by ToyaSharaee via MadameNoire.com

I had an epiphany a few years ago about the power of loving yourself. It happened while I was employed in a position where I had steadily climbed the ranks of social services being guided by a confident mentor who although was jaded somewhat after working 20+ years in the field, was happy to cultivate and guide young leaders with her experience. It came to a point where my talent was recognized in other areas that weren’t under her leadership and I was promoted to a position under the CEO. Where before, most of my responsibilities were in direct service, education and program management, now I was working in a position where I got to use some of the expertise I had as a professional writing major who was able to manage a side hustle contributing and editing a website for several years.

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A few months into the position, I recognized that my experience with this supervisor was significantly different. I quickly realized I was being micro-managed by someone who was quick to critique my ideas and performance when they didn’t work to her advantage the way she had anticipated, but had zero to no guidance on how to support my efforts because she wasn’t confident at all in her own. She also had no concept of the state of social media, writing and advertising as it stands today but refused to humble herself because she possessed the unshakeable mindset that age equals wisdom and she had nothing to learn from someone younger with less formal education. As much as she admired my accomplishments as a writer she also could be fairly condescending in moments where she felt inept. Before long, the side remarks and patronizing comments came about my side hustle as a writer in the form of, “Not all of us can be a famous blogger.” You would think I was high-fiving Issa Rae every weekend walking into a writer’s room with a six-figure salary in an offshore account somewhere. It was in that moment I realized: Even though someone who supposed to be my superior was older, with a lifetime of experience in her field and a salary that easily made my paycheck look like a cable channel, she was jealous. Jealous of my happiness, my hustle and my confidence. It was then it occurred to me that people can look better than you, make more money than you and/or drive a better car than you. Still, miserable people will find a way to hate on your happiness alone.

I was reminded of this “Come To Jesus” moment when I came across a comment by TV writer/actress Mindy Kaling. A Yahoo article posted highlights of the Wrinkle In Time star’s appearance at 2018 Glamour Woman of The Year Summit. This year’s theme was “Women Rise” and Kaling was joined by Today Show journalists Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. Kaling shared her thoughts on women being socialized to hate themselves so much that when a woman is happy and confident, it’s almost frowned upon:

“It’s not that I’m into myself.”

“It’s that I don’t hate myself. In my career, a lot of people have a problem with being around women who don’t hate themselves. Never hate yourself.”

The 39-year-old mother and best-selling author also shared that when you’ve done the work you have a right to be confident and there is literally no reason to dim your shine:

“I always just did the leg work, and it meant I never came to anything unprepared.”

“The only reason I was able to be confident was because I literally couldn’t not be confident with the amount of research and preparation I did.”

It was a sobering reminder to the numerous occasions I’ve witnessed, particularly on social media, when people search for the negativity in your situation. I always say that no matter what I write I can expect the most discussion and supportive comments when I’m sharing how frustrated or unhappy in a situation. Unfortunately essays about being in a happy marriage, truly enjoying motherhood (Like posts from new mom Gabrielle Union recently posted on social media) or feeling like you’re killing it on the career ladder don’t resonate nearly as much with audiences as rants about being ghosted or cheated on or being laid off. It can almost make it feel like you have to dim your light and define yourself by your struggle. It’s true: Misery loves company and being happy and confident can sometimes be hella lonely. And more and more it appears that people don’t know how to bond or connect with people outside of sadness or struggle.

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