In Meet the xoNecole Tribe series, readers are introduced to the members of the xoNecole team that keep the site up and running with their textured and varied stories and voices. In the monthly series, you get a more in-depth look of the person behind the pen, social media, the lens, or whatever they might contribute to the brand.
Meet Taylor Honore, our daily writer turned Associate Editor extraordinaire:
Credit: Danielle Webster
Where are you from?
I'm from all over, honestly. (Caution: Long answer alert) I was born in Iowa City, IA, where my mom was in graduate school for Mass Communications, but she and my father are from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and that's where I call "home". I also spent time in Texas, South Carolina, and Georgia. I currently live in Denver, CO.
Where did you go to school? And what was your major?
I went to the illustrious South Carolina State University (Go Bulldogs!) in Orangeburg, South Carolina. I studied Mass Communications with an emphasis on Journalism and I also took visual and digital art courses.
When did your love affair with writing begin?
When I was little, I wanted to be just like Janet (Ms. Jackson, if you're nasty). Singing has never been my strong suit, but I fell in love with writing lyrics at an early age. It seemed like my feelings actually mattered when they were put on paper. I found that when my emotions were translated into lyrics, they were no longer just thoughts I had when I was alone. I've always had a wild imagination and a lingering desire to be on stage, so at 14, my rap career was set in motion. In college, I studied journalism, and it taught me how multi-faceted storytelling could really be.
"I had always loved writing because it enabled me to tell my story, but my world changed when I learned that I could use it to tell the stories of others, too."
How and when did you start working with xoNecole?
Since college, I've wanted to work for Necole. I applied a few times before I was on-boarded by our managing editor, and my good friend, Sheriden.
Months prior, I had been working a part-time turned full-time job at Victoria's Secret, but I was miserable. One week after I quit to do my own thing, I got a pilonidal cyst, or a large ass crack boil, and had to be rushed into surgery, leaving me bedridden for two months. I was a college graduate whose mom was paying her bills and didn't have a dollar to her name. I was defeated, depressed, and couldn't get a 9-5 if I wanted to. Then, something told me to apply to xoNecole one more time, and as proof that God is a good, good God, Sheriden gave me a chance.
Me and Sheriden immediately had chemistry, and although it was my first freelance position, she taught me everything I needed to know to be an on-going daily writer. At the end of June, I was asked to come on as Associate Editor.
How do you practice self-care?
Weed and binge-watching TV are probably my favorite ways to take care of myself. I struggle with anxiety, and sometimes my thoughts get so overwhelming that I'm paralyzed. I can't think, I can't feel, I'm just stuck in my own head. Binge-watching my favorite shows with a little Mary Jane helps me to be mindless, even if it's only for a few hours. For example, yesterday, I watched six episodes of This Is Us. In a row. With no regrets. I didn't even know I needed to cry, and laugh, and smile, the way I did for those six hours, but I can tell you one thing, I feel a lot better since I did.
Credit: Danielle Webster
What are your interests? Do you have any hobbies?
I am extremely interested in all things cannabis and hip-hop related. I'm also super interested in nature, cooking, art, and live music of any kind. [I'm also] thinking about getting into yoga!
What is your favorite book of all time? What’s the last book you read?
The last book I read and one of my FAVORITE books ever is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. A friend sent this novel to me in college, and it changed my perspective of the world in so many ways. When I first got the book, I didn't take the time to read it. It wasn't until I was watching a Pharrell interview with Oprah, and he mentioned that this book changed his life that I really gave it a chance. Now, I read it at least once a year. I recommend this book to anyone I meet who is following their dreams or deep down has a desire to do so.
What’s your endgame? Why do you do what you do?
Ladies, call me ambitious, but I'm hoping to be holding a Grammy and a Pulitzer Prize when it's time for the King to call me home. I believe deep in my heart that every experience that I've had should be used to help someone else. Like most women, I've been through a lot of sh*t in my life. I've bumped my head, I've stumbled, but my only hope is that other women who have tripped and stumbled can look at me and know they can chase their happiness and follow their dreams and be successful, too, despite the hardships. My mother was the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Iowa with a degree in Mass Communications, and I plan to bring home so much honor in her name.
Credit: Danielle Webster
I want to be apart of the Black media ecosystem that creates real change. I want my unborn child to know that their mother used words and ideas to make the world a better place, just like my mom did for me.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? What is the most challenging part?
The most rewarding part of being Associate Editor at xoNecole is knowing that women's lives are changed by the narratives that we create. We work with so many amazing women with so many amazing stories, it's truly a blessing to be a part of a community that caters to people that look like me. I learn something new every day from a different woman and that is truly priceless.
The most challenging part of my job is overcoming a sedentary lifestyle and maintaining a productive work-life balance. I am a workaholic and a perfectionist when it comes to my work. That, coupled with my anxiety makes working from home difficult sometimes. Only recently have I learned to take time for self-care, because at first, I was walking around looking like a caveman, glued to the computer at least 12 hours a day.
What advice do you have for other freelance writers?
Be transparent! Your story is invaluable, and nobody can tell it like you can. Even experiences that may seem mundane to you can be useful to someone else's journey. I don't believe in censorship in writing, which is why I love xoNecole. Don't try to mold your story to fit any one narrative, find a platform that loves who you are. Tell your story and hold nothing back.
How can we keep up with you on social media?
You can like my Facebook page @Love, Pretty Honore.
And you can follow me on Instagram @lovetaylormichal and for some flavor in your ear, follow my music page @prettyhonore.
Keep up with the other members of our Tribe here.
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What Are Intrusive Thoughts & How Do We Manage Them?
TW: some depictions of intrusive thoughts may be disturbing for readers.
Have you ever caught your mind drifting off to entertain the most disturbing scenarios imaginable? Maybe you can’t stop thinking of all the ways a loved one could pass away or worrying that you left every candle lit in your apartment to which you’d return to a home in ruins. If distressing ruminations like these have crossed your mind, you may be experiencing an intrusive thought.
What Are Intrusive Thoughts?
Intrusive thoughts are unwanted or distressing thoughts, images, or impulses that pop into your mind without your control or consent. These thoughts can be repetitive, unsettling, or even violent in nature, and can cause anxiety and frustration for those who experience them.
“Generally they're unwanted thoughts that come up in our head that interrupt what we're doing or thinking, and can feel very foreign,” says Adia Gooden, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist and host of the Unconditionally Worthy podcast. “It’s any thought that intrudes or interrupts what you are doing. They can be distressing and upsetting for us because it feels like we are not in control of them, and they're coming up out of nowhere and aren’t in line with how you normally think.”
What Causes Intrusive Thoughts?
Certain trauma or stress can contribute to the development of intrusive thoughts, so having a challenging experience from the past or current life situations may trigger them to form. “An intrusive thought could come in the form of a flashback, image, or a thought about something that's happened to you,” Dr. Gooden tells xoNecole. “When it gets to the point where you feel like you can't function or make clear decisions, that's when intrusive thoughts become really challenging.”
While some of the 1 billion videos found under the #intrusivethoughts hashtag on TikTok would lead you to believe that these thoughts are nothing more than casual displays of our imagination going untamed. Intrusive thoughts are more than sticking your hand in a soap dispenser, wanting to cut all your hair off at 3 a.m., or having a random impulse to eat fake bread in public.
The Anxiety & Depression Association of America reports that approximately six million individuals, equating to roughly two percent of the American population, encounter intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are often linked with obsessive-compulsive disorders, but they can also manifest in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or anxiety.
Examples of Common Intrusive Thoughts
Because of the explicit nature of intrusive thoughts, they tend to cause shame and internal conflict in those who experience them. Although these thoughts can differ from person to person, these ideation can consist of:
- Violent or aggressive thoughts towards oneself or others, such as harming or killing someone;
- Sexual thoughts that are unwanted or inappropriate;
- Repetitive thoughts, such as a song or a phrase that keeps repeating in your mind;
- Contamination or germ-related thoughts or the fear of contamination and getting sick;
- Religious or blasphemous thoughts, such as questioning one's faith or having thoughts that go against religious beliefs;
- Doubts or uncertainty about one's own actions or decisions, such as fear of making a mistake or fear of not doing something right.
Intrusive Thoughts and OCD
That’s why Dr. Gooden encourages everyone to understand the difference between our fleeting thoughts and impulses and true, intrusive thoughts. “What level of distress does it cause and is it something you would never consider,” she says. “If you're finding that these thoughts are getting in the way of you living your life and that you're controlled by the thoughts, those are some signs that it would be good to get some support in navigating it.”
She also emphasizes the importance of understanding that while we may not always have control over our thoughts, we can control our behavior. “On TikTok, people are sort of blaming intrusive thoughts on their behavior, and our behavior is always a choice,” she says. “If we are in our right mind and we're not having a psychotic episode, our behavior is our choice — we are not obligated to follow any given thought that we have.”
Are Intrusive Thoughts Normal?
With intrusive thoughts, it’s natural to question whether these thoughts are “normal” to have. However, these thoughts are not meant to define who you are as a person but simply indicate that you have a functioning human mind with automated thoughts that you, or any of us, can’t control. These thoughts may come, but they don’t have to be acted upon, nor do they define who you are.
“I've worked with clients in the past who say, ‘Why am I thinking these things? What's wrong with me?’ But if you're not acting on the thought, then it's probably not a huge issue,” Dr. Gooden says. “If you are thinking a harmful thought towards yourself or someone else and you are making plans to act on that thought, then yes, we need to do something about it.”
How To Manage Intrusive Thoughts
If you are struggling with managing unwanted thoughts, Dr. Aida suggests taking these tips to help manage your mindset when they occur:
- "Recognize that it's a thought and thoughts are just thoughts. We often put a little bit too much weight on our thoughts, and that can create a lot of distress. But remember that thoughts are not facts."
- "Having a thought that's disturbing or upsetting doesn't make you a bad person, and it doesn't mean that you are suffering from a mental illness."
- "Sometimes the best thing you can do is say, 'Huh, that was an interesting thought. I'm going to let that go. That thought is not helpful for me right now."
- "Ask yourself: is this helpful? Is it helpful for me to buy into this thought and believe this thought? Asking that question can be really helpful because we are not at the mercy of our thoughts. If it's not helpful, you can let it go."
Intrusive thoughts can feel bizarre and foreign when they come up, but they aren't inherently "bad." Our minds can sometimes be filled with random and inappropriate thoughts, but that's what our stream of consciousness does: it thinks. Fortunately, we can release those thoughts at any moment; you don't have to follow through with them.
And ultimately, not every TikTok diagnosis is one that we should label ourselves with.
"It's important for people to acknowledge what they're experiencing but not run too quickly to diagnose themselves with some mental illness or disorder," Dr. Gooden advises. "It ends with confusion, and we miss the opportunity to understand the people who really do have that mental health challenge."
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