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Ask Ayana Iman: I'm 32 & Have No Idea What To Do Next

Workin' Girl

Dear Ayana Iman: Where do I go from here?


I'm 32, a graduate with my Bachelors in Communications/Journalism, and experience with photography but I have almost no experience with reporting or writing stories. My dream and desires are to become a news anchor and gradually move on to investigative journalism. I'm a poet but would like to expand my writing skills but it seems it is hard to find a job in this field with no previous jobs in writing or Journalism. I have faith but now in my 30's, I feel like I need to get on the ball. I've been writing and have a blog but I feel like it's not getting enough exposure. What should be my next steps going forward?

Hear me when I say I completely identify with your current situation. The keyword in all of this is "current." This chapter of your story does not define your life; unless you allow it to. You are capable of achieving all you desire, and thankfully, we live in a time that allows you to gain access to the media and news outlets by creating your own opportunities.

Reading over your question, I gained a sense that you doubt your capabilities largely in part to your age and inexperience. It's time to change your thinking.

Here are my three A's of Change:

  1. Affirm - Affirm you are that news anchor, write it down on paper, and put it where you can see it every day. E.g. "I am a news anchor for *tv or digital platform* and excited to empower listeners/viewers daily."
  2. Align - Trim the fat of people, things, and personal behaviors, like succumbing to fear, that no longer serves you. Next, build and maintain your tribe of professionals in the field. Try researching the networking events in your area and attend, ready and open to receive new contacts. And always ask for what you need and be willing to give a little in return.
  3. Activate - Take action. You have all the tools you need to create change. Are you ready? Create your presence on social media, a podcast, hell, find an internship in the news/media field. If you feel your blog is stifled by low engagement, it's okay to try a new outlet.
Start and the plan will come. Whatever you do, know it's a step in the right direction.

Dear Ayana Iman: I'm a 33-year-old woman who is trying to fix a lot of the wrong I have when it comes to relationships.

I am pregnant with my second child and what I thought would be a forever thing turned out to be lies. I feel like I carry the weight of my father leaving me and my stepdad turning his back on me. How do I stop this with my next relationship later in my life to show my child something great?

I have some good news for you. You have acknowledged some of the causes of your previous decision making, congratulations! This first step can help you unpack years of trauma related to the feeling of abandonment by your father and stepdad.

Before getting into a new relationship, you have to deal with you. Stop fighting for scraps when you deserve a full plate.

The time is now to forgive yourself for any past indiscretions, from the mates that you chose to the acceptance of mistreatment. Spend more time getting to yourself, your likes and dislikes, also your needs, so that you can create better boundaries. Discernment will be necessary when navigating a new relationship. Trust me, this renewed spirit and confidence will do wonders for your self-esteem.

In regards to your fathers being absent, please understand people don't always know any better and unfortunately they can be too self-absorbed to see the error of their ways. It's time to move forward knowing you are loved and have a lot of love to offer. That in itself is deserving of being reciprocated.

Do you have a question about love, life, career, wellness, etc. that you'd like for life coach Ayana to answer in a future Ask Ayana segment? Submit your questions here for a chance to have your question answered!

Featured image of Ayana by Primo Supremo

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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