I’ve been following a blog entitled, “Sweatpants and Coffee.” The title of the blog itself was enough to grab my attention — I mean, it IS about coffee, and all. What’s not to love about people who love coffee? Substitute sweatpants for pajamas, and you’ve got me on any given day (yes, I’ve found that I am most productive working in my PJs — habit I formed from my days as a grad student).
Recently, a guest blogger, Lauren Dykovictz, shared a post there that was entitled, “I Don’t Have a Tribe.” Her post lead me through an entire range of emotions; I felt frustration and anger from past experiences where I never fit in, to appreciation for where I am now. Her post helped me reflect on my journey in a different way. Although the next part of my post started off as a Facebook comment in response to Dykovictz’s blog, I thought I would share it with you. After all, this “finding my tribe” thing seems to be a fad like kale and quinoa. Only, its roots run deep, and it pulls on that very human need of wanting to belong and to find one’s niche.
I’ve spent half a lifetime not fitting into one tribe or another for multiple reasons. To put this in perspective: I’m a workaholic. When I’m not spending time with my kids and husband, I’m at my desk, doing the work that I really love. I don’t go out drinking, I don’t really socialize, and I find small talk and “hanging out” a waste of valuable time.
The number of people I call true friend is small: less than ten. The number of people I call close friends: two. I don’t remember their birthdays, I don’t call all the time. In fact, I haven’t talked to my best friend in over a year, and I know that things will still be okay — when I call him, I know we’ll just pick up where we left off.
I’ve learned, after lots of rejections and of not fitting in, that my tribe is who I define as my tribe, and they don’t fall under anyone’s expectations, and they don’t fall under anyone’s expected numbers. If you have one close friend (even if it’s your pet cat, or a houseplant, or a book), then that is all your tribe needs to be. Your tribe is what you want it to be, and not to what everyone says it should look like.
Funny thing is that once I let go of wanting to belong to a tribe, and of trying to make myself fit into a particular tribe or niche, the more I actually found a tribe of my own. I focused on just discovering who I truly was becoming (although that’s always it’s a work in progress). And, in the act of simply enjoying the things I like to do and in finding and being myself, I came to know my tribe as the people who accepted me for who I am. It’s a tiny number, to be sure. But that’s okay. I’d rather have two quarters who love and accept me for who I am than fifty pennies who try to make me into a penny like them.