Twenty-five—including eight in one day. That's the number of times he called me in a week. He left no voicemail, sent no text, let alone an email. Nothing. He just kept calling me, at inappropriate times of the day and night, all while I was attempting to get some rest on my week off. "He" was one of my clients that I'd been working with for a little while and was recently forced to let go of because of his toxic behavior.
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The phone calls episode represented just a small—and soft—portion of the things he was capable of doing. Even though the several women who preceded me had warned me about him, I was surprised when he showed me his true colors for the first time, which was weeks after we began working together. Mind you, it's not that I didn't believe these women, but as a newly self-employed creative and personal assistant, I needed to secure my bags. Working with him seemed to be a good opportunity at the time. It would allow me to make a decent living doing assistant work for 16 hours per week while still giving me plenty of time to focus on creating—the latter being the most important part to me. Because of that, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. At worst, I'd get to see his toxic behaviors for myself.
Quite frankly, it wasn't the best decision to make. Take it from me, where there is smoke, there's definitely fire. Had I learned my lessons from the reasons that pushed me to quit my 9 to 5 back in 2019, I wouldn't have put myself in a position to be burnt in the first place. And yet, here I was, trapping myself into the same cycle again.
The first time he acted out of line was when he yelled at me as though I was his child. As a matter of fact, my father has never addressed me in such a manner. On the days this client was more irritable than usual—which became more frequent as time went by—what helped me keep my composure was repeating to myself that it wasn't personal. "Perhaps he's in a bad mood or perhaps he's bothered by something I'm unaware of," I'd think. Either way, what I knew for sure was that it wasn't my fault, I never did anything wrong, and I was extremely cautious not to allow self-doubt to rear its ugly head again.
Once people like this 40-something-year-old man succeed to make you question yourself and your actions—when they succeed to get to the heart of your mind and soul by testing your limits and shaking you off balance—that's exactly when you know they've gained control over you. From there, you can be sure that you are losing or have already lost your power.
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Another huge red flag was when he tried to negotiate my hourly rate after we'd already agreed on one when I was first hired. How did I suddenly become too much of an expensive cost to him and his business, and how could he say that I shouldn't be "the only one gaining from us working together"? Sir, did you not need me? The moment I completely lost it and found the courage to tell him that I wouldn't work with him anymore was after extremely disrespectful words came out of his mouth about my passion for writing.
Let me explain.
While he was attempting to make me lower my prices, he was also trying to have me spend more time working with him which wasn't feasible for me. The only reason I offer PA services is that I must make ends meet. It's not because I enjoy it—at all. When I kindly told him that I didn't have the bandwidth to dedicate 10 extra hours of my time to him and his endeavors, he joined the list of the most condescending folks I've ever come across in my entire life. "If you only come here to collect your coins and keep doing your little businesses on the side," he responded, "then I'm not interested."
Truth be told, what he said didn't hit me right away. It only did a couple of minutes later when I began feeling uneasy in my gut while I was driving back home. It was the kind of uneasy feeling that manifests itself when you're faced with unfairness and nonsense. The kind of uneasy feeling that leaves you at loss for words wondering, 'Did he really just say that?' It's the kind of uneasy feeling that leads you to explain the situation to your loved ones and ask them for confirmation that you're not crazy.
I spoke with three women in my family on that day. Each expressed the same reaction when I laid out the facts, and they all gave me the same piece of advice: Ask for your due and leave. Now.
I knew that terminating our work arrangement was the right thing to do, even if it meant that I was giving up on my biggest source of income in the middle of a pandemic when bills are piling up and jobs are difficult to find. With that said, two years ago, I promised myself that I would never allow my professional life to dim my light ever again. It's just not worth it.
Tapping Into My Masculine Energy
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While I'd consider myself a confident woman most of the time, I must admit that one of my weaknesses is that it's easy for others to manipulate me into thinking that I'm not good enough. When my client first began negotiating my rate, my immediate reaction was to revise my prices and calculate the minimum I needed to earn so I could survive. I was willing to sacrifice myself just to help him save a few bucks. Let me tell you, sis, this is not how you want to do business. Just like in love, you are the prize in this case, and you must act accordingly.
It's your clients that need you, not the other way around. And if they ever try to flip the script and tell you how much you're worth, then tap into your masculine energy so much that they start feeling bad for thinking that they had the permission to fill in your price tag themselves in the first place.
Self-confidence is key in general, we all know that. But it's even more important to embody it when you're your own boss. No external factor should be able to shake the foundation of your business—you, for instance—to the point it ultimately collapses.
The moment I tapped into my masculine energy, my mindset changed. So, when my client told me for the umpteenth time that he's going to "spend less if he hires an assistant through a certain organization," I responded that it was his choice to make. One thing I wasn't going to do was sell myself to death. You either want me or you don't, period.
Believe me or not, he never discussed my rate again from that moment. I'd won—and I knew that I was going to because he needed me.
Putting My Eggs In Multiple Baskets
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A fellow freelancer once told me, "I'd rather work with several clients that make me earn a small amount of money each than making a ton from working with only two big clients." It's probably one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given in business.
Even if this client was my biggest source of income, it wasn't that big of an issue to stop working with him because I still had other streams of income. Of course, my income significantly decreased but fortunately, money was still coming in—enough for me to at least pay my bills. Imagine if I did grant him his request for those 10 extra hours. That means I would've lost even more money in the end. I probably wouldn't have been able to walk away at all.
Building Myself A Financial Safety Net
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Building yourself a financial safety net isn't easy, I know. I know the struggle of not having a penny left to save when the end of the month approaches, let alone the difficulty of choosing between living your life to the fullest or eating every day. Trust me, I've been there and done that, both while living on my own and as a child when my parents got divorced and my mother could barely afford us to be alive anymore. However, you know how the saying goes, "Nothing worth having comes easy," and the older I get, the more I understand the importance of building ourselves a financial safety net. Especially in such uncertain times when we're forced to operate in sink or swim mode.
Had I not stacked all the money I earned for a year—which I must thank the pandemic for—I probably wouldn't have been able to walk away from such a comfortable and secure income. Since March 2020, we've all been stuck at home, forbidden to travel or entertain ourselves doing anything that would normally involve spending a lot where I live, and I'd been transferring all the money that I earn to my savings account. As of now, taking into consideration the loan I have to pay off, rent, and less significant bills, I can survive for at while without working. Needless to say, it's a pretty big amount that I managed to save, although probably less than you think since life is kind of cheaper in Europe. Every day, I'm tempted to spoil myself and surrender to my need for luxury, but I don't.
As self-employed women, we remain in boss mode at all times. We cannot afford to ignore our budgets and let money burn holes in our pockets. We must keep in mind our plans for the future and anticipate any financial disasters that may come our way. Self-employment is a synonym for freedom, but freedom is expensive.
I make sure to never lose sight of that.
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The most Gemini woman you'll ever meet. Communications & community enthusiast, I run a media platform centered around spirituality, and I'm always looking to connect with fellow creatives. Follow me on Instagram & Twitter @savannahtaider
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.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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