For Instagram lifestyle and wellness influencer, Vic Styles, this isn't the life that she planned for herself. In fact, it just might be better than she could have ever imagined, "My dreams created the path for where I am today, but I don't think that I could have even fathomed what my life would be like." When you wander into the corner of the internet that Vic has crafted, there's a certain peace that absorbs you, a sense of tranquility that, as many Black women can attest to, is earned through tough lessons and radical self-choosing.
For Vic Styles, the very act of declaring her pursuits through the amalgamation of her passions points towards a life of liberation. Free from outside pressures, only leaving the evidence of her calling.
Coming of age in an analog era where there were no monikers like, "influencer" or even "content creator," conceiving a life centered around this thing called "the internet" would challenge even the most imaginative of dreamers. Still, one thing that has always stood the test of time for Vic was her ever-evolving and innate personal style, "I've always loved fashion. I kept this notebook where my mom would take Polaroid pictures of what I would wear so that I wouldn't repeat the same outfit within a two to three week period." Call it a mini lookbook of #OOTDs before there ever was a name for it, if you will.
Although Vic's early days as an inventive teen and young adult pointed her in the direction of pursuing a life in fashion, her ar family upbringing encouraged structure and tradition as fundamental aspects for her post-grad endeavors. "My whole life I had expressed this interest in fashion, I was always creative, but my family never really took the time to hone that." Still, her smartness of style never fell from her gaze.
Courtesy of Vic Styles
During Vic's senior year of college, she made a drastic and intuitive pivot. "I had a 3.6 GPA, I was in all honors classes, but I just wasn't feeling it, so I dropped out. I had four more classes to graduate, but I walked out." Despite her parent's disappointment and dismay, she knew that her inner compass was guiding her to something greater. "I felt something in my spirit that was like, 'This is not where I'm meant to be. My parents completely cut me off, basically they were like, 'If you're gonna be grown, you're gonna be grown for real.' So I learned what struggle was. I was broke, I had to live on people's couches. I had to make big sacrifices, but it was all worth it."
Vic's journey displays high risk, with a significant return.
Now, the self-declared Freelance Life-Liver continues to carve out new worlds on the internet with her blooming love life, sustainability journey, and co-hosted podcast, Kontent Queens! Proving that your best life will always be the one you decide to choose for yourself.
xoNecole: When you were facing difficult times in LA, what kept you going in those moments?
Vic Styles: I think there was a lot of divine intervention on my behalf. When I first moved there, I had found these girls on Craigslist to live with; I had no friends, no money, and no family. I showed up at this apartment with these girls who I only knew from the internet, I mean, this could have been a scam, and thank God it wasn't. I got an internship there with a really famous celebrity stylist and became her assistant. Then I met my next boss and became her assistant. Then I stepped out on my own based on the connections that I had made as an assistant. But the timing of everything had to be divine because it wasn't within my power to have these things line up the way they did. Every time I felt like giving up, something good would happen, so I knew I couldn't give up because that was my sign.
Courtesy of Vic Styles
xoN: Now, you’re a self-proclaimed “Freelance Life-Liver.” Where did the inspiration behind this title come from and how were you able to take agency of this self-declaration? It sounds like freedom!
VS: Yes, it is freedom! The title came when people would ask me, "What do you do?" while I was still in the midst of styling and being an influencer. I was honestly like, "I'm freelance and I get paid to live my life." And that's still how I look at it. I know the term influencer isn't what a lot of people want to be associated with because of its negative connotation: "Oh, you're superficial, you're inauthentic." Part of it was disassociating myself from that. I want people to feel that when you come to the space that I've carved out for myself on the internet, you see these pieces of my life.
Yes, sometimes brands pay me to talk about their products, but the things I talk about naturally integrate into my life already. When you see me on the internet, I hope that you see a woman living in joy and being herself.
xoN: As a content creator, you have a focus in wellness. What was the turning point in your life that led you on your wellness and sustainability journey?
VS: When I think about wellness, I think about it from a holistic aspect. You can't be well if your mind, body, and spirit aren't well; everything has to be well. I was really depressed five years ago; I didn't want to eat, I considered suicide, I was in a place when I didn't love myself, I didn't even know myself. So I picked up a book by Alex Elle called Words from a Wanderer and everything she was talking about in this book from seeing yourself to forgiving yourself blew my mind. It started me on the journey of saying nice things to myself, but I couldn't just say it, now I had to do nice things and feed myself nice things. This carried into skincare and what I put on my hair and I started to treat myself how I wanted other people to be treated.
As far as sustainability, I was broke. I had to shop at thrift stores, I had to reuse things! Being sustainable started from a lack of money and resources and me having to be resourceful on my own
xoN: You speak a lot about originality on your podcast and how important it is for content creators to not try to be “the next so and so.” How were you able to stand out to brands and find your own authentic identity?
VS: I don't think it comes from finding it, I think it comes from tuning in and tuning everything and everyone else out. I don't spend a lot of time on the internet on other people's pages, and I know that sounds strange, but that's when I feel myself swaying in another direction. I spend a lot of time in self-reflection: I read, I write, I go on trips, I spend a lot of time by myself getting to know the things that I naturally like. If no one else was out there, if no one else could impact my likes or dislikes, what would I naturally gravitate towards?
And those are the questions I ask myself before when I put things on the internet, am I doing this because Victoria, at home, when no one is watching would really do this, or am I doing this because the world is watching?
"I spend a lot of time in self-reflection… getting to know the things that I naturally like. If no one else was out there, if no one else could impact my likes or dislikes, what would I naturally gravitate towards?"
Courtesy of Vic Styles
xoN: Your new podcast, Kontent Queens, is a space where content creators can glean insight into all things social media! What led you (and co-host, Kia Marie) to collaborate on this new endeavor in the audio space?
VS: It was actually Kia's idea. She approached me in summer 2019 and I was down for the cause. She's someone that I really respect and look up to in this space and we just felt like this needed to be done. There are so many creative spaces, classes, workshops for women that don't look like us. And we needed to fill that space. I think I can speak for Kia saying that we didn't have help. There was no roadmap for us and it's still fairly new. So if we can help other Black women in some shape or form, that's our due diligence.
xoN: On Kontent Queens, you and Kia don’t hold back on the gems. How did you all decide to take an abundance approach in the information you share on the podcast; especially in an industry that can be so individualistic?
VS: Purpose. I think Kia and I have a purpose to inspire and motivate, specifically our people. When you operate out of abundance and give back to people, it comes back to you tenfold. There's room for all of us. This is a community effort, community means everything to us and it can't be a community if there's just two of us at the top. We need all y'all too! It's a party, pull up!
"This is a community effort, community means everything to us and it can't be a community if there's just two of us at the top. We need all yall too, it's a party, pull up!"
xoN: When you envision the community you are shaping with the podcast, what does a safe and inclusive space for Black women look like to you?
VS: We would have more creative authority, we would be valued. We would be seen and heard more. We could be paid more, there would be no tokenism. It looks like equality across the board.
xoN: Even though the pandemic has been a challenging time to navigate, you actually found love just days before the nation shut down in a “shoot your shot” kind of way. Could you tell us more about that?
VS: Yes! I was out to eat with my homegirl and went to the bathroom and I walked past this guy who gave me the stare of life. I'm sitting behind him and he's turning around the whole brunch looking at me. So before I left, I wrote my number down on a napkin and said, "Text me if you want later." And he did! We've seen each other every day since March 11.
xoN: They say relationships are like holding a mirror up to yourself. What have you personally learned about yourself through this relationship?
VS: That I am worthy of love. Fair love. Good love. Unconditional love. I think before this relationship, it always felt like I was in these battles with men. It always felt like I was trying to get them to see me and appreciate me and it was never working out. I was always that girl that felt like once I get a man to see how great I am, then he'll reciprocate and it never happened. Because at the time, I don't even think I even realized my worth.
So I've had someone come in who shows and tells me just how worthy I am, even more than I imagined I was. He's my partner; anything I need he does, but he tells me no and tells me when I'm wrong. It's also special to be around someone and them not get on your nerves. I grew up [as] an only child, so I need a lot of space. I have to be alone a lot, so the fact that we can vibe and be together all day speaks volumes for me.
xoN: What was the healing process like for you to get to a place where you could receive the love that was for you?
VS: I've been in therapy for over a year now, and girl, it has changed my life! More importantly than that, I'm 34 and I just got saved. I have never in my life identified as Christian until now and I think that has also helped change the relationship I have with myself and my partner.
"There's no way for me to mess up whatever is meant for me. Maybe I needed that lesson, maybe that bad thing needed to happen so it could mold and shape me into the woman I am today. I have to let go and let God."
Courtesy of Vic Styles
xoN: One of your life mantras is “You can’t mess up your destiny.” What were the experiences in your life that led you to this lesson?
VS: I felt like I made a lot of mistakes when I was younger, or at least that's what I was told. They'd say, "You're so smart, why'd you drop out of college? You shouldn't have done this or that." And as life kept happening and blessings kept falling into my lap, I kept saying to myself that even if I make a bad decision, I'll learn from it and grow from it. There's no way for me to mess up whatever is meant for me. Maybe I needed that lesson, maybe that bad thing needed to happen so it could mold and shape me into the woman I am today. If something is a no, it's for a reason, and that may not be revealed to me until much, much later, but I have to let go and let God.
Featured image courtesy of Vic Styles
Originally published on February 15, 2021
Aley Arion is a writer and digital storyteller from the South, currently living in sunny Los Angeles. Her site, yagirlaley.com, serves as a digital diary to document personal essays, cultural commentary, and her insights into the Black Millennial experience. Follow her at @yagirlaley on all platforms!
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September is National Self-Care Awareness Month, so for my girlies who have been putting off self-care, here’s your opportunity to start. Self-care means exactly what it says: taking care of self. Why is it important? Well, many of us have busy lives that may include careers, family, and activities that consume us daily. Taking some time for self regularly can help prevent depression, stress, anxiety, and burnout.
In February 2023, Future Forum polled 10,243 people in six countries, including the U.S., and 40% said they are experiencing burnout, and 46% of that number are women. According to CNBC, many factors contributing to burnout include companies demanding employees return to the office, hiring freezes, and layoffs.
Psychologist Debbie Sorensen explained to CNBC why women and millennials are experiencing burnout in higher numbers. “We haven’t had time to recover from the trauma of what we’ve been through the last few years,” she said. “Women and young people, in particular, are putting an immense amount of pressure on themselves to keep going, keep working, no matter the cost.”
As women, particularly Black women, we tend to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. Other people's problems become our problems, and then we are expected to show up to work and show up for our family and friends with a smile on our faces. Whew, chile! What if we are having a bad day? How are we supposed to cope if we have to be everything to everyone? Well, here’s your sign to make time for yourself, especially on the days when you are feeling down.
Below is a list of self-care ideas for when you are having a bad day.
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Spend time in nature
Sometimes something as simple as surrounding yourself with trees, grass, and/ or water can improve your mood exponentially. The American Psychological Association’s (APA) research shows that spending time in nature can improve attention, lower stress, and reduce the risk of psychiatric disorders.
Got to a Spa
There’s nothing like going to a spa. You can relax in a sauna, get a massage, and just be. According to research, massages help release serotonin and dopamine, which are often referred to as “feel good” hormones, that will instantly perk you up and have you going about your day with a smile on your face.
When was the last time you did arts and crafts? Drawing a picture, painting, or even coloring can help you discover your inner child, thus boosting your mood. Purchase an adult coloring book, or go to a paint-and-sip class by yourself, or you can make it a group activity and bring your besties.
Look your best
The old saying, “When you look good, you feel good,” didn’t just come out of thin air. There’s some truth to it. The Kentucky Counseling Center shared a link between self-care and feeling good. “Self-care regimens are extremely important not just to stabilize your day but to make you feel great. Simple things like getting a facial, taking care of your hair done, or exercising can make you confident because when you look good, you also feel good,” according to its website.
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There’s a reason why it is suggested that you breathe when you begin feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. Breathing brings oxygen back into your body, and WebMD reports that it can decrease the fight or flight response that happens when you are stressed.
Spend time with babies
I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me smile quicker than a baby, especially a smiling baby. If you’re the same way, then spending time with a baby or babies may help put you in a better mood, too.
Last but certainly not least, do nothing. There’s nothing like laying in your bed and not being forced to do anything. Stay in this moment and use this time to relax and replenish your energy.
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