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  • Writer's pictureCait Donovan

Kelley Bronner: Black Girl Burnout, The True Meaning of Work, and Why EVERYONE Should Center Joy

Kelley Bonner experienced burnout while working in what she thought would be her forever job. Since she was a little girl, she had dreamed of becoming a prison social worker. As a Black woman and daughter of an immigrant mother, she was inspired by her desire to help Black and Brown people who are disproportionately harmed by the prison system. After nearly three years of working what was supposed to be her dream job, Kelley found herself having a full blown panic attack on the floor of the prison complex. Approximately six months later, she quit her job with no plan. Now, Kelley is a company culture strategist and licensed therapist with over 15 years of experience, as well as the host of the Black Girl Burnout podcast.

Kelley’s burnout experience helped her to realize that she had the wrong impression of what work was meant to be. Fundamentally, work is just work. When you look to your boss or co-workers for validation, those boundaries between life and work can become very blurry. Therapy can help you to learn how to center joy in your life. Once you center your life around joy, everything else will fall into place. The intersection of racism and burnout created additional challenges like unlearning the unconscious biases that she had been taught by her parents, such as, that as a Black woman, she needed to be better than the best at all times.

Putting aside her perfectionism as a high achieving Black woman was challenging, but it also freed up so much more space for joy in Kelley’s life. Remember to build joy into your days and shift your mindset around work so that it does not take over your whole identity.


You cannot heal from a place of shame.” (11:05-11:08 | Kelley)

I really put a lot of my identity into what I could do being competent. And not just being competent, being the best.” (15:47-15:54 | Kelley)

Fundamentally that is what work is. It gives you the opportunity to express what matters to you and express your values.” (22:45-22:51 | Kelley)

I don't think you should hate work. I don't think you should be apathetic toward work. But you need to remember, it's just work.” (33:23-33:30 | Kelley)

When joy is at the center, the money comes, the relationships come, the ease with which you navigate your day, it all comes from what you center.” (36:11-36:21 | Kelley)


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If you know that it’s time to actually DO something about the burnout cycle you’ve been in for too long - book your free consult today:


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