Are You In the Right Tribe?
Most of us swing between a desire to be significant, to stand out from the crowd, and a desire to be accepted, loved and connected. These are basic human needs and it’s all about getting the balance right.
Until relatively recently, I’ve unknowingly spent a great deal of my life searching for my tribe. Many times I’ve been in situations or with groups of people and things have just not felt right. These moments got me thinking “What on earth am I doing here? These are 3 hours of my life I’m not going to get back.” When you do discover your tribe or tribes, it’s like having a weight lifted from you. For me, nobody says in better than actress Julie Walters in her autobiography: “From the moment I started Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre, I felt as if I belonged. It was as if I’d been struggling uphill in the wrong gear all my life. Now everything made sense, everything connected and fitted together.”
So, what is a tribe?
You can be in a tribe of one or several people. It’s more about the feelings that are involved rather than a numbers game. If you don’t find your tribe or are in the wrong tribe you may feel lonely and all at sea. Your tribe is where you feel you belong
Your tribe doesn’t necessarily consist of the people you’ve known longest. What it really comes down to is that it’s the people with similar values and interests, the people you feel you can be yourself with. These are the things that make it the right tribe for you. You feel comfortable in their company, sharing conversations and embracing similar ideas or interests. We needn’t be limited to one tribe. Our friendship tribe and our hobbies tribe aren’t always made up of the same individuals. It’s the ingredients that are the same.
What kind of tribe are you currently in?
As an observer of life, I have seen that there are positive tribes and there are negative ones. It’s very easy to fall into a negative tribe and it’s only when you’ve experienced that and compared it to a positive one that you really begin to know what tribalism is all about.
When I first went to live on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, people very kindly invited me to spend time with them. On one occasion, a group of middle-aged ladies (I’m middle aged too) invited me to join them for dinner at a wonderful restaurant overlooking the busy harbour. We were in an amazing setting with scrumptious food but the ladies spent the whole evening slamming their husbands and partners and eyeing up the toy boy potential. I was horrified, not about the toy boys, but the fact that all these ladies wanted to do was criticise their partners and apparently get so much enjoyment from it. They had created what was for me a negative tribe. I couldn’t wait to go home.
Many negative tribes exist. Office colleagues meet around the photocopier to spit fire about other colleagues and their bosses, school staff rooms are filled with moans, complaints and vitriolic language, mums around the school gate can really crank it up a gear when they want to. It’s a minefield – you want to be part of what is going on but at the same time you feel it is an uncomfortable experience.
Quick check – Are you in a negative tribe?
Take this little test to see if you are currently in a negative tribe.
- Do you feel comfortable with the people you are in contact with in a particular area of your life?
- Do the group members share your values?
- Does the conversation interest you?
- Do you join in willingly?
- Do you find it easy to accept offers of spending time with the group?
If you have answered ‘no’ to one or more of these questions, you could well be in a negative tribe, so I suggest that you run for the hills.
When in Rome….
Not that long ago I attended a workshop for writers held in Rome. What a wonderful city Rome is, full of history, art and inspiration. But it wasn’t just the city itself that was inspirational. It was my colleagues in the workshop. There we all were, a group of a dozen or so people from various parts of the world, gathered in Rome for the sole purpose of writing. This wasn’t the usual kind of workshop where you write, everyone else critiques what you have written, where you wonder how you have the nerve to believe that you can write and you go home wondering why you went in the first place. This was quite different. We wrote and wrote and wrote. In between writing, we learned about the creative process and all its hazards. People felt safe and secure revealing their darkest secrets about their writing habits and how they felt about their abilities as a writer. It was a marvellous experience and for that one week we were a tribe. It increased my understanding and awareness of what it felt like to be in a tribe that was positive for me, and that I must search out similar feelings with other tribes or at least avoid the ones that didn’t make me feel so good.
The benefits of being in the right tribe are simple. We feel happier. It can spark our creativity. We feel supported. We feel fulfilled and at ease. Who doesn’t want all that?
OK, so where is my tribe?
Our tribe or tribes are out there. They are filled with the people who will accept us unconditionally for who we are. They are the ones who walk the walk with us when the going gets tough. By expanding our horizons we can find where we are meant to be. Sitting at home wishing and hoping is not the answer. Are you prepared to take the risk of waiting for a serendipitous moment when a tribe member knocks at your door?
Be curious. Go in search of what is out there. Search with an open mind and a sense of humour. You may have some false starts (I’ve had quite a few!!) before you find your tribes but you can always lie down behind the fridge afterwards. Approach the process with joy. You will find your tribe once you set the intention and get out of your comfort zone. The only thing you must do is to choose to live and enjoy life in the way that’s right for YOU.
FIVE TIPS FOR FINDING YOUR TRIBE:
- You could look around your local area for organisations and events that you might find interesting and perhaps you could get involved in organising events in your town.
- You could take a class. How many times have you vowed to learn the piano or how to repair your car? Only you know what you have be promising to do. Now is the time.
- Volunteering is also a great way to get in touch with tribe members. Charities are always on the look out for volunteers and they certainly value to work that volunteers do. Some could not survive without their band of willing helpers.
- Lurk in places where you might find like-minded people: visit art galleries, go to music concerts or the theatre, attend sports events. Be brave enough to start up a conversation.
- Join a group. Amateur dramatics might not be your thing, but you could try Toastmasters for better speaking in public. Search the local newspaper. They are usually full of information about local groups – perhaps you enjoy playing cards, so join the local bridge club or if wine is your thing, look for a local group of wine enjoyers. They often have wonderful trips to exotic places. If you can’t find a group – start your own.