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Ask Ayana Iman: Have I Outgrown This Relationship?

Inspiration

Ask Ayana Iman is a weekly advice column where real women anonymously submit their questions about work, life, and love. In response, a certified life coach drops some much-needed gems. Check out this week's segment below.


Dear Ayana Iman:

I've been in a relationship since freshman year of high school and I'm now in my late 20's and no longer feel the same attraction or love for the relationship. I haven't for a while but he's the only guy I've been with and the strong feelings of codependency, guilt, and sadness I feel when I think about leaving are too much for me to handle. How can I fix this?

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Let's remove any shame that's overshadowing your most honest self. What you're feeling is normal. You've outgrown your boyfriend. His purpose has been served and your relationship has run its course. I'm sure you've experienced a lot together, but at this point all you have is years. Guess what? He knows it too. You don't always have to tell a person your feelings have changed; it's in your disposition, the way you handle things, or lack thereof.

Are you ready for change? The years that you've spent together have rewarded you with the growth and clarity you'll need to move forward. Whether you drag your feet or decide to leave now, the end is inevitable. Once you put that energy into the universe, it conspires to give you what you want and not always on your time. You have the power to leave amicably and reduce fallout by having an honest conversation. Take ownership of your feelings and let him know what's on your mind. You'd be doing both of you a huge disservice by trying to force this situation to work.

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It's important that you understand you cannot control his actions but you can control your own. If he chooses to react emotionally, do not respond with the same energy. It's all about intent. If you intend to approach the situation with love and respect then that's all that matters. Try to resist emotional outbursts because all it does is cause stress.

I understand the feeling of codependency; you've spent all of your formative years with this person. But guess what? You still have a lot of life to live. Start 2019 fresh and reestablish the relationship you have with yourself. This is the time to reevaluate your likes and dislikes, try new things, go new places, and be free. There may be changes in your friendships because of the end of this chapter, so prepare accordingly. Your identity is not defined by this relationship, neither are your friendships. Be open to newness.

Again, what you are feeling is normal. You're not a bad person. It's okay to move forward.

Dear Ayana Iman:

I'm lost and feel stuck. I'm in need of guidance of aligning myself to have a fulfilled life with success. I don't know where to begin. Can you help? Currently using affirmations, but that's it.

If you're using affirmations, you're on the right path. This lets me know you're open to seeing change in your life. Here's the thing, affirmations without action produce no results. This means it is not enough to write your visions. You have to do the work, putting in the maximum amount of effort to see the fruits of your labor.

Start with your why. Why do you do the things you do?

Then follow with your what. What is your ultimate goal?

Next comes who. Who will you serve?

Define how. How will you get this done?

Once you've answered these questions, or at least have a general idea, you'll be in alignment with your spirit. This is what guides you and causes you to ask the questions that matter. These questions can apply to your career, family, hobbies, and so on.

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No matter if you're in the low valley or on the mountaintop, I implore you to check in and ask yourself these questions. Always find room for gratitude and you'll have a fuller life.

Featured image by Getty Images.

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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