The Life, Times and Lessons of a (Former) Angry Female Employee

Guest Post by Lexi B

There is a mold that many young professionals feel they need to mimic in order to be successful in their profession. While this mold can be different for each person, we all have imagined what a leader should look and act like.

I was no different at 22 years old when I start my first real job. It was six weeks after my college graduation and I imagined finding a successful woman with a great fashion sense and a plethora of glorified degrees on her wall to be my next mentor.  She walked gracefully, spoke with class, and created an illusion of the perfect life.  As my mind concocted this mystery woman, I made it my mission to find the corporate world version of Beyoncé who would take me under her guidance.  I never found her. The more I searched the more frustrated and alone I felt in my work environment. To make matters worse, I realized that I was nothing like my mold.

I was defensive and determined to win every small battle instead of focusing on winning the war.  I was a quick learner with a quick fuse.  I could actually go from 0-60 in a matter of minutes, especially if I knew I was right.  When I would hit about 20, I would gracefully walk to my car and call my mom as she would calm me down from the temperamental ledge that I was about to jump off of. It also didn’t help that I was the youngest person on my team; therefore, connecting with other co-workers was nearly impossible.  At lunch they would discuss ballet classes and little league car pool schedules. Leotards and baseball cleats had nothing to do with my bridesmaid preparations and dinner party planning. Due to this awkward disposition with age, race, and gender I started to lash out.  It was never the goal to be this angry and emotional team member who didn’t recognize her reflection in the mirror. I just transformed into this depressed monster who didn’t know how to appropriately express my pain.

Lexi B.
Lexi B.

As my behavior and emotions became a negative spiral of misunderstandings, doubt, and lack of confidence in myself, someone came to rescue me.  This person, a woman of color who sat down the hall from my office, noticed my potential and my constant fighting with my emotions. She took me as her mentee and became my weekly therapist about work and personal issues.  More importantly, she helped to build my confidence and my drive. She was my Sasha Fierce.  She had a great wardrobe and a “tell it like it is attitude”. She was quick to applaud me and even quicker to symbolically grab my collar and sit me down.

I learned a huge lesson during my healing phase with her. I was too busy trying to fit a mold I could not obtain because that was not the authentic me. I performed behaviors that I assumed people wanted to see instead of giving them my true personality.

After identifying this issue, I transformed completely. I went to all male project meetings and discussed my passion for shoe purchasing and hair doing instead of waiting for the UFC fight analysis to end.  I listened intently to mothers discuss their toddler‘s potty training problems and gave them my interpretation of my new puppy’s resistance to eating at night.  I just allowed myself to be proud of me, despite the fact that I was the only twenty-something single, black female thinker at the table. Just like everyone else expected me to patiently understand their lifestyle, I encouraged them to understand mine.

I realized that most people do not have malicious intent when they same something offensive.  They just don’t know any better.  I used humor, awkwardness, and an “in your face” approach to have teachable moments with my colleagues.  No, putting your hands in my curly hair is not appropriate. But asking me about my hair is completely OK.  Better yet, I prefer you to. I would rather talk about my hair products than this PowerPoint presentation anyway.

Staying true to yourself is one of the hardest things you will experience in the work environment, especially as a minority and/or female. It has been almost programmed in us to leave the authenticity at the door and code switch to the black suit work circumstances in which we lead.  But if you don’t like the person that you become between 9-5pm, why would you assume that others will enjoy this person?

Learn from my mistake (a mistake that could have cost me my job) and make sure to tailor your personality to the job and not the other way around.  Throw away your imaginary molds and just be your best self.  As cliché as it sounds, learn to be a better, stronger, smarter you instead of working so hard to be someone else.

So ladies, wear your heels or chucks, zip up your suit or your jeans, pop your curls, straighten your locks, or have your weave laid. Just do you and always work on outdoing yourself every day.  Everything else will come into place.  When you are comfortable with your awesomeness and what you bring to your professional community everyone else will not only adjust but applaud it.

Alexandria Noel Butler, affectionately known as Lexi B, is St. Louis, Missouri raised and San Francisco Bay Area remixed.  After graduating from Stanford University in 2011, she began working in the Silicon Valley.  While working, Lexi B developed a passion for the young professional experience and created the Grown Up Truth to discuss the twentysomething experience.  To receive daily updates about Lexi’s adventures, follow her on twitter and Instagram.

Guest Writers Week: The Drastic ‘N’ Word

By: Erica Harris

I walked into the office of my new work location scared as hell. I bought the New Kid On The Block mentality to my job and instead of wondering what time my lunch break would be since I skipped out on breakfast and my stomach was telling me how angry she was through her growls, I was so consumed in the thoughts of how well I would click with my new counterparts. How good my first day would be was based on how easy it would be to just blend in and interact with the co-workers I’d have to see throughout the week. At 26 years old, as a mother, as the oh-so-faithful tweeter of “No Phucks Shall Be Handed Out or Given To Folks Who Don’t Pay My Bills,” I was actually worried about this. I read through the forced smiles and heard how fraudulent the “good morning’s” were and knew that I’d be in for a treat on this October Monday morning.

The Social Butterfly. That’s who I am. And I can’t help it. I’m one of those people who’s friends with you, your momma, your auntie and maybe that girl from down the hall that you can’t stand. By nature, I am an extremely sociable person, but the older I get, the more I find the need to erase the word ‘extremely’ completely. Slowly, I’ve been hitting Backspace on the e, the l, the b and so on and so forth and at the rate I’m going, by age 30, the sociable part of that term just may be forced into exile as well. See, over the course of ten years, I’ve gone from being the girl who tried so hard to blend with the populars, losing myself – and a ton of money that went toward things I really didn’t want or need – to developing into a woman who came to the realization that some people will only be down with you, chill with you, f*** with you, for as long as you shuck and jive for them on their own terms and on their accord (Insert great Twitter quote here: “Folks ‘give’ not of their hearts, but because they want to feel good about THEMSELVES and demand people aid in that feeling”).

And I ain’t even with all that…

Ever work someplace and you have that one person, who holds the same position as you, has no seniority over you, but wants to be the boss of you? Yeah, that happened. It went from giving me a mini-orientation, briefing me on the ins and outs of the place to acting as a full-time supervisor. I was advised to do something, outside of her realm and mine, and without hesitation, replied, no. I couldn’t help it, but I had to burst the bubble floating above her head and snap her back into reality. Before I knew it, I heard more whispering than I did conversations being held at regular volume level. People started to hold their heads down when I passed yet gave me the constant side eye when they thought I wasn’t looking. It went from “do you need anything” and “how’s it going?” to:

“She thinks she better then.”
“The new girl has a stank ass attitude.”
“Who put this bitch on a pedestal?”

And I kept on working, trying to keep my most prized and dangerous possession – my tongue – from saying what was on my mind, out loud. I wanted to tell them, “Miss, it’s ‘than’, not then and it’s not stank, it’s ‘stink’ and last I checked, you put me on the pedestal I didn’t even know I was on. Oop.

It’s a regular occurrence, I should be used to by now; I start losing friends and the circumference of my circle begins to dwindle in size when I’m impelled to say ‘no’. If I don’t verbally tell you no, my actions sure do – and I’m assuming this is known as “the curve”. People start acting a certain way the moment they hear that drastic N word, gathering their feelings in a bunch. They self-consciously begin to act more off of emotion than logic. I don’t do well with folks who go basing behavior solely off of feelings and I guess it’s because I’m big on consistency in everything. I would much rather be alone than deal with your off and on. I saw it best on Twitter the other day, “The system of segregation I apply to my life is based on behavior, not race” (@cthagod). You can keep it.

My sanity space is sacred to me. I’m all for positive vibes in my atmosphere and anything that goes against that is not welcomed in my realm. Distancing and removing myself from people who are proudly down with Team Negativity doesn’t hurt me, in the least. It hurts the ones who are adamant on spreading that energy into the Universe, because see, Lauryn Hill said it best,
“Karma, karma, karma, comes back to you hard.”
I couldn’t believe that hours before, I was actually worried about blending in – again – with these foolish, frivolous adults. Everything changed because of a simple no. No’s are powerful. No’s are needed. For my co-worker, that no was her wake-up call. Ma’am. You are not a friggin’ supervisor. For me, that no was my eye-opener. I heard a voice tell me, “Did you really need to fit in? No, you didn’t.” The no’s we hear are necessary for our personal development, yet people take the no’s as a breakdown towards our spirit. How can we work on turning our no’s into yes’s? What priceless lessons can we grasp from a no?

At 16, I thought I figured that fitting-in thing out after the death glares and looks of denial I got sitting at the table that wasn’t meant for me and after getting rejected by the boy that I liked who didn’t share the same feelings. At 26, I clearly forgot that my day – my life – shouldn’t be based off of how the next person views or feels about me. I’m there to do a job that doesn’t say anywhere in fine print, stroking a co-worker’s ego is mandatory to succeed. I’m alive and well to fulfill a purpose that was destined for me that no one has to approve of. If you’re down with me, cool. And guess what? If you’re not, that’s cool too… I got to keep living for me.

Erica Harris is a NYC native, proud mother of two boys and is fake married to her partner of 9 years. She is a former student of SUNY Plattsburgh, majoring in English and is currently fulfilling her dream of publishing a novel on domestic violence. Her work has been featured on For Harriet, she can be found on her personal blog www.everythingEnJ.com and on Twitter at @KaeNdKamsMom.

Entitlement Will Ruin You.

Every so often I decide to update the bio page on my blog. Last night after spending way too much playing around with Bitstrips, I decided it was time to update the bio. I typed, “Tyece is the author behind Twenties Unscripted. She started the blog in 2012 in an effort to tell her own twenty-something story after growing tired of reading too many misrepresentations of her generation. She saw twenty-somethings being lumped in to the category of either entitled pricks or hopeless peons and she wanted to show that yes, they are. But, they are also much more.”

Listen, some twenty-somethings are entitled pricks. I have to battle myself daily not to be one. In some ways, can you blame us? We’ve spent a good portion of our lives being patted on the back, dropped on pedestals and hearing just how amazing we are. We’ve been rolling around in a shitty pile of praise. In sixth grade, I received an award for having a “B+” average in reading. Really? An award for a B plus? It doesn’t make a lick of sense. But, because many of us experienced similar rewards for only a mediocre result, for awhile, we believed we were the best thing since sliced bread. We graduated from college and waved around those degrees thinking that our pretty little faces and an internship or two should help us secure the job of our dreams.

And, then reality sucker punched us so hard that we’re still seeing stars.

Post-grad reality comes in many different forms. The boss who hates you. The job you don’t get. The job you get laid off from. The mountain of bills you struggle to pay. The hierarchy and politics of any workplace. The stark adjustment in your lifestyle, unable to afford regular happy hours or exciting trips. If you are smart enough, you quickly learn how to readjust your sails, shed any sense of entitlement and work your ass off. If you aren’t smart enough and you still feel like anyone owes you anything, your life is probably still sucking and will continue to do so for awhile.

According to dictionary.com, entitle means “to give (a person or thing) a title, right, or claim to something…” In other words, there are few things in this life to which we are entitled. Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness. You know, the Thomas Jefferson shit. Beyond that, start working.

Believing you are entitled to things is a grave mistake that will ruin every aspect of your life. An unmerited sense of entitlement is the kind of poison that eats away at your existence slowly. It will strip away opportunities.  It will make everything you do unpleasant because instead of being grateful, you will be miserable. Instead of knowing the fulfillment that accompanies a reward after hard work, you will only know the envy that accompanies an unsatisfied sense of wanting.

And, entitlement will wreak havoc on your relationships. We so often make the mistake of believing after we have achieved a certain level of history with a person, we somehow have the right to be mean and nasty. We have the right not to think before we speak. We mistakenly believe we have the right to act out in the most asinine of ways because “they will love us anyway.” And, there is nothing further from the truth. Everyone in this life always has the option to walk away.

Check your entitlement at the door. Otherwise, prepare to be ruined.

Xoxo,

Tyece

 

There Is More To Life Than Being Another Cog In The Machine.

cog in the machineMaybe we just haven’t found it yet.

It is 12:03 a.m. and I am lying in bed watching the ceiling fan whirl, wondering, for the 1,458th time, what I am doing with my life. I am wondering how many Monday mornings I have worked through. How many large cups of coffee I have imbibed. How many elevator rides I have endured looking at my shoes, the wall, my cell phone screen or anything else to safeguard me from conversation with the elevator’s other citizen. How many times I have asked, “How was your weekend?” or “What are your holiday plans?” I venture to guess I’ve uttered both phrases combined at least 100 times.

Sometimes, you feel uncomfortably wedged between your current state and the life you’ve always imagined. You look around and see people who are genuinely leading the very life you only dream of and you keep scratching your head wondering how the hell they got there. What is it about their background, their family, their finances, their sheer and utter luck that dealt them a royal flush? Some days all you do is look at a screen for seven, eight, nine consecutive hours, but when you get home, it feels like someone beat you over the head with a metal bat. Your life is damn near flat-lining, the weekends and evenings the only spikes that occur so that you do not require resuscitation.

But, there is more to life than being another cog in the machine.

There is the life you’ve always craved, a masterpiece that you could craft with your own hands if you were not afraid or drowning in student loan debt or a poisonous combination of the two. There is the life that you may have to build slowly, brick by brick, but you better fucking build it. It will not be handed to you on a silver platter complete with the trimmings. It will take more time than you think, more patience than you believe you have, and more work than you ever thought you could produce. But, you will build it. Otherwise, the machine will absorb you and eat you alive.

There is that very thing (not person) that drives you. That feeds you. There is that thing that makes you feel alive and meaningful and just plain good. For me, it’s writing. But, you’re not a blind monkey so you already knew that. I think in blog post titles. I itch to get home and plop myself in the middle of my futon, sweating out my thoughts one word at a time on to the screen. I wake up and think of new sentences. I jot down notes late at night before I go to sleep. Everything else seems periphery; writing is my life’s restoration. Wine is a close second.

If you want more than the insulated existence complete with 2.5 children, a white picket fence, a mate who loves you and a biweekly paycheck, the world will deem you selfish and spoiled. To not feel content with the status quo is to shit on everyone else who lives and breathes the status quo. You are a soured brat, your passions a magnifying glass peering over the chasms in other people’s lives that, perhaps, they never noticed. But, you are no less for wanting more.

It is 12:46 a.m. and I am staring at the ceiling fan whirl. I’ve made my lunch for tomorrow. I’ve ironed my clothes. I’ve fed myself a halfway decent meal and crawled into bed at a halfway decent time so that the 2 p.m. slump does not assassinate me. These are the cog-in-the-machine days. There are the days I grind, feeling like there’s no end in sight. There are the days I am making ends meet, my life’s trials an education in of themselves. But, I know these days will be limited because I will limit them. There is more to life than being another cog in the machine. Maybe I just haven’t found it yet.

Xoxo,

Tyece

 

Confession: My Nonexistent Dating Life, As Evidenced By Countless Side Projects

Two of many side projects.
Two of many side projects.

When single, some people sulk. Others go on a marathon of dates. I, on the other hand, whip up a plethora of side projects.

I was on the phone with a friend last night waxing poetic about an event I am planning for the end of summer when I joked, “No men, mad projects.” Since I purged my life of the last and latest dickhead two months ago, I have started writing a book, worked on a performance piece, drafted a speech, started “Shop Twenties Unscripted” (with the help of a great designer friend) and planned two events for this summer. I’ve also tried to write more consistently here. I’m not sure if there’s a direct correlation between sexual frustration and quantity of projects, but I have an inkling there may be. Ponder that, you mathematicians.

I’m always looking for new ways to write about being single. I’m always flipping the topic on its head because it’s clearly something I’m passionate about. Or, maybe this is just my life and it’s difficult not to infuse my life into these posts. When I came up with this topic, I didn’t know if there was much of a topic. In fact, I typed a few words, left my computer, returned, and still tried to figure out what the hell I was trying to say. Because, I don’t know the line between comedy and tragedy when it comes to me, my singleness, and my countless projects.

I’m always trying to strike a balance between caring for an individual and caring for myself when dating.  I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it is a balance I will learn over time.  I tend to like, lust and love pretty hard. I know. Everyone says that. But, figures of interest leave an indelible mark on me, some more than they’ll ever realize. More often than not, I’ll admit I’ve lost myself in relationships and non-relationships alike. Sometimes who I am shrinks in the midst of muscles, massages, and middle-of-the-day texts. Sometimes, I have to wake that bitch back up. It is often times in the frozen middle of that fixation that I have to remind myself of this single person–this person who is fueled by ideas, writing and creativity. 

Finding your happy place is, arguably, a lot harder when single. Yes, cue the violin. But, without immediate memories of late nights over dim lights to occupy the real estate in your head, you have to craft the avenue to your bliss much more proactively. My projects give me purpose. They aren’t just my way of busying my hands; they are me. They provide goals, channels of expression and things to look forward to.  Bodily frustrations aside, I like what I do and, more significantly, who I am when I’m single. And, it is in these rare moments of clarity that I hope and pray I can remain that same person when I’m in another relationship.

Xoxo,

Tyece