If I’m asked to show my face on this Zoom call one more time… When “I’m just here so I don’t get fired” becomes a daily quote to live bySong Inspiration: Party Up (Up in Here) x DMX
I used to start work at 7:30 AM and now I find that I am barely dragging myself out of bed before the start of the 9 AM Zoom meeting. Why am I so disgruntled when I get to have a couple extra hours of sleep? I think the major difference is that we were once able to separate home from work. When I faced a tough day or when I worked with difficult people, I would remind myself that outside of the work establishment, none of those issues or people were a concern to me. I could leave the trials, tribulations and people at the workplace and go home to find peace, relaxation and comfort.
At work we give so much of ourselves to others that home seems like the only true place in which you are free to be yourself and now, unfortunately even our home space has been compromised. I don’t know about y’all but I don’t take inviting folks into my personal home space lightly. I personally vowed to never have some of these people know that I even existed outside of our work environment, let alone know what the color of my living room is! As we’ve begun to settle into our new (high-key invasive) norm of Zoom calls, FaceTime and Google Meet as a remedy for workplace interactions, it’s imperative that we continue to find creative ways to set work boundaries while protecting our energy, our time and our space so that we can keep our composure… and our jobs.
What are you giving the majority of your energy to? As I have shared before, a big hang-up of mine has been my battle with perfectionism and people-pleasing. I have found that I put a ton of energy into making sure that I had other people’s seal of approval. A lot of the times I would put unnecessary pressure on myself just thinking about the high expectations of others, without even giving them a chance to express it. This only increased when I entered into the workforce. As a black woman in a predominantly white workplace, I spent a lot of time trying to prove to my supervisors and coworkers that I was a valuable member on their team.
It wasn’t until I did some major research in graduate school that I learned that I wasn’t alone. Black women in the workplace often adjust their behaviors to accommodate their non-black counterparts. As indicated by Hall, Everett, Hamilton-Mason (2012, p. 216): “African American women change the way they think of things or expectations they have for themselves, or they alter their outer appearance. They modify their speech. They shift in one direction at work each morning, then in another at home each night. They adjust the way they act in one context after another. They try to cover up their intelligence with one group of friends and do everything possible to prove it to another. They deny their sadness and loneliness.”
As you can imagine, this way of living can be very damaging. I was convinced that my counterparts didn’t want me to succeed, which was caused me to go into overdrive. I had to refocus my energy if I was going to navigate the workforce successfully both physically and mentally. I work on protecting my energy daily. I started to hone in on my skills and talents. I tapped into the things that made me passionate about my field of work and I let my work speak for itself. I was blessed with the opportunity to be linked with other women who I could share my thoughts with and who encouraged me. I had to learn to drop the weight of worrying about unspoken expectations. It takes a little time to stop worrying about things that are out of our control, but it’s possible. Don’t let others approval, recognition or lack thereof deter you from your purpose. Find what you’re good at and do it well. You’ll find so much inner peace that it won’t matter what anyone else has to say. Focus your energy on what’s going to help you be a better version of yourself each day. Do what you can and celebrate those things. Give yourself some grace. Again, I work on this daily.
How is that I find myself running out of time more now than when I was able to get out and physically be at work? Our current situation has left us in a time loop. Sometimes I forget what day it is, let alone the time! It seems like our employers have also fell into that same thought process. Don’t let your job dominate your entire day! I work with high school and college students who already live on their own unique time schedules, so I had to establish a new schedule that would prevent me from working until 9:30 pm or later each day. In my time frames I’ve included space for me to do something outside of staring at my computer screen like taking walks, doing yoga, reading, praying, exercising, or calling friends and family to catch up. I spend my shower time singing and attempting to learn the newest Tik-Tok dance (and failing). I’ve been put on to new music and have recommended music to others. I’ve tried new hair styles and learned some new make-up techniques. Remember to use some of your time each day to focus on pure enjoyment.
This is a major component for me. I am super protective of my space. Since I can remember, I’ve always spent time setting the scene for any space that I was going to occupy. In my childhood home, I would reorganize my bedroom furniture often. From middle school all the way through high school, I would spend our orientation day setting up my locker with magnets, photos and trinkets so that when I arrived to school on our first day back, it would have been as if I never really left. As someone who hasn’t lived at home since leaving for college, I have always liked my space to feel nostalgic, like home away from home no matter where I was. Cleaning is my zen so during this time I’ve been able to deep clean my apartment. I’ve been able to reorganize my closet spaces, my pantries and cabinets. I finally put up pictures and fixtures that should’ve been put up a long time ago. Take care of your space! I’ve seen my friends homes and apartments and it’s inspiring. One of my best friends loves plants and flowers so her apartment is filled with beautiful plants that she tends to. Put together that bookshelf you’ve been meaning to work on. Reorganize one of the rooms in your space, or take something away.
What are some of the work related struggles you face during this time and how have you dealt with them? Have you ever been doubted in the workplace because of your age, or your experiences? Do you have work friends that help you get through the day? How are you keeping your cool and protecting your energy when frustrating situations come up? Feel free to comment and share! I’d love to know your thoughts!
Yours in Authenticity,