Why Talking About Your Friends Is Actually Normal

The Case For Talking About Your Friends Behind Their Back

What About Your Friends?

Your girlfriends, sisters, ride or dies. Your circle. The intimate group of people you've chosen as family. On the surface, especially on social media, we see these tight-knit groupings of women all the time. They're at brunch, on vacation, shopping together, or posing it up for the 'gram. Beyond that, they are the group of friends that are unequivocally there for each other, the highlight reel on social media doesn't touch the depths of this kind of friendship.

These circles are not peaches and cream. Being in a close circle, I've experienced the ebbs and flows that occur within friend groups. The real moments that cannot be captured in a TV show, although the depictions in Insecure come close. Adult female friendships are complicated, especially within a group. While everyone is friends all together, each person has their relationship with one another. The dynamic of each bond will vary. We see this in shows like Insecure. Molly, Tiffany, and Kelli are Issa's girls, but Molly is her BFF. She's going to her first when it's time to stalk her new guy who's ghosted her, just like you'd go to your best friend with a ridiculous endeavor that she'll hastily oblige.

I think many women know where they stand within their circle. It's not to say that there is a pecking order, it means that you understand how everyone feels about you. While it's all love, like you'd turn to a particular friend for one thing, the same goes for your girls. Everyone is close, but there are levels of closeness.

This intermixture is not a bad thing because every person in your life has their place.

Women are discursive. We like to talk a lot. The growth of blooming friendships rested on many verbal exchanges as you realize how much you have in common. I can recall spending countless hours on the phone talking to my gal-pals about any and everything as a teenager. Today when we meet up, the room is full of love and laughter centered around discourse. As we get older though, the nature of our conversations speaks on the friendship's foundation and growth, but one thing that remains the same is the lighthearted chats and belly laughs.

The saying is true, "We all have that one friend," however not in the same context. But we do have that one friend to call as soon as we get good news, that one friend whose house we can show up unannounced, that one friend who is down to put on all black and roll up with you on your man when he acting different. And even that one friend that we vent to, even about our other friends.

There is this unspoken custom that is hardly brought up but does occur. We talk about our friends.

Most people's minds will go to the negative, however there is a thin line between venting and gossiping. At times our friends annoy us. Maybe there was a misunderstanding or something they said. Talking about it with a mutual friend will help you blow off little frustration before you address the matter. Then the big blow ups can affect everyone. The ones not seeing eye to eye are going to talk about the problem, sometimes to the same friend. Getting that person's perspective can be healthy because they know you and the other friend, so they'll assess the situation from a neutral ground and be able to offer personal advice.

This isn't a case of you throwing your friend in the dirt, but expressing how you feel, your anger or disappointment.

Some things you don't mean come up but that comes from a place of hurt. In an ideal world, we'd be able to confront the issue as soon as possible, that is the better option, but it's not realistic. We like to think that these situations should only remain with those involved and sometimes it should. Not everyone in the group has to be brought in, because as grown women, we are capable of settling things ourselves. However, we work off emotion, and when you mix that with connection and history, sometimes it means taking a step back to evaluate how to move forward. Discussing it outside of that person but within your circle can help you realize if you want to rectify or not.

We talk about those close to us not in a deceptive way but because of frustration.

It's a no shade, no foul. If you find yourself continually talking about the same friend, are you their friend? Some important questions need to be addressed about why they're your frequent topic of discussion. To the outsider it's shady, which is it is. But it's also a revelation that frequencies aren't aligning or that there is a toxic person in the group (sometimes that person is you).

One rule many expect of their friends is that what is discussed stays between those a part of the conversation. This secrecy is crucial for trust. Your friend should not doubt that personal things they've confided in you will be talked about with your other gals. Secrets are meant to be kept between who they're shared with. Sometimes we can get carried away in conversation and say something we shouldn't. It's not intentional, maybe you assume the friend knows already, or you're used to sharing on a regular basis and keeping them in the loop. But just because everyone is close doesn't mean everything is known between each other.

Knowing what to share and what is off limits is essential.

Don't deny that this doesn't happen within your circle. Everyone can be as tight as double-knit rope but talking about one another is inescapable of any friendship. It's the nature of these conversations that determine what is right or wrong. It isn't shit talking or lousy speech, it's discussion that will not be taken seriously or held against your friend.

It's comical - Your friend kissed a total stranger at the bar after one too many cocktails.

It's not serious - Your friend isn't the best cook.

It's exciting news - Your friend just landed a new job.

It's necessary - Your friend is having a hard time with a family matter.

If you're someone who thinks this is a form of betrayal or shade, then you don't understand how circles work. As a friend, your expectations may be too high. These people are your tribe, the people you know and trust the most. What they say about you when you're not there is either light, funny, or a matter that needs to be discussed. It happens. You should have the confidence and understanding for what comes out their mouth is not of ill intent.

A rule of thumb: to receive sincerity is to practice what you expect from your friends.

As we get older, the bonds of your circle are tested more than when everyone was schoolgirls still figuring themselves out. Now is where the validity of friendships shows its true colors. If you have to question the closest people to you or vice versa, then maybe it is telling you something you didn't know before. One thing to remember is with solid friendships there should be no doubt.

Featured image by Getty Images

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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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