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5 Self-Care Gems To Keep In Mind On Your Professional Journey

Workin' Girl

Lately I've been feeling the pressure of making my side hustle my MAIN hustle, maximizing my time, and building a community. I've even made it a point to make sure I'm creating content everyday and posting on the 'gram. My thinking was that I should use whatever time I had available to create content, working on my brand every minute I get. I say all this to say, passion, a little insecurity, and impatience will drive you into work overload if you let it.


It got to a point where I would wake up and just feel sad about the way things turn out. I would put in all of this work and still feel stuck, and I questioned if I should even still be doing this. Then it trickled into being over-critical, unsatisfied, and just mentally and emotionally out of it. Insecurities can make you think some crazy things. So I had to take a step back and allow myself to gain some new perspective, information, and inspiration.

Earlier this month, I attended Blavity's Summit21 conference in Atlanta (which I'm still on a high from) and I think that was what I needed to get me back into a healthy, clear, but productive state of mind. The conference featured a variety of successful and inspirational black women from different industries: Karleen Roy, Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, Pinky Cole, Tina Knowles-Lawson, Karrueche Tran, and so much more. The abundance of love, information, and inspiration was truly amazing. In just two days, I was able to get my physical, professional, and emotional self all on one accord again.

Managing a business, building a brand, or achieving any professional goal can be tough, so attending a talk that focused on confidence, self-care, and finding your voice was the affirmation I needed. Here are some self-care gems to keep in mind while on your journey.

Remember Your Voice

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Remember who you were when you were a child, know who you were, what you were like, and what you did for fun. For some of us, as children, we navigated without fear and saw limitless possibilities. We were dreamers and had a sense of wonder of the world. It also starts the story of who we are and what our voice was. Getting in-tune and reintroducing your adult self to your younger self is a great start for finding your voice.

Be Kind To Your Mind + Body

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This topic has so many umbrellas and in my experience, it's been echoed by so many people. One essential habit that needs to go is the team "no sleep" lifestyle. Sleep allows us to find balance, dream, and physically and mentally recharge. Giving yourself the time to dream and just be is very important when it comes to finding inspiration, especially for creatives.

Advocate For Yourself

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As black women, we've been conditioned not to advocate for ourselves or each other. A key to leveling up, period, is to gain confidence, understand that you are whole and complete, and show up as yourself every day. Make a decision on who you want to be and who you align with emotionally, professionally, and mentally. Be with people who align with your goals and allow yourself to show up in different spaces.

Create Boundaries

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This topic is when it got real for me. Boundaries are essential for every relationship and as much as we want to deny it, we can't do everything for everybody. It's important to know your bandwidth. It's essential to know when you can give and when you cannot. It's okay to say no. People will get upset when you don't live up to the expectations they've set for you but it's important to know what's a full body yes and an absolute no.

"If it's not a full body yes, it's an absolute no." - Dr. Crystal Jones

It's important to be open, expansive and receiving, but if it doesn't feel like a safe space to be that, then reconsider how it aligns with your body, mind, and soul and don't be afraid to say no.

Practice Mindfulness

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Mindfulness by definition is the mental state that requires you to focus on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

We've been conditioned to think multitasking is a trait of productivity but it's anything but that. Focusing on one thing allows us to have "radical presence and allowance" and it fosters a sense of vulnerability to that moment in time. It actually allows us to tune into ourselves and take in the value and inspiration of a particular moment. Practicing mindfulness also requires you to be silent with yourself. It guides you to a space where you can get to know who you are and allows you to get to know your own thoughts rather than be afraid of it.

"What if there is nothing else to be than who you are?" - Dr. Crystal Jones

It's easy to get caught up in how things should look, so instead, focus on what's here and what's now.

Featured image by Getty Images

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Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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