! Give yourself just as much time to be with your group as you spend away from them. Balance is another major key!
Courtesy of Zaniah B
Be prepared to give grace.
No matter how great the personalities are, there are some moments when everyone won't mesh too well with each other. It's not personal, and it doesn't have to ruin a person’s trip. We are all imperfect human beings, and traveling can bring an additional level of stress you wouldn't have encountered in a more casual setting like brunch. This makes it easier for miscommunications and misunderstandings to happen. Practice as much empathy as possible, listen more than you speak, and work on responding and not reacting.
There are so many factors at play, like alcohol consumption and being forced out of one's comfort zone in many ways that can amplify situations that you would otherwise be able to smooth over. Most importantly, give yourself grace too! I personally use group travel to improve my ability to connect and co-exist with people whom I may have never considered having much in common. It helps me brush the chip that I have on my shoulder of being “ different” by exposing how random women have more in common than not.
Group travel recharges me through the mutual compliments, shared experiences, and bonding that occurs with women on these trips. The seriousness of adulting can be isolating, and planning an independent getaway can be a daunting task; a girls' trip may just be just what you need.
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