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?

Work From Home Blues

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I’m not sure if I shared this information with all of you. I’ve been working from home since March 13th. After I reveal this information immediately, the response is, “Wow, how are you managing that?” Contrary to popular belief, I am an introvert. I know shocker but not necessarily to those who know me personally. I had to learn how to navigate this extroverted world and let me tell you; it’s not easy. My fellow introverts will be able to relate to that last statement. Overall, working from home takes its toll on you regardless if you’re an introvert or not. At some point, you’ll miss your co-workers, not having to work as hard (basically, you’ll feel guilty for putting in less than 100%), the little joys such as happy hour after work, and some shred of normalcy. If your curious about how I overcame the work from home blues, then keep reading. I came up with four steps that have been instrumental to me during this pandemic. Of course, more can be added, and feel free to share them in the comment section below. 

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Update Your Surroundings

Nothing says boring like your uninspiring makeshift office space. If your overall area is dull and in desperate need of a makeover, then make it happen. You can’t be surprised if your brain is in a constant state of depression if your workspace looks like a horror movie (I love horror; btw, this is just an example). I’m a big believer in your surroundings do impact your mood. For you to feel amazing, your workspace needs to be unique to you. Add your favorite things to your work area. For example, travel items, memorabilia items, novelty items, or whatever tickles your fancy. The point of this is to spruce up your workspace and to have you love your new office. Plus, if we’re going to be home for a while, you need to love your new digs.

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Take Productive Breaks

There is this tendency to work like crazy when working from home. I believe subconsciously; we want our employers to know we’re working hard and not wasting time. Unfortunately, what comes with this line of thinking is the lack of awareness to take breaks. I remember countless times during the beginning of the pandemic when I would work past lunchtime. I would look up, and it was 4 o’clock, and I remembered I didn’t have lunch today. Let me tell you those days are OVER! I have a recurring meeting for my lunchtime. Sometimes the time may change, given my workload that day. However, I have lunch every day, as expected. No more thinking I need to get work done because nothing is worth your health. Depending on how the day is going, you may need to take additional 15-minute breaks. If so, don’t be afraid to schedule those times as well. We’re all trying to survive this pandemic the best that we can. Being a workhorse isn’t the wave, so don’t jump on it.

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Look Into Training

One of the most incredible things about this pandemic is the ability to work on something that we had on the back burner. I know for a fact there has to be a new area you wanted to try or training that you keep shifting from month to month. There’s no time like the present to seize the day! Working on yourself during this time will set you up nicely when either a new project comes up or returning to the office. For example, I recently completed training at work, and now I have an opportunity to work on a new project. If I didn’t take the opportunity to gain this knowledge, then I couldn’t be apart of this new endeavor. You never know what opportunities can arise from taking on new challenges. Even if it doesn’t pay off right away, it can help with adding further details to your resume. Given the current economic climate, the more skills you have, the better. These skills can be the reason why you’re in high demand by employers. Being in a position to demand salary and place of employment is the ultimate goal. 

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Take Your PTO

I understand your response is, “Where am I going?” If that is your first reaction, then you’re missing the entire point. The pandemic may have put a dampen on things travel-wise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy local activities. Given the extra emphasis that COVID-19 has on mental health, breaks are more critical than ever. Working every week with no breaks is not recommended pandemic or not. Why are you letting this time stop you from enjoying yourself? Take time to spend with family, friends, and, most importantly, with yourself. Taking time away from work will cause you to be more productive once you log back on. Life is stressful enough, so don’t add to it but not taking time off work. Work will be there once you return. You truly aren’t missing anything, so get out there and LIVE!

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I have implemented all four of these steps during the past seven months, which changed my life. I was ready to throw the laptop out the window because, at some point, enough is enough. There’s only so much a person can take with the isolation that working from home can cause. I got to the realization that I missed my co-workers, and we started having virtual lunches. Those lunches were game-changers as it made me feel connected in a small way. That made me realize how much in life we take for granted and how it an instant it can disappear. Hopefully, these tips will help you as you move forward in this new work from home environment. 

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

What tips are you using to overcome the work from home blues? 

The Meaning of Life

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I think about it often to what the meaning of life is all about. I understand that this statement is cliche, but I still wonder about it often. There has to be more to life than work, bills, and debt. Life has to be more than getting up doing mundane things daily and not having a real purpose. The reason why I’ve been thinking about this is due to the latest episode of Pose. *Spoiler alert* One of the main characters, Candy, is murdered in a run-down motel room. The episode featured Candy coming back as a ghost and speaking to a few of the main characters. One of the things she said to Angel was to live your life and don’t have any regrets. I feel that to be free in life; you have to live it to the fullest. When you are long gone, do you want to be remembered for what you accomplished or how you enjoyed your life? You can be alive but not doing what you want will kill you long before you die physically.

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One of the things I started to do was manifest what I want and allow the universe to make things happen for me. I stated that at the beginning of this year that I would travel and go out more. I have made both of these things happen so far. I have been enjoying life and living it up! I have already experienced things that I could only dream of, and it paid off. As Will Smith said, “The other side of fear is outside of your comfort zone.” I took this saying to heart, and I’m noticing significant results. Also, I stated that this is the year that I would finally get the promotion I’ve been wanting. So far, I’ve been on four interviews and praying that this last one will be my opportunity. However, if it doesn’t happen, it won’t stop my shine. Whatever is for me won’t pass me. At the same time, you have to put yourself out there for opportunities to come your way. You can’t sit on the sidelines and wonder why what you want isn’t happening. The universe won’t grant your wishes if you don’t put in the work and put your best foot forward.

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I understand that it’s easier said than done to stop listening to the naysayers and live your life to the fullest. Of course, people will call you crazy for what you’re doing. You must realize that once you stop caring, what others say life becomes so much easier. The main person that you should be focusing on is you. Other people will feel threatened by the fact that you’re taking life by the horns and how comfortable it makes you. Most people don’t know how to deal with that as it’s not something that they experience daily. They’re too busy complaining about why things aren’t happening for them or being negative about everything in life. It’s not about why things happen, but how you react to it. Remember if at any point in your life you don’t like the story then change the narrative. You’re the author of your life, and you can change the story when necessary.

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Get out there and live more!