• Courtney Dianne

Interview: Ariane, the Superstar!

Ariane W., 29, is a recent career switcher, a study in contrasts, and one of the realest, most supportive, and funniest people you'll ever meet. She is getting ready for her biggest career move yet and talks candidly and hilariously about turning 30, taking risks, her HBCU regrets, rebuilding her confidence with the help of her therapist, and so much more.

I went to an all-girls private school for 12 years on the Main Line, a wealthy enclave in the western suburbs of Philadelphia.

Because it was an all-girls school, I never felt disempowered because I was a woman, that I couldn't do XYZ because it's male-dominated. However, having frequently been one of the few black people or persons of color in the room, I do see my race as an obstacle, but, again, not my gender because I grew up in an all-girls environment. That's really shaped and stuck with me throughout my life.

Some of my friends are the second or third generation in their family with wealth and I have other friends whose families have had money since the Mayflower.

Then, looking at black people, we still don't have much generational wealth. Since my time as a financial coach, when I was trying to help people of lower- to middle-income start building generational wealth, I've always wanted to help others get to an equal starting point in life and not have their zip code determine the trajectory of their life. Therefore, my calling is to bring people along with me, to give them the information to start building wealth. Once you know it, then it's on you to take the next step to where you need to be. But there is so much information that people just aren't privy to; it's literally kept in certain circles. But because I went to a private school and I've been in those circles as a result, I have access to that information, and it's my calling to disperse that knowledge.

I didn't think that I'd be leaving college in Miami and moving back home after graduation. I didn't think I'd be a person with a full-time job and still living at home.

I'll be 30 years old next January. And, when you're in high school, you think that, by the time you graduate from college, by the time you're 25 or 30 years old, you'll have your sh-t together. Some of the things that have me still at home are out of my control - the job market and rising cost of real estate. However, I'm starting to realize that 30 is really arbitrary and to question why I would expect to have my life together by then. My mom had me at 25, 26 years old and just because she was a parent didn't mean she had it all together by the time she was 30.

I have to get comfortable with my life unfolding the way it's supposed to unfold.

I'm very impatient and I want things to have happened yesterday. I see people, who basically have the same background as me, accomplishing things that leave me wondering, "I'm nowhere near that. What the hell is wrong with me?" But I have to fully believe that whatever's meant for me will be mine and that everybody takes a different journey and will get to where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there. I have to fully lean into that. Am I leaning into that right now? Not really. But I'm trying to change my mindset, especially with my change in job and company. All of the mistakes that I made at my last employer were to jumpstart my career, and I'm going to try to avoid those same mistakes at this new company. And then, hopefully, this is the catalyst to get me to where I've always wanted to be, career-wise, financially, and personally.

I regret not trying harder in college.

I didn't do any internships when I was in college. Had I done internships and really tried to figure out what I wanted to do, then I wouldn't be left wondering, "Where should I go next?" My degree was in international finance and marketing, and I have coursework in PR. Essentially, I can take what I learned in school anywhere, but, because I didn't try early on to hone in on what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be and build the connections, that halted me.

Sometimes, I regret not going to an HBCU; I turned down a full-tuition scholarship to Howard University.

I'm happy that I went to Miami. All the friends that I made and all the experiences that I had, that was what I was supposed to do. However, when companies go to an HBCU to recruit, I know they are looking for a girl like me, and I don't have to break through the noise of white people, specifically white men who just fall up and fail up into good jobs. Had I done that, then maybe I would have had a much different professional trajectory, but things happen for a reason.

I've always been smart and things came easily for me. I just did enough, so I regret not pushing myself.

Don't get me wrong, if I need to get sh-t done, I get it done. But I'm not that person that is only getting an A+, and, if I get an A-, it's the end of the world. My philosophy was C's get degrees. I'm doing just enough to get by and not leaning into my maximum potential. I was used to people not expecting much from me, so, when I would perform at my normal level, they were so surprised by it. Once I got to work, there were other obstacles that I wasn't expecting but could have overcome had I been used to always trying hard all of the time, not just when I needed to. That's slowed my progression.

I never thought that I would be approaching 30 and still be in an entry-level role.

It's not that I wanted to be a CEO, but I thought that I'd at least be in a position where I would have some type of power or influence or be making an adult salary of six figures. It's hurt my self-confidence, and I see a therapist to talk things out. I used to be super confident, but not necessarily cocky. I know I'm good and I can handle whatever challenges are thrown my way. But to not have that happen in my career, and for seemingly no one to see my value, I took a hit from that and regressed. Just being at my last employer, in a monotonous role and not seeing anyone progress around me, made me think that maybe I am one of those cogs in the wheel that is not meant to add value, but is just there to do the grunt work. Hopefully, with this new company and this new role, I can be the superstar, the rockstar, that I think I am. I can start to feel more confident again and do the things that I thought I would be doing already.

This new role is a risk. It's a financial advisor development program, and there's no job security with it.

There's the possibility that I might not be successful and have to find a new job. Earlier in my career, when I was a financial coach, it was 100% commission-based, so there were weeks when I didn't get paid at all because I wouldn't put someone in a financial product that didn't meet their needs. With black people, in particular, money is taboo, and we don't like to talk about it. So, I didn't want to get over on someone just so I could get a check at the end of the week, be able to eat, and pay my phone bill. That was a risk. But, being black in America is a risk, so everything is risky.

I believe in soulmates and that there is someone for everyone.

In the movie Hancock, Will Smith's character was a god and he and his partner were naturally drawn together; no matter the time or space, they always eventually came back together. That's how I feel about my boyfriend and me. We met when I was going into my senior year of high school. Then, I went away to college, and we kind of stopped talking. We had to grow, separate, and live our lives, but, somehow, we always ended up back together. However, this time, this manifestation of us being together, is for the long haul. It's easy to love someone; but, to keep that love going and to make sure it's strong, it takes a lot. Both people have to be on the same page.

I have friends who are polyamorous, who believe they need to be with more than one person, and that's totally fine for them.

Everybody is different. However, humans are social beings and no one is meant to be completely alone. The Greeks had more than one word for love, and they all mean different things. However, in English, we just have the one word. So, whether you find your soulmate or you have a village of people that you're surrounded by, whatever type of love is for you, you'll find that; whatever works for you, that's what you're supposed to do.

I'm still trying to figure out how I can fully recharge.

I work out, but I'm not one of those people who gets a runner's high. However, if I have pent up energy or aggression, I go to a spin class, so I can do a physical release of it. Sometimes, there's something inside and you don't know how to move through it. So, whether it's me doing a Netflix marathon in my bed, or being silly with a friend - with certain friends of mine, we can just look at each other and break out laughing and crying funny tears - it really depends. There are so many ways I try in order to recharge, but, once I figure out the billion-dollar answer to fully recharging, I will let you know.

Photo Credit: Ariane W.


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