Nothing stings at your confidence quite like being underestimated, underserved and cast out in work spaces you thought you'd grow in and acknowledged your worth. And there's no formal education or amount of money that makes this hard truth any less real for black women.
I remember the moment I first experienced this during my last year of college at my internship in features news writing with a notable media company. I was elated for the position and worked 9 AM-4 PM without a lunch break and after hours as needed. Despite my excitement on the inside, I quickly learned to contain it on the outside. No one talked to each other – or at least to me.
I said "good morning" to my supervisor and cube neighbor, but no one else even made eye contact with me unless it was necessary.
A month into my internship, an editor finally acknowledged me to write an article. She introduced herself but stared at me, confused by my presence as the only black woman on the floor. She immediately asked if I had any writing experience (duh, that's how I landed this internship), where I was originally from and what school I went to. When I proudly said my HBCU of Morgan State University, she curled her lips as a sign of the official "aha, there's the deficit I was looking for" and said, "Yeah, I was there the other day to talk to a few students, it seems like no one really knows how to read or write, like there's not a lot of education on communications there."
I let her comment roll off my shoulder and went to WORK on my writing assignment to show my value.
And it worked – I landed on the web cover page and received compliments throughout the department. But this didn't last long. One of the interviewees called and complained that I mixed up a location venue she was at. I had the actual interview recording to prove that the location was correct, however the editor said to not worry about it and she'd "clean up" the situation.
I went on to write other stories, but on my last week at the internship, I overheard the editor talking to another staff writer that she couldn't see me working long-term with the company if I was already having issues fact-checking. And just like that, any chance I had of staying in the department was tarnished. I never returned, but the effects this experience had on my self-esteem were lasting. I wondered why I was being punished so harshly for a misunderstanding, and why one single incident trumped all the other work I'd done.
Unfortunately, this was not my last encounter of implicit bias. I continued to have work projects overlooked or called out on for their errors, was left out of social conversations and viewed as "not enough," and I soon learned of its commonality. A 2018 Women in The Workplace report from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. found that 40% of black women stated that they've had their judgement questioned in their area of expertise. Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect an individual's understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious matter.
We know we're the office outliers, but despite this, a 2019 Catalyst report found that 88% of black women wanted to remain in the same organization, 87% wanted to be an influential leader and 81% were working towards a high ranking position.
So, what do we do when we still want a piece of the pie?
Know That Nothing Is Wrong With You
Someone else's misperception of you does not define who you are and the value you add. Do not doubt your work and your capabilities.
It can be difficult to believe in yourself when no one else does, but it's at this time you need to douse yourself in love from within. Start your morning with daily affirmations that speak to your soul. Set daily reminders on your phone with uplifting quotes to remind yourself of all that you are.
Still Use Your Voice – With A Nice Nasty!
Reports show that 35% black women feel like their managers create opportunities to showcase their work compared to 43% of white women. Furthermore, 22% of black women reported they often had their work contributions ignored.
Your voice and thoughts are still powerful, so continue to empower yourself to address issues in your office.
And, don't be too humble to be what I call the "nice nasty". Trust, when you "unconsciously" do to people what they're "unconsciously" doing to you, they get the picture. If someone asks if you need help on an assignment that is clearly in your expertise already, ask them if they need help with something they're doing. You'll both be surprised by their reaction.
Get Involved In Employee Resource Groups Or Create One
Diversity isn't just about checking the box, but providing tools and opportunities for inclusion to really include everyone. Employee resource groups (ERG's) are employer-recognized groups of employees who share the concerns of common race, gender, national origin or sexual orientation. These groups are intended to enhance the employee experience and when done right, should lead to developmental opportunities for your group.
If diversity and inclusion and ERG's are not being properly recognized at your job, there's bound to be someone you can connect with for social support.
Plan Your Next Move
The realism is your work culture of implicit bias may not change. If you recognize this and find yourself unhappy, unsatisfied and underserved, then it's time to move on. While it may be frustrating to get back up in the saddle, you deserve to be in a space that uplifts, encourages and values what you bring to the table. Your voice matters!
Featured image by Getty Images
- Successfully Navigate Work Environment - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Signs A Company Is Values Diversity - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Unhappy At Work? Signs It's Time To Leave Your Job - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Kamala Harris Thinks Women Not Returning To The Workforce Is A Crisis – But Is It? - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
Take Our 2-Minute Wellness Quiz To Up Your Self-Care Game!
Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
Welcome to Black Girl Whole, your space to find the wellness routine that aligns with you! This brand-new marketplace by xoNecole is a safe space for Black women to activate their healing, find the inspiration to rest, and receive reassurance that we are one small act away from finding our happiness.
Want to discover where you are on your wellness journey? You don't have to look far. In partnership with European Wax Center, we're bringing you a customized wellness quiz to help you up your wellness game. Answer our short series of questions to figure out which type of wellness lover you are, what you need to bring more balance into your life, and then go deeper by shopping products geared towards clearing your mind, healing your body, and soothing your spirit.
Ready to get whole? Take our quiz now!
Masturdating & Why You Need More Of It In Your Life
“Just date yourself” could easily be crowned as the worst advice you could impart to a single woman. The all-too-common expression has become blanket advice for us dating folks and is typically met with eye-rolls and dismissal. In most cases, it’s coupled with the dash of “just work on yourself” and a sprinkle of “let love find you,” leaving some to believe that love enters our lives when we’re on the offense.
But in recent times, the conversation surrounding dating yourself has been reclaimed to mean something that’s less about turning ourselves into a DIY project and more about making time to give ourselves the love, attention, and quality time that we desire.
Masturdating & What Exactly Is Solo Dating
Solo dating, otherwise known as masturdating — as Urban Dictionary defines it, is the act of “going out alone” and enjoying one's own company without the presence of a romantic partner. The method is all about taking the time to explore your interests and passions while discovering acts of self-love that truly make your heart flutter.
While popular culture has made singleness out to be a sort of loveless life sentence, solo dating takes the focus from outward expectations to an inward commitment. It can be a liberating and empowering experience for women to go on solo dates, especially if they’re used to putting their own needs and desires aside for the sake of others.
When you participate in going on solo dates, you in turn, learn to appreciate and enjoy your own company, build self-confidence, and develop a stronger sense of self-awareness.
How Do You Go on a Solo Date?
Solo dates can take many different forms, depending on one's interests and preferences. For example, some women may enjoy going to a museum or art gallery on their own, while others may prefer taking a solo hike in nature or trying out a new restaurant.
Whatever your speed is, the key to a successful solo date is to approach it with an open mind and a positive attitude. Sans the lonely girl energy. Why? Because there’s no shame in being single and exercising the muscles of treating yourself.
Many single women understand that there’s no real substitute for romantic love when your desire is to be in a loving relationship. However, solo dates help you to stay in the practice of hopeful anticipation and set the standard for when you begin to get courted by potential suitors.
It’s not always about overindulgence and buying your way to the contentment of singlehood; but more so about taking the focus away from finding “the one” and creating moments with yourself that remind you that regardless of your relationship status, you are always the number one priority in your life.
So if you're feeling hesitant or unsure about solo dating and where to start, we’ve put together a list of four steps you can take to connect to master your dating needs through masturdating.
1. Start with some personal foreplay.
There’s nothing like getting yourself in the mood and the right headspace to take yourself out on the town. To prepare your mind for your solo date, start by taking a relaxing shower and follow up with your favorite body care and makeup routine. Light a candle. Play your favorite playlist and speak affirmations and compliments to yourself. Tell yourself how beautiful you look in that dress you’re wearing and how you single-handedly beat your soft-glam look to the gods.
The moments you have with yourself before your date are just as important as the date itself, so be your perfect hype woman.
2. Make plans in advance.
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with a spontaneous date night, but if you’re a girl who loves an itinerary or is new to the solo dating world, you’ll want to plan in advance. Setting a date on the calendar for when you want to take yourself out not only gets you excited for the night but sets the standard that if you or any man wants to get the most out of your time, they’ll have to make the time. Set a reservation 24-48 hours in advance. Plan out your itinerary. Know the showtime for the movie you’re headed to. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
3. Be open to something new.
If you’re taking yourself out on a solo date, congratulations! You’re already taking the first step to breaking out of your comfort zone and trying something completely new. The first few times you take yourself out, it will feel awkward and unfamiliar, but you’re getting the experience of dating yourself while gaining the experience of a new restaurant, cooking class, concert, or museum too. And once you’ve gotten over the discomfort and conquered your fears, all those nervous butterflies that come with a first date will be a little easier to manage.
4. Come home and reflect.
What feelings were brought up while you were out? Was the night a success? Did you strike up a conversation with someone at the bar? Journaling is an essential tool to use while solo dating to discover new layers of yourself. When you take the time to reflect on the personal time and dating experience that you had, you’re able to get a visual of what your core values are, what new things you learned about yourself, and even script what the perfect date night would look like when love enters your life.
Not to mention, it gives you the space to show gratitude for your single season because it deserves to be celebrated too.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by DragonImages/Getty Images