Out there in the world is your tribe. They are the ones that when you gather with them you are home. What you like, what you do and who you are so resonates with them that you are instantly one with them and they are one with you. We need our tribe and our tribe needs us.
Your family can be your tribe. And then again, maybe not. You do not have to be born into a tribe. It is entirely possible to feel like an outsider to your family. You can feel as though your family does not understand you, does not “get” you. It is possible to love them and share many similarities but also know that you need very different people when it comes to your passions, your life goals and your interests.
Watch a group of women at a restaurant some time. They talk and laugh and share this easy camaraderie. They are oblivious to everyone else as they lean into their group. You want what they have. There is something intoxicating about conversation amongst women. It is a genuine, letting-go, happy, fun, sharing-life tribe. It is the proverbial have your cake and eat it too.
I feel this way when I gather with my LeanIn Circle, Reinvent Your Life. We are women who come together to uplift, empower and celebrate one another. We are of like-mind, wanting more out of life, wanting to do our best. We agree on what matters without needing to explain or convince. There is a magic to it. A synergy of interests and shared experiences.
You may also have more than one tribe. All the better. Any time I meet a person who reads I know I am with a member of my book tribe. Talking about books and stories is time well spent and with much gained.
When I interact with people who write and create the world with words I am blissfully in my heart tribe, the greatest one of all for me. Lately, I have been following writers on Instagram. Instagram is such a wonderful medium to discover my poetry tribe. I am frequently inspired by a turn of phrase, beautifully executed.
Just as you know when you have found your tribe, you know too when you are with those who are markedly not your tribe. You might feel intensely out of place or at a minimum out of sync. In my first year of university I decided to take Chemistry 101 despite not having taken it in high school.
It was 1978 and the class was overwhelmingly male. My professor was large, dramatically bearded and imposing from his great height. He took off at a pace far beyond my capability. He made assumptions on what we had learned in high school and skipped major sections of the text book. The periodic table, to this day, remains as my worst nightmare.
I failed the class. Miserably. The only thing worse than the failure was being passed a note by the class whiz kid (picture tall, skinny, be-speckled and acne) asking me out on a date. I wrote one word in response (NO) and passed it back to him. Not my tribe. It was heartless of me but necessary.
I might have learned chemistry. I might have gotten a tutor and committed to the periodic table. But I knew, as soon as I entered that classroom, that this was not my tribe. I stayed out of a false hope that a miracle would occur and I would wake up one day understanding chemistry. It was the only class I failed in university. And I took that failure as a clear sign that I needed to move on. Money well spent in relationship to the self-understanding gained. That kid who got up the courage to ask me out, albeit sadly via a note, is probably hugely successful in life. A brilliant mind, most likely revered and applauded. But no matter, he was never my tribe. And I was never his.
A large part of finding your tribe is knowing yourself and what is important to you. In high school, I competed in public speaking. I cannot describe the absolute joy I discovered the first time I stood in front of an audience. Up until then I had enjoyed words on the page. Public speaking lifted those words up from the page and out into space through my voice. People listened. Laughed at my humour. Were moved. And at the end they applauded. I was home. I belonged to this. I felt no fear, only excitement. I wanted more.
Somehow, this blog that I write every week has become my newest tribe. I am one of the countless many applying myself to the weekly ritual of having something to say that I deem worthy to publish for public consumption. It can be a lonely sport, writing. But then there are those who tell me that what I say is good and that it has an impact on them. Then suddenly, there they are. My tribe.
Our need for belonging is as old as time. It is our instinct to connect. We are drawn to those like us and to those who appreciate our talent, our brand of kindness, our off-beat and on-beat personality, our wild and truest selves. I think of the many tribes that I have experienced thus far in life and I am struck by the similarities amongst them. In all of them I have found common values, resounding happiness and abiding benefits that make my life better and full. I have not always called them “tribe” but that is how they appear to me now and it is how I like to think of them.
One definition of tribe is as a “distinctive, close-knit group.” The closeness comes from mutual respect and understanding and interests. The closeness can be for a brief time or for a lifetime but it is fundamentally the same. In both cases, there is undeniable desire to stand in the circle with your tribe.
Think about your life.
What tribes have you known? What tribes do you belong to today? How does it make you feel to be in your tribe?
Find your tribe!