The phrase “motivational speaker” probably makes you think of a middle-aged white man with too-perfect teeth, preaching cheesy metaphors about getting your life together to a sold-out convention center. But that couldn’t be further from who Amber Wagner is.
Better known by her Instagram handle, @jstlbby (a reference to the line “I’m just livin’, baby,” from the 2 Chainz song “Livin”), the 27-year-old has earned a massive online following for her real talk about dating, spirituality, and how to keep in mind that you’re the shit. Think of her as Iyanla Vanzant meets Cardi B, with a dash of Joel Osteen: Her clips feature life lessons such as, “Everyone wanna secure the bag, but secure your mind first,” alongside her technicolor wigs, elaborate sunglasses, and curve-hugging outfits. (More recently, her vibrant manicures have been the focus of her videos; she can spend as much as $400 a month on her claws if she “wanna be fancy,” she says.)
Wagner first gained some buzz back in 2014, after posting a video responding to the Beyoncé lyric, “I’ve been drankin’/ Watermelon,” by holding up a bottle of watermelon-flavored Arizona iced tea and exclaiming, “Bitch, me too! The fuck.” The next year she posted another video, in which she dons a blue wig and sucks on a lollipop, telling viewers, “Trouble don’t last always, bitch. Better enjoy life now ‘fore it’s too late.” The overwhelming response made her realize how necessary it was to spread messages of optimism and self-love.
“I honestly did it to enlighten people about their mindset,” Wagner says of why she began posting positive videos. “What you think is what you will get, so why not think positively?” But she knows it isn’t always easy. “I think people struggle with loving themselves because of society, and how the world judges us because of size or skin color,” she continues. “It’s heartbreaking, honestly, how many people think they have to look or be a certain way all because of magazines or TV.”
Raised in Inglewood and now residing in Carson, California, Wagner was born to inspire and entertain on a large platform. She grew up with her mother and late father, in a family that was “small, but full of love and appreciation for each other,” she says. As a teen, she was the class clown—“loud, outspoken, a trendsetter, just a big ball of fun,” as she puts it. It was only natural, then, for her to attract nearly two million followers on her social media accounts, endless likes and retweets from celebrities, and a cameo in Tyler, the Creator’s Coachella 2018 set. If you see her face (or nails) in the thumbnail for a video, press play and you’ll be just seconds from laughing your ass off, and being motivated to delete toxic relationships from your life.
Life wasn’t always lollipops and Fendi sunglasses for Wagner, though. “I was dead broke at age 24 and had no ambition of getting a job,” she recalls of a particularly rough time. “I had just lost my high school boyfriend. It was horrible!” By venting on Instagram, she was not only able to get out of that slump, but also forge a more relatable connection to her viewers. (She also credits her religious faith for getting her through tough times, and maintains that people judging her for her pride in her body is more of a sin than her sexual liberation.)
That honesty is exactly what Salty loves about Wagner, especially when it comes to her dating and relationship advice. Whether she’s fantasizing about romance or practicing celibacy until she finds the right person for her, she’s been transparent about love from day one. As she puts it, though, loving yourself always comes first, especially after a breakup. Since getting over an ex is no easy feat, we asked Wagner for a step-by-step breakdown of how to do just that, in her own transparent, charismatic words. Follow this quick guide if you find yourself struggling to focus on self-love after you’ve called it quits, and—just like Wagner has said—remember to “Keep striving, keep pushing, keep working, and keep doin’ yo’ shit.”
(The following has been edited for clarity.)
From Break Up to Glow Up with Amber Wagner
Step One: Realize It’s Officially Over!
Come to terms that it didn’t work and it’s not meant to be! Stop going back and forth with yourself, wondering why. Stop trying to contact them and try again. Stop trying to rationalize. Stop trying to pinpoint what happened. Stop acting like you need “closure” just to speak to them again and try to rekindle that burnt-out-ass flame. (Believe me, I’ve done it all lol.) IT’S DONE. Keep it moving!
Step Two: Release!
Take a moment. Emphasis on moment, meaning no longer than a week—if you even need that long! ‘Cause I know how it can get when we in our feelings and emotional. (Maybe hormonal, blah, blah, blah…BUT STILL YOU HAVE SHIT TO DO, OK?)
And when I say take a moment, that means whatever you need to do to release them! Burning pics, deleting pics, getting rid of old merchandise, crying, sleeping, talking it over with a friend or family member…. Work out something to acknowledge that, “HEY! I’m not looking back!”
Which leads into my third step:
Step Three: Get Back to You!
Your daily activities, hanging with friends—sometimes relationships separate us from the whole damn world. Take time for yourself. Take yourself out. Get back to being that solo force that you were before you jumped in a relationship. Do things for you that you couldn’t do while you were in a relationship!
For example: If you were saving money for a trip but got with your partner and ended up spending that money, get back to saving. If you were taking extra hours at work, stopped to give them all yo’ time, go back to getting those extra hours. Shit, if you used to Paint & Sip every Wednesday but stopped, once again, for your relationship, GET BACK TO YOU! It’s only right!
Step Four: Start Mingling!
OK, now I’m not saying jump in bed [with someone], or start having late night rendezvous! But get to know people, have a friendly conversation, laugh, feel the freshness again—TAKE IT SLOW but enjoy it! It will clear your mind from the pass and have you knowing you still got yo’ mojo for when you are ready to start dating again.
And last but not least:
Step Five: GO EAT!
Lol I don’t care if you’re vegan, vegetarian, or just a regular eat-everything-in-sight person like ME! Lol a good meal to celebrate a new chapter, a new beginning is always needed! And I don’t mean go eat fast food—nah, nah, I mean that good shit lol! Get so full that after you leave all you can do is go to bed and wake up the next morning like, “DAMN THAT SHIT WAS BOMB!” 🤣 I guarantee you, you’ll feel AMAZING from that day forward.
Written by: Keryce Chelsi Henry