The Effects of Microaggression

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~Trigger Warning~
If you’re easily offended, then don’t continue to read this post. I’m going to assume if you keep reading from this point on that you can handle it. I don’t want to have to delete or block anyone who decides to leave a nasty comment. Please let this be your warning and know if I see any hateful comments, I’ll remove them. I’m all for having constructive discussions, but I won’t tolerate any bullying on my platform. Okay, now on with the show!

By now, I’m sure you have either seen or heard about the interview that Oprah had with Harry and Meghan. Don’t worry; I’m not going to do a full recap on it as you can research that on your own if you like. I want to highlight a point made and use that as a basis of this post today—the topic of microaggression is prevalent throughout the interview. I saw countless people say online, why didn’t Kate speak up and clear the air since the tabloids got the story all wrong. Yes, you can make the argument that Kate was under the same pressure as Meghan, and she was unable to speak up. However, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and say even if she could speak up; I doubt that she would. It benefited Kate for the media to go after Meghan. At that point, a light bulb went off in my head. Is this the same thought some white women have when they do this to black women in the workplace? Are you triggered yet? I said to stop reading, but since you’re here, hear me out before you go nuclear on me.

The example of microaggression that I’m going to use in this post is related to the workplace. Of course, this in no way invalidates the other instances different people may face. Microaggression impacts many people in a variety of ways. I would be dishonest if I discussed an example in this post that I don’t personally have a frame of reference. I sympathize with Meghan so much in that Kate situation because the same thing happened to me years ago. I had people come to me one on one to defend me, but when I needed it, most of those same people were silent. I only needed one person to come to my aid, but I never received that support.

I learned a lot from that situation and ensured that I’ll never be in that position ever again. There are so many stereotypes that black women deal with daily at work. For example, if my voice goes up an octave, I can be labeled aggressive, and if I’m too forthcoming on a project, I can be deemed difficult at work. Couple this with the fact of me being a direct person, I was mislabeled often. Also, before someone says, maybe it was me, and microaggression isn’t real. I had a manager who is a white man tell me if I were white, this wouldn’t have been an issue. I had to do a lot of internal work to get to the person I am today. I couldn’t beat the system, so I had to learn how to play the game to further my career. It was necessary to change parts of myself to lessen the impact that microaggression would’ve had on my work life.

Now the concept of code-switching comes into play. That is how I survive in corporate America after all these years. Let me break down code-switching if you aren’t familiar with the term. It means to conform to your particular environment. For example, I noticed how people spoke, topics of interest, and the most notable projects at work that would garner the most awareness. I needed to be a team player and not labeled as a threat to the organization—any and every opportunity that came my way; I took advantage. I continue to wear this mask at work because I know what happens if I experience the other label. That is an experience I don’t want to deal with again, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Honestly, I wonder at times what the cost is? Do people like the real me or the person that I’m choosing to portray? That doesn’t mean I’m a horrible person to be around—quite the opposite. I’m a handful but the most fun you’ll ever have in your life. I understand it’s a professional environment; however, I’m not a robot. But I feel that to survive at work, I had to become a caricature of what would allow me to become accepted. I’m unable to show up as myself as it’s deemed unworthy due to being different. That is the downside of microaggression. It makes it so you can’t show up as your authentic self due to preconceived notions.

That explains why some people decide to work for themselves because they’re tired of pretending. Working in an environment where everyone looks and acts the same is tiring. That completely goes against the idea of diversity. There can’t be true diversity of thought if one person being different threatens everything to collapse. If you see something, you have to call it out. Things will never get better if people continue on the sidelines and let things slide. There is a thing called reciprocity in life, and if I’m not getting it from you, then don’t expect it from me. When something happens to you, but you weren’t interested in helping others, don’t have your hand out now. I’m grateful for this blog because I would go crazy otherwise. Until I can start my own, this is my creative outlet to get out what I want when I can’t say it in other places. I hope you walk away from this post, knowing microaggression is factual, and code-switching is a slippery slope to nowhere. Avoid at all costs and remove both whenever possible.

I’ll chat with you all in the next one, and don’t forget to check out the discussion question before you go.

How has microaggression impacted you, and what steps have you taken to minimize its impact?

I Found My Inspiration

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During this time away from writing, I’ve been holding myself back from creativity. I keep waiting to feel in the mood or waiting for inspiration to smack me in the face. One of my favorite artist St. Vincent conducted an interview the other day. She stated if you wait to be in the mood, you’ll never be creative. It got me thinking if I could truly call myself a writer if I haven’t written anything in months. Whenever I get the urge to write something, nothing comes out, or I hate whatever I put together. I built up this thought of perfection in my mind that’s impossible to reach. My unrealistic standards are setting the mood, having an idea in mind, creating an outline beforehand, creating bullet points of the topic, proofreading within the following two days tops, and then publish the blog post. There’s no wonder why I haven’t written anything as all that is too much pressure. Sometimes you have no idea where the thought is going, and it’s best to let the mind wander. The best inspiration may come from just getting your ideas out and then fine-tined the piece later.

My purpose for writing this post today is to tell you to keep going. Even when you feel like giving up and when you aren’t in the mood. Keep going, especially when you aren’t in the mood. It’s easy to feel motivated when you’re happy and in a great headspace. The struggle comes in on the lazy days and when the only thing you can muster is to eat and go back to sleep. Given the current climate wanting to go back to sleep and not do anything sounds fantastic. However, there are times when you need to get your head back in there and go after those goals. That is the actual test of your motivation. I saw an Instagram post a few days ago, and it discussed how people seek advice, but they lack self-discipline. For example, you know what you need to eat if you want to maintain a healthy weight. You don’t need nutrition advice, but you need to develop better self-discipline habits. Create a plan for yourself and stick to it. For example, if you need to study for a test, tell yourself the sooner, I study today, the more of the rest of the day I have to myself.

Inspiration doesn’t just show up at will. You have to be in a mindset for it to flourish. You have to dedicate time to the things you want to occur. For example, I set aside two hours today to start writing to create this post. I honestly had no idea where I was going with this when I first started. I allowed for the thoughts in my head to come through my fingers and create this post. As I got further along with how I wanted to craft the reminding elements, this post started to take shape. I allowed my mind to do as she pleases, and I was able to take something unexpected into a gem. I believe this is how inspiration is supposed to happen naturally. You don’t force it but make room for it to come to you. Once it finally comes, you will be able to create something when you least expect it. If you aren’t working on something constantly, you can never hone your craft or get better. Things get better over time, but that’s impossible to do if you aren’t putting in the work.

Breaks are a necessary part of life. There are times when you’re hitting a brick wall, and stepping away is the only way to come back from that. The trick is not to allow that break to become permanent. Once you stop something cold turkey, it can be rough to start it back again. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible to correct, but it will require more effort on your part to overcome. My advice in this situation is not to allow the breaks to go too long. Create a designated timeframe of when you will return, as this will get you to commit to continuing on your goal. For example, I took a break from exercising this past week. However, I made it a point to tell myself and my instructor; I will be back the following week. That will keep me honest and accountable about my goal.

If there is a lack of commitment, it will be challenging to maintain a plan and see it to the finish line. A goal without a plan is a wish. Wishes aren’t actionable, and when there is a lack of action, there’s nothing to measure your progress. To tell if you’re moving in the right direction is through an actionable plan. My new motto is to state the goal, plan out the steps to achieve the goal, measure the steps to achieve the goal, and include a goal completion deadline. Without this much attention to detail, I would struggle to get anything accomplished. Now, I’m going to apply this same logic to my writing.

Throughout my rumbling, I hope that you found something useful to apply to your life. I wanted to share somethings that helped me recently, and I hope they can help you. During this pandemic period, it has been difficult for everyone. Trying to stay motivated and not get bottled down in negativity is an extraordinary feat. I clamber myself at times, and I took several social media breaks. People can be miserable at times, and I was trying my best not to entertain that drama. I wasn’t successful all the time, but I made attempts. If I’m honest, this impacted my ability to write. I didn’t know if anyone would care what I had to say or even if it would be well received.

People’s attention is elsewhere, so at times I felt who would even care to read a blog. There are so many other important things going on in the world. I had to remember that the people who want to seek out your post will and the others won’t. You can’t focus on would people care because the person that matters is you. Whomever this post is meant to touch, it will reach them. Let this be a lesson to you. You don’t stop something because you hold someone else’s opinion in higher regard than yours. You never know whose life you will impact by being yourself. Go out there and show the world the most beautiful person they ever saw. The inspiration that you possess could be a beacon of hope to someone else.

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Be sure to check out the discussion question before you go, and I’ll chat with you next time.

How do you manage to stay inspired in those moments when you’re struggling the most?