My Friendships Taught Me Loving Women Is Good For The Soul

What About Your Friends?

Miki Howard sang, "Experience is a good teacher, takes someone like me to know."

She understood the ups and downs of love and the need for a mindset upgrade. More than a mere bystander, her lyrics were life-tested and time-approved. Thus, she was a 'knower'. True statement: What is known in one season may need rejecting in the next.

It takes a mature 'knower' to admit when an original point of view is skewed. Maturity compels us to evaluate, eliminate, and realign our thoughts and values to ensure that life is being lived to its fullest potential. Times change; seasons shift. I thought I knew what was best for me until my plan went out the window. My vision recalibrated and my faith blossomed. As the landscape of my life changed, so did the narrative. With the transformation of me came an evolution of my needs.

It's a man's world, but it would be nothing without a woman or a girl.

The contentment of my younger years was found being nestled in a man's world. Both platonic and intimately, I LOVED the fellas! Quite honestly, I still do. My first ever best friend was a boy and even now entering my thirty-third year of life, some of my most valued friendships are with men. But a man cannot meet all of my relational needs.

The lesson of experience has taught me that men will listen to my words and present solutions, but women will listen intently to my life to discover and meet the needs of the inner me.

My paradigm has shifted. Once upon a time, my view was that girls could not be loyal to one another. From playground quarrels to middle school fallouts to high school blow ups, observation taught me that females, more often than not, were foes against which my heart should be guarded. Girls. Females. Anatomy vs. Actuality. Facts vs. Truth. Girls will be girls but, truthfully, women will be what the moment necessitates. It has been I – the very one convinced that my maid of honor would be a "man of honor" – who now cherishes the firsthand experience of having strong, faith-fueled women to rally around me.

What happened? Life happened.

In choosing to exchange my self-centered aspirations for a more purposeful plan, I have come to realize that control is not always in my grasp. I am still navigating the waters of having shifted from dreams of a career in dentistry to now creating life-giving content for women of faith. Women? Me? But I'm a guys' kind of girl! "Not so," says the One who created me for the task at hand. I am truly destined to help tear down the very lies that my early years reinforced. Not only can women be loyal friends to one another, we must befriend one another. We need each other.

A man cannot love you like a woman can because he cannot fully assess the heaviness of the load you bear.

That's no shade to the men I love or those whom you love – they have their place and we have ours. The nurturing needed to pull out the greatest pieces of you and me come from those who were divinely fashioned to function like you and me.

Loving women works because being loved by women pours life into our lives.

At times, it is the weight of the call to which I am summoned that causes my knees to buckle. Being pulled by this person and tugged by that person daily would have left me depleted if it had not been for the women (and the Lord, of course) who were on my side. As I pour into others, my tribe pours into me. As I build up others, they build me. If my flesh kicks in and I need to ride out, one or two in my crew are down for that too! We live, laugh, cry, and battle… together.

Eddie and Chris are constants in my corner, always willing to offer the male perspective. My dad, as he puts it, would kill a rock for me. Of that I have no doubt. However, it is ShaRonda that will ask the hard questions that force an introspective look at my heart.

Brittany is my listening ear and sounding board. Lindsey intercedes on my behalf. Ariel and Audrey walk with me daily. It was my grandmother who taught me to walk by faith rather than sight. Proudly, I declare I am her legacy. My mom has sown support time and time again, even when she didn't fully understand how things would unfold. For that I am forever grateful. Ms. Treva's calm, steady voice speaks peace into my every storm. I love these women with no hesitation, and they love me back.

I thought I had it all figured out only to conclude that my vision was clouded. My assessment was faulty. I had no idea how much I needed these ladies until I needed these ladies. I love my guys, but the 'knower' in me is fully persuaded that the love of these women continues to empower me to be the woman I am.

What will loving and being loved by women do for you?

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissions@xonecole.com.

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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