Hello friends! I’m breaking my unintended blog silence with a quick post about something I’m really proud of, a new book, First & Only: A Black Woman’s Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life by Jennifer R. Farmer.
Many of us — including myself — have dreams and goals and aspirations to do something, to be something. The question becomes, “How do you get there?” Ultimately, I believe we get there by planning, being consistent and persistent, taking small successful steps and believing in yourself.
About three years ago, I made a concerted effort to put my writing skills into use in a way where I could make money doing what I love: helping people and writing.
How did I get started? I knew I always felt giddy about proofreading; as I’d sleuth through words, I’d feel like a detective looking for mistakes hidden within text. It was fun to me. I started proofing for people. I then moved to copyediting and copywriting and finally ghostwriting and strategy. All under the guise of helping writers make their words better while also making myself happy.
Today, Jennifer’s book debuts and if it feels good for me, I KNOW it feels good for her! She hired me early on to chat strategy and to review what she had already written. We discussed concepts and she was able to flesh out what she wanted to say and to whom and roll full steam ahead with writing. My thinking is that she wanted to speak to perhaps her earlier career self and to women like her, to Black women who find they are the first to do something — maybe the first in the family to graduate college, or the first among her peers to start her own business, or the first in her company to make it to the C-Suite. Because, what happens with being the first, is that you are then oftentimes the “only” one there. This can be polarizing for anyone, but especially for women and even more so for Black women. You feel lost.
As a First & Only myself, I can relate to this book, perhaps more than I want to, because Jennifer also points out the psychological pain that we must endure — we often can’t be our full selves in these environments. Folks don’t know what to do with a first and only. We have to ask permission to speak, and then speak in the way that everyone else is speaking; we have to wear our hair like everyone else, we are afraid to ask for help to get a raise because we don’t know who we can trust because no one looks like us. The list goes on.
I’m so proud of Jennifer. I’m proud she did this for herself and for others. (She worked really hard to make this happen.) I wanted to share this small piece of the journey with you because I know there is something inside you that you want to accomplish this year. Get started now, follow your passion and your inner voice and go do the damn thing. If you need some help, give me a jingle.
“First and Only must be considered essential reading not only for Black women but for people who work with Black women. There are lessons to be learned in every chapter. . . . May you find yourself in the pages of this book. May you see yourself in all your beauty and perfection. May you recognize your greatness. May you discover that which you need to thrive at work and in life. I know I have.” –Nina Turner, from the Foreword