Most of the energy this month is activated in Scorpio and Sagittarius—two very different zodiac signs but surprisingly symbiotic. The first part of November has us exploring our feels with the Sun and Mercury transiting through the intense water sign often known for being secretive, moody, and even vengeful.
Introspection is encouraged to help you pinpoint the root of any emotional triggers to transform the pain of old grievances. Moving into the latter part of the month, the energy lightens up as we get into Sagittarius season, motivating us to embrace the wisdom gained from our most trying moments and to continue to be a light in the world.
Check out your horoscope below to see what November has in store for you!
November begins with Venus lightening up matters of the heart on the 1st. Fortune favors the bold so don't be afraid to shoot your shot. The Full Moon on the 12th helps you get clear about your worth, making this an opportune time to revise or end any contracts that aren't meeting your expectations. On the 19th, Mars moves into Scorpio encouraging you to find healthy ways to express your anger before it gets the best of you. Mercury goes direct on the 20th which helps you find the right words to express those unprocessed emotions that have been steaming beneath the surface.
On the 22nd, Sagittarius season begins, making you feel more rejuvenated than you have been in the past few months. This is a great time to get your ideas out there along with any educational or written work you want to share. Venus moves into Capricorn on the 26th and love matters get more serious. Career progression is also likely under this influence that is helping you attract more long-term wealth and success. November ends on a high note with a New Moon inviting you to satisfy your wanderlust, get passionate about your spiritual practice, and maybe even share your gems of wisdom with people that could use some motivation.
The month begins with you focused on gaining a deeper understanding about how you aren't living out your own personal truth which could involve a therapy session or some personal analysis. When it comes to love, you're attracting more inquisitive, "Can I pick your brain?" types that may be a catalyst for you to fully express who you know yourself to be. On the 12th, the Full Moon in your sign marks the big reveal. It's time to show the world what you're made of! Around the 19th, much of your energy shifts to relationships. Be mindful of passive-aggressive tendencies towards your significant other or business connections while Mars transits through Scorpio. Mercury goes direct on the 20th, helping you get in control of your communication and work out any kinks in your close connections.
Sagittarius season officially begins on the 22nd and you're feeling all the more empowered and optimistic about life—the good and especially the bad. Sometimes we have to learn our lessons the hard way and you're open to embracing the past for all that it taught you. On the 25th, Venus moves into Capricorn, attracting travel and even teaching opportunities that allow you to share your wealth of knowledge. The month comes to a close with a New Moon on the 27th, giving you that fresh start that you've been waiting for along with a new lease on life.
November begins with your attention shifting to relationships and contracts for the majority of the month. With Venus transiting through Sagittarius, it's time to shake up the energy and invite a little more excitement into these areas of your life. On the 12th, the Full Moon in Taurus enhances your intuition and dream world. A longstanding lesson or cycle you've been going through will likely come to completion if you're open to surrendering the outdated for something much better. Mars amps up your energy (and libido), while it transits through Scorpio. This is a good time to get back into the gym or burn off some stress in the bedroom. Whether you're booed up or happily single, prioritizing more pleasure in your daily routine will be beneficial.
On the 20th, Mercury goes direct helping you smooth out any difficulties within the workplace and finally getting your plans back on track. The Sun moves into wild and free Sagittarius on the 22nd. If your relationship feels stale, this is a good time to plan an adventure with bae to shake things up. On the 25th, Venus moves into Capricorn and love matters get hella serious all of a sudden. You may find yourself deepening an existing connection during the next few weeks. Conversations about sharing finances and resources are likely during this time. The month comes to an end with a bold New Moon on the 26th, inviting a more solid relationship or business agreement into the forefront.
The month begins with love and money on the brain with Venus beginning her transit through Sagittarius on the 1st. A workplace romance may invite some much-needed adventure into your life or even an opportunity to travel on behalf of your employer. The Full Moon on the 12th reveals the true intentions of those in your social circle and may have you reassessing whether some of your connections hold the same weight that they used to. On the 19th, Mars moves into Scorpio, heating up romance and enhancing your creative energy. Remember that playtime isn't just for kids. It's time to prioritize more fun in your life!
After spending a few weeks in retrograde, Mercury goes direct, making this a great time to reveal that project you've been working on behind the scenes. Family planning is also favored at this time. The Sun moves into Sagittarius on the 22nd, bringing your focus to health and wellness. Get back in the gym, try that detox, and don't forget to schedule your annual medical screening. On the 25th, Venus moves into Capricorn and you're getting serious about a commitment. Proposals and wedding bells are in the air. If love matters are kinda dry, this transit could result in a solid business contract or new job coming in for you. November winds down with a New Moon, inviting you to prioritize more of what (and who) you love.
November begins with Venus bringing the heat to matters of romance, fertility, and creativity. Mix all three together and you may have a bun in the oven before the year is over. On the 12th, the Full Moon highlights a professional achievement possibly resulting in a promotion. If you feel like your current career path isn't doing it for you, this could be a time to explore other options. Mars moves into Scorpio on the 19th, giving you the energy you need to get your living arrangements in order for the hibernation season ahead. Some of you may be planning to relocate or renovate your current space. With holiday season approaching, do your best to avoid family drama.
Mercury goes direct on the 20th, helping you to reel it in just before Thanksgiving so you don't drag everyone for filth at the dinner table. On the 22nd, Sagittarius season officially begins which brings your focus to adventure and play. It's time to tend to the desires of your inner-child or spend a little extra time with your own kids to bring more joy into your life. Venus makes her way into Capricorn on the 25th, encouraging you to buckle down and get more organized in the workspace. If you're open to love, you may be attracting someone in a position of authority at the office. The month comes to a close with a vibrant New Moon, inspiring you to dive into that creative project or express yourself more authentically in the world. It's time to let your radiant soul shine brighter than ever before.
The month begins with Venus moving into Sagittarius on the 1st, making family and home your safe haven. Beautifying your living space for the holidays is favored at this time. On the 12th, the Full Moon is a perfect time to reveal a written or educational project you've been working on behind the scenes. You could also be placed in a position to share your wisdom with those seeking guidance. Mars moves into Scorpio on the 19th, inviting you to find healthy ways to express your anger and any other unresolved emotions brooding beneath the surface. Mercury goes direct the next day, helping you to avoid "foot in the mouth" syndrome as you begin to find your voice to communicate some of your deepest feels.
Sagittarius season officially begins on the 22nd, gifting you with the holiday spirit. There's a lot going on at home during this transit as you get your space ready for entertaining family and friends. On the 25th, Venus moves into Capricorn and you're ready to get serious with someone you've been casually dating. You're also extremely magnetic for financial opportunities that allow you to share your creative side. The month comes to a close with an inspirational New Moon, encouraging you to drop the mask and start showing up as the real you amongst your family. It's up to you to create a new generational cycle that values authenticity and leadership—not just blending in with the crowd.
The month begins with your ruling planet, Venus, helping you attract good fortune and opportunities that allow you to utilize what you've been learning about—whether formally or informally. It's time to put those public speaking, writing, or social media skills to use. If you're open to love, online dating may work in your favor better than usual. On the 12th, the Full Moon liberates you from a hauntingly painful experience that damaged your self-esteem. When it comes finances, you're making a big payoff towards any debt you've incurred.
Feisty Mars moves into Scorpio on the 19th, pushing you to get your money matters in order. Reassess your financial beliefs and practices to overcome hurdles in this area. Mercury goes direct on the 20th, granting you the clarity needed to establish a plan of action towards greater material abundance. On the 22nd, Sagittarius season officially begins and you're in the mood to mingle at the upcoming holiday parties. Venus moves into Capricorn on the 25th, making you the center of attention amongst your family and the perfect host for gatherings at your home. November comes to an exciting close with a New Moon, reminding you to stop with all of the people-pleasing and start owning your truth (whether others like it or not).
Your birthday season begins with Venus blessing your finances and self-esteem. This is a perfect time to reassess if you love how you're making money and what financial freedom looks like for you. The Full Moon on the 12th can signify a revelation about a key relationship or business contract that needs some recalibrating or a final ending. On the 19th, Mars moves into your sign, making you a lot more energetic, and moodier, than usual. Find healthy ways to express your anger during this transit. Mercury goes direct the next day, offering you some relief from the muddled thoughts and feelings you've experienced over the past few weeks.
Sagittarius season officially begins on the 22nd, making you more consciously aware of your spending habits. It may be time to reel it in regardless of it being holiday season. You don't have to break the bank to show someone that you care. On the 25th, Venus moves into Capricorn, helping you wield the power of communication and social media. Investing in an online course or school will yield positive results that are preparing you for the opportunities that lie ahead. The month ends on a high note with a New Moon, gifting you some extra income through a new job or hustle. Stop sleeping on your talents and get in your bag!
November begins with Venus moving into your sign, making you even more attractive than usual. Good fortune abounds when the planet of love and money is transiting your sign. The Full Moon on the 12th may mark an ending in the workplace due to a transition into a new role, department, or company. Matters of health and wellness are also highlighted at this time as you're encouraged to resolve some habits that just don't benefit you. On the 19th, Mars moves into Scorpio, making you a lot more likely to pop off. Be mindful of projecting or clinging to unresolved emotions that are subconsciously affecting the way you express anger. Mercury extends its support when it goes direct on the 20th, helping you get clear about the root of your frustrations. Your dreams will provide even deeper insight that can help you let go of lingering resentment towards a person or situation.
Your birthday season officially begins on the 22nd and all eyes are on you. Reinvent yourself. Switch up your hairstyle. Invest in a new wardrobe. It's time to reintroduce the new and improved version of yourself to the world. On the 25th, Venus moves into Capricorn, aligning you with financial support and opportunities that get you paid for doing what you love. If you're open to romance, a more serious prospect may come into the picture. The month ends on a high note with your New Moon, inviting you to set some intentions concerning what you'd like to experience in the year ahead.
The month begins with Venus moving into the part of your sky that activates your subconscious and karma. Take some time to reflect on any beliefs or habits that restrict your financial flow and even your ability to receive the love you truly deserve. On the 12th, the Full Moon helps you see through any illusions about someone you've been casually dating. Once Venus moves into your sign later this month, you'll be more interested in taking things to the next level or putting your current prospect on the chopping block. Romance not a priority? Use this energy to wrap up that project to prepare for the big reveal.
On the 19th, Mars moves into Scorpio and much of your energy is exerted towards networking with like-minded folks. This transit can make you more short-tempered than usual, so be patient with your social circle. If you need time alone, communicate this without snapping on anyone. Mercury going direct on the 20th will help you express yourself from a more vulnerable, compassionate space. Sagittarius season officially begins on the 22nd, encouraging you to reflect about the past year while the optimistic New Moon on the 26th invites you to surrender your expectations and trust your vision.
On the 1st, Venus moves into the part of your sky that has to do with your social circle and long-term vision for your life. Use this time to re-examine if you're in alignment with your tribe or whether you're just going through the motions with a group just because there's "history". You'll know you're around the right people when the Universe starts opening up to you with new, exciting opportunities for expansion. The Full Moon on the 12th enhances your psychic abilities and dream world, granting you with clarity about the legacy you're building.
On the 19th, Mars moves into Scorpio, making you hyper-focused on your career advancement. Be mindful of power struggles with authority figures around this time. Mercury direct is here to back you up on the 20th reminding you that "it's not what you say but how you say it." The Sun moves into Sagittarius on the 22nd, encouraging you to gather with your friends to take your mind off of the stress. On the 25th, Venus moves into Capricorn helping you attract love and financial support from someone in a position of power. November ends on a high note with a New Moon on the 26th, inviting you to collaborate with those kindred souls destined to assist you in turning your vision into a reality.
November begins with Venus helping you attract good fortune and admiration in your career endeavors. On the 12th, the Full Moon places the spotlight on your social media and personal brand. People want to hear what you have to say! This is a favorable time to complete that project or educational course you've been working on. Mars, the warrior, moves into Scorpio on the 19th, encouraging you to dive deep into a topic of interest or to share your expertise with others. After spending a few weeks in retrograde, Mercury goes direct on the 20th. It's time to reveal that new blog or book you've been toiling away at. Any travel plans you're making around this time get a bit easier as well.
Sagittarius season officially begins on the 22nd and you're making quite the impression on your manager or an influential person. Developing your leadership abilities is recommended if you want to be more successful in the professional world. On the 25th, Venus moves into Capricorn. Your vibe attracts your tribe. Don't like the people you're surrounded by? Well, change it by recognizing what inner-transformation needs to take place. The month ends on a high note with a New Moon, gifting you with a promotion or recognition for a well-earned achievement.
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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 Black Women Can Get Out Of Survival Mode At Work
We've heard this same song replayed over and over again: Women are stressed and overworked, underpaid, and overlooked in the workplace. Research and everyday experiences back up this claim. And Black women face the added stress of discrimination, even lower pay, and being head of household for a large percentage of homes.
So, how can we get out of survival mode? How can we take deliberate steps to thrive? I'm a huge fan of looking at things from a balanced point of view. I refuse to wear those woe-is-me-it's-hard-being-a-Black-woman tinted glasses often sold to us by propaganda and fear mongers. Here are a few tips that helped me to finally step out of survival mode and into thrive mode:
1. Own your career choices with a mindset shift from lack to optimistic focus and discipline.
It can seem tough to radically approach your career moves as a journey filled with empowering choices, especially when bills have to be paid, and there's stress related to finances. Oftentimes, when I feel the pressure of financial responsibilities, what empowers me is a change in my outlook. I dislike feeling boxed in or forced into anything, including a job or professional role, simply out of financial need. So my mindset has to shift.
I've had to take jobs that I didn't necessarily like. I've also been underemployed before. The key was to think about the goal and focus solely on that. Whether it was to pay off a debt, tide me over while I was in a time of self-employment slump, or save up for a large purchase, focusing on the goal vs. my dislike of the actual job, helped me push through and be more strategic about my career moves.
Once I was able to meet certain goals, I found the freedom to be a bit more picky with the organizations I work with, the companies I work for, and the salary I was willing to accept. It might take a bit of time, but you can set yourself up for this freedom with strategy and focus.
The optimistic piece is key here because it's easy to fall into a cycle of thinking about the negatives of a job or career. It's also easy to fall into shame about mistakes made or about what you perceive you lack, but when you shift focus to what you can control, what you can change, what you do have, and your end goal, you're better able to really be strategic about going for the professional life and quality of work you'd like to have.
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2. Get to know what really motivates your fulfillment or happiness at work.
Do you just generally like helping people? Do you like challenging yourself intellectually? Do you love working with children or being a person of authority? Do you like being outdoors or doing work activities in nature? Do you enjoy solo work where you really don't have to interact with too many people all the time? Is your work purpose-driven or more about making lots of money? (It's totally fine to be motivated by the pursuit of financial freedom and wealth, but you must keep it real with yourself in this regard. We all play various roles in this world, and the money-makers among us are vital as well, so there's no shame in that.)
Sit down and think about these things. Write them down. If your current job or career doesn't align with what motivates you to get up and take action every day or it doesn't involve tasks that will guide you to your ultimate goal in life, consider looking for other work, going back to school to get training in something else you might be interested in doing for a living, volunteering, or taking on other projects at your current job in order to really tap into what you enjoy doing.
3. Find other fulfilling activities that fill in the gaps of dissatisfaction.
Some of us can't afford to just quit a job or give up on the years we've dedicated to a company. That's fine. If there are things about your job that are stressors or that are simply just a norm in the work you do, find other activities outside of work that allows you to have some sense of release and balance. It could be sports, spa dates, exercise, church, family time, or solo do-nothing days.
It could be starting a side business, a nonprofit, or a group for other people who have similar interests. It could be therapy or other spiritual practices. If you find you've made your job your whole life, it's a good idea to figure out a better balance so that you aren't consumed by it.
It's great to be an achiever and to do well at work, but there are other human needs that are important, too. Deliberately schedule other activities on your calendar and make them a priority so that you can start to really enjoy your career by having a balanced outlook on your role in it.
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4. Use your voice---especially if you're in a leadership position---and ask for help.
Oftentimes, it can be hard for us to simply as for the help we need. We don't want to seem inadequate, inexperienced, or, dare I say, weak. We want to seem strong, powerful, and resilient all the time. And that desire is a valid one, especially due to the discrimination and toxic systemic issues we face in the workplace.
I challenge you, though, to ask for help, anyway. If you need an assistant, ask for one. If you need time off, ask for it. If you need more time to complete a task, ask for it. Build your tribe at work and get support. Even if you feel your manager or supervisor will say no, speak up anyway.
We have to get into a practice of speaking up because the more all of us do this, the more we empower ourselves and help to shift company cultures. It's really annoying and sometimes insulting to have to justify a reasonable request for assistance, but sometimes, it must be done.
I once had to create a whole pitch just to get an intern to help with the work I had in managing projects that probably should have been split between three people, not one. I ended up getting the intern, but just having to create this whole pitch for something a leader could have used common sense to approve was a lesson in humility for sure. It was as if I had to prove I deserved an intern or help at all.
If you're a manager, delegate. Trust others to do tasks. Empower them by giving them the tools they need to fulfill certain obligations that are really distracting you from the more vital deadlines that you need to meet. Being a superwoman is just not realistic, and to be honest, it's a farce. A true leader serves and is able to give others a chance to be leaders within their own right. You can let someone else shine without dimming your own light.
And managers, speak up for more efficient work processes, better ways to communicate, equal pay, and better protocols that put workers who offer amazing talent and time first. If you have to take baby steps to do this, do it, even if you must align yourself with a privileged ally or seek legal counsel. Again, change in terms of the fight to survive in a career or thrive in one can be sparked with one action from many of us.
5. Quit. Yes, just let that job go.
Burnout is nothing to play with, and it can literally affect your physical health. If you find that you're always mentally exhausted, are oftentimes depressed or angry, or you're coping with work-related stress through overeating or over-indulging in other ways, it's time to take a full stop. If you're literally at your wit's end and you have the family or other support to resign, do it. Talk to your family, a counselor, or a mentor, and take the steps to prep for an exit.
I'd had a point in my life where professional burnout literally led to a mental breakdown. I was in my early 30s at the time. I was overweight, drinking a lot, angry all the time, and wasn't sleeping well. I was working all the time as well, and I was not enjoying my life anymore. I called my mom. "There's something wrong. I cannot function. Ma, it's getting bad. I cannot do this anymore." She simply replied, "Come home."
I felt ashamed and like a failure, but looking back, several years later, it was the best decision of my life. My mom, stepfather, and grandmother really helped me during a tough time. I cashed out my 401K, got on unemployment, and rebuilt. I found love, bought a car (in cash, sis!), went to therapy, moved into my dream home, traveled, and made more money than I had when I was at that previous job where I'd experienced burnout. (I found balance again, both emotionally and mentally, and I felt like myself again.)
If you have the support, tap into it. Use all resources afforded to you to be able to take some time off to get out of survival mode. Change your environment.
And maybe your "letting go" doesn't even include quitting outright. Focusing on the positive outcomes, explain to your HR department or manager, and ask to take a sabbatical. During the break---where your job would still be waiting for you upon your return---map out what you want out of your career, what gives you joy, and what it will take to get your finances in order. Let go of the shame and get the help you need.
As Black women, we deserve all the best life has to offer, and while we must work hard and continue to challenge ourselves, we must also find fulfillment and joy within our career journeys. I hope these tips will help many of you take back your life and thrive.
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