By: Mell Green
It seems as if overnight recent events have changed the world. From donned masks and gloved hands, shortages, tons of closures, a number of protests – the list goes on, really. And, what about work? While things have been quite chaotic (I’m based out in Minnesota where George Floyd’s life was taken without rhyme or reason), more than ever, I have come to understand the importance of professional wellness in these times. As a woman and a Black person, I found liberation through working for myself. And, though it has its challenges like any other job, it’s beyond the ordinary.
When it comes to work, women, especially Black women, are often severely overworked, underpaid, and overall underappreciated. Many are forced to work harder to prove ourselves to our male counterparts, and still, don’t get what we’re worth. It’s notoriously difficult to measure discrimination in the labor market and as a woman of color myself, this a pretty big issue. It’s these few reasons why women are taking the plunge and propelling their careers in new spaces away from toxicity and patriarchal systems. Too often, women look up after grinding out a long work week, do the math, and realize they’re earning well below what their counterparts are being paid — let alone the lack of creative control. And so, maybe there’s a need for some sort of reality check about the financial freedom and lack thereof for women in the workplace. While many women are able to easily find their groove, for some women, the risk of lacking financial stability is very real.
“Many are forced to work harder to prove ourselves to our male counterparts, and still, don’t get what we’re worth.”
Certainly, women cannot be expected to stay in one place our entire working career. So instead of leaving one workplace to the next, working remotely grants us the opportunity to move with our work. It may not chime with everyone, but as a writer holding nearly 6 years of experience under my belt, working remotely has essentially allowed me to be my own boss. I can set my own goals and independently decide how much work I want to tackle, knowing better than anyone what I can and cannot handle — not to mention vacation without requesting time off. No doubt. there are times of ambiguity that may make us feel disconnected or uncertain about how to move forward, especially right now. However, here are a few things I enjoy the most about being in control of my professional destiny and finances:
- A sense of freedom.
- Free-range of choosing my own projects and workload.
- Getting real ‘work’ done on the move.
- I don’t have to change my culture or way of doing things — many of my clients are super transparent and friendly.
While this can be a great motivator, depending on your approach to work-life balance, it can lead you to be unkind to yourself. When you are your biggest competition, the cycle of pushing harder to achieve goals is never-ending and can be rough on your mental and physical health without exercising a little T.L.C. or professional wellness. As the old saying goes, “it costs to be the boss”. In a sense, having a physical boss holds you accountable for your workload and accomplishing tasks on time. When you don’t have this, however, it’s entirely up to you to get the job done. This requires an immense amount of self-discipline, which, when overworked, can make us feel drained, lonely, and rationalizing our success extremely difficult. But, by staying in tune with your mind and body’s needs, this doesn’t have to be the case. There are many ways to approach professional wellness, and being intentional about it is what really counts.
“When you are your biggest competition, the cycle of pushing harder to achieve goals is never-ending and can be rough on your mental and physical health without exercising a little T.L.C. or professional wellness”
We all operate out of a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Though faced with many ups and downs the past few years freelancing, being intentional about taking care of myself (both mentally and physically) has greatly impacted my approach to work and life. Often, women’s work, experience, and pay aren’t held to the same regard as men or whites, because it’s almost always assumed they will be less willing to negotiate salary and promotions. Though — if you are like me, a freelancer — this should be ammunition for you to define success on your own terms, even in the self-employment industry. And as for me, I have greatly.
I’ve acknowledged these issues many women face today, and it’s really helped me learn to value myself before others valued me. As for me, I will continue to challenge societal norms and grow more confident in what I bring to the table.