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I'm The Strong Friend & This Is Why I Embrace It

You are that bish.

What About Your Friends?

I have always been the "strong friend". I am not sure how or when I inherently earned this title, but somehow, I did. And If I am being completely honest, I'm tired of being the "strong one", let alone the strong everything. Not only am I the strong friend, but I am also the strong sibling, cousin, co-worker, and I was once the strong girlfriend too. It sounds like a bitter rant, I know, but I promise it's not. I think it is conversation-worthy to explore the dynamics of friendships and delve deeper into the topic of being the strong friend. They say friendships are harder to maintain as you enter your thirties and forties anyways.

Friendships have been tried, tested, and questioned during this pandemic. I find myself annoyed with evaluating and reevaluating the friendships I have in this chapter of my life. I want to understand why strong friends are ignored and why it's hard for us strong ones to speak up. I have to catch myself when analyzing these types of things because the smallest of issues can trigger my anxiety. But I am also willing to build my current connections and manifest new reciprocal connections too. As an empath and a true Sagittarian, I am all about human connection.

I came across an Instagram post from the therapist, content creator, and writer Nedra Tawaab:

Every point in this list is worth incorporating into your self-care routine (if you don't practice any of the above, I suggest you start). And at least a few points on this list is worth some self-exploration. But let's pause and take note of the sixth bullet point.

Explore the reasons that people may see you as "the strong one".

I posed this question to a friend and we dove into a deeper conversation surrounding being "the strong one" and the aspects about you that make the people in your life gravitate towards you because of it. After some self-reflection, here are some of the traits I identify with that make me "the strong one":

Your Energy

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Energy says more about you than words do. I am a people person, but I am also reserved by nature. Coupled with my energy type, this might explain how I am received by others. What I've learned is that I have Type 2 Energy and I am the Comprehender. I move through life making connections–both with people and with plans. I am naturally quieter; I ask a lot of questions and gather details. I sometimes feel people don't see me or hear me because of it. I also think in some ways I limit myself from letting all of me shine. I know I'm unique, but I'm learning to be limitless. It begs the question—what makes a friend receive your energy differently compared to another friend?

People Are Comfortable With You

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I have been told my presence is comforting. I am the confidant in many of my friend groups. I am trustworthy, transparent, non-judgmental, solution-oriented, and I can see both sides of a situation. With that said, friends feel safe to be vulnerable with me. I don't mind being the friend to catch you when you fall. I am an empath. The level of compassion I have allows me to feel everything more deeply than most people would.

You Always Say ‘Yes”

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When do you ever say "no" to someone? Do we ever say "no" to our family and friends? If you're like me, I tend to always say "yes" in fear of disappointing someone. Again, ignoring my priorities, needs, and wants. At the end of the day, you're busy filling everyone else's cup but your own. Then, you're left wondering who fills your cup and that is not OK. But let me just say, there is power when you learn to say "no" more often.

You Always Show Up

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"I got you girl," is my typical response. If you're like me, you're the dependable friend who genuinely cares for her tribe. You're not the mother hen, but you are the responsible one. You are true to your words. You make the time and go the extra mile. Good, bad, ugly, or indifferent, you always show up. For me, I show up simply because I am asked to. There doesn't have to be a particular reason. That is just the type of friend I am. I choose to be there. I choose to be supportive.

You Make Life Look Effortless

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You don't complain about anything. Literally. Even on the hardest of days, you get things done. You're organized, accountable to self, and tackle your day like a boss. In the words of Olivia Pope, "Consider it handled." You handle your ish because that's who you are by nature. You're independent. You realize no one is going to do anything for you. But just because "you got it" doesn't mean you don't need help. We all have our good and bad days. You deserve to be checked on and supported too.

Now that you know some of the traits of a strong friend, what are you going to do about it? Nothing because you're lit the way you are. You. Are. That. Bish. It's evident people like you, so you don't have to change who you are. Instead, learn to set boundaries with others and limit their access to you when needed. Express your feelings to others as uncomfortable as it might be. People don't know what you don't communicate.

Once boundaries are crossed or energy has shifted, you must learn to let go. And I'm the type where if you don't give a damn, I don't give a fuck. Friendships are harder to lose, and the loss is even harder to accept. Trust me, I have been through one or two silent friend breakups during this pandemic.

But I am here to tell you the title of the strong friend gets better. Wear that title with pride and know the friendships you have won't always be one-sided. The thing is, these same friends will show up in a later chapter in your life. They usually do. I can attest to this because it's not that these same friends didn't see your worth, they weren't ready to embrace you.

For now, go where your energy is celebrated, reciprocated, and wanted.

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Featured image by Shutterstock

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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