The Emperor is the big pappa archetype of the tarot. He is powerful and grounded. He rules his realm with a strong and stable authority that just screams “Don’t even bother trying to mess with me.” The Emperor energy allows us to step fully into our power and command our lives with unwavering confidence. It allows us to make the tough calls and follow them through. He is a leader and he is capable.
A couple of years ago I got my first big girl job as a designer. I was bright-eyed and bushy tailed and ready to prove myself. I quickly learned the ropes, stepped up to the plate time and time again and made some pretty cool shit.
As the months passed and I proved myself more and more capable my responsibilities began increasing too. As the workload increased, so did the amount of “I’m sorry I have to stay back tonight” messages to my girlfriend. I was working over time almost every day to get through the amount of work that had been dropped on my shoulders. I wasn’t paid a cent for this overtime. The expectation was that I would do this work without ever being compensated. And I did. Until it began to break me. Stress crying in the shower with the lights off kinda became the usual.
I won’t go too much into it but the company culture at this workplace was pretty terrible. Those who ran it left poised themselves as progessive and open-minded but made many, many comments and actions that undermined that stance. There were a handful of times I was the butt of homophobic “jokes”
Luckily for them they did actually have a team of amazing people that did amazing work despite their obvious managerial setbacks. I will always be grateful to the person at the company that imbued me with courage, knowledge and drive to ask for my first pay rise. She helped me see my worth at that company and generously offered to coach me through it. I doubt she’s reading this, but if you are. THANK YOU.
Asking for this pay rise was the first moment The Emperor energy made itself known to me.
I was forced to assert myself, my achievements and the time I had dedicated to this work in front of two people who seemed to have little to no respect for those they employed. And after 3 meetings about it and me asking several times if they had decided yet only to be told “We want to make you suffer.” and was forced to arbitrarily wait longer.
The pay rise I was offered was what finally broke me. I was asking for the pay of a mid-weight designer as those were the duties I was performing plus more and instead was offered a pay rise that still had me being paid below most entry level positions. Despite trying to negotiate higher they wouldn’t budge. So I took the scraps they offered and fumed.
It was a couple of weeks later after a considerably challenging day. I had worked almost 3 hours of unpaid overtime on a Friday night, only to get home and told I had to continue to work. It was about 9pm when I cracked.
That night I posted a photo to my instagram story of my flipping off some of the work I was being made to complete, strategically placing text and blurring components so that it could in no way be identified, ya girl ain’t THAT dumb. The text read something along the lines of “When you’re paid $48k as a mid-weight designer and made to work mountains of unpaid overtime”. Look, not my finest hour but I guess that’s what happens when you’re repeatedly devalued.
It was the week after I was called into the meeting room when the two owners confronted me about this post. Someone had screenshot it and then sent it to them. They then proceeded to threaten to fire me for alleged ‘Gross Misconduct’ and revealing my salary which was apparently against the contract I’d never actually signed because it didn’t exist until I begged for it 8 months after starting at the company. (These people.)
I knew in this moment I had an important choice to make. I could make an apology I in no way would mean, tuck my tail between my legs and hate myself for letting these men walk all over me and dictate my own value to me or I could stand the fuck up for myself. I decided to transform into The Emperor.
It was one of the most goddamn satisfying moments of my life. Instead of the apology they were clearly expecting I looked them right in the eyes and proceeded to outline to them exactly why my actions were a symptom of bad company culture, not the cause. I stood in my power and I told them how much I had done for the company and my colleagues and what big mistake they were making. I held my ground and stood up for myself.
And then I was fired and forced to leave the office immediately.
It hurt and I had a couple of cries. But walking the long way home while listening to Lizzo, I began to realise what I had done. I had recognised my worth and my authority and I did not allow it to be taken from me.
It was the first moment in my life that I realised that hey, maybe I am a bad ass bitch after all. SPOILER: I absolutely am. SPOILER 2.0: We ALL are.
The next time your worth is challenged, whether it be by someone in the world or that annoying little voice in your head that never seems to stfu, what do we say?
We say “Sorry bitch, but I’m the mother fucking Emperor and I do not back down.”
We hold our head high, we stick our chests out and we claim the space we take up in the world.
Find your power, feel it, and let it change your life.
Til next time, Soul Fam.