I have been seeking a "tribe" all my life. Sports teams, a sorority, AA, business groups, the bar, online forums, family, marriages, yoga teacher training; some of the tribes that I have found were fulfilling and beautiful and some were disastrous.
The times that I most thrived in a particular tribe was when I was connected to the authentic me rather than trying to hide or change or shape shift who I was in order to fit in.
Part of being in a tribe is being your whole self. Sometimes that whole self is broken; broken by fate, by people, by time. Ultimately, however, people want to know your whole self, all the parts; even the broken ones. That authenticity, that realness provides connection and oneness and a mirror for others. It gives permission to others to also bear their broken selves.
Another part of being in a tribe is be able to hold space and bear witness. Rob Bell once said (and I am paraphrasing) that sometimes bad things happen and we need to rally the troops and build that "thing" and fund raise for that "thing" and to get the whole community together to support and hold up whatever atrocity or tragedy has occurred. And sometimes, what we are called to do and what is truly needed is to just to witness; not fix, not offer suggestion, not give a power point presentation on the five best things to do in the current situation but to just walk with, sit with and be with what is happening. This is not easy but a necessary function of tribe.
Mutuality is a key ingredient to tribe and truly what makes it work. It really isn't about the give/get or get/give but more what we give by getting and get by giving. This is why living authentically and openhearted allows you to fully connect to yourself and the tribe. I call this feeling: home. It's cozy and safe. But we have to remember that in order to feel cozy and safe, we have to be willing to be vulnerable and uncomfortable and unsure.
Three ways we can find a tribe, find connection, find where we truly belong:
1. Find your truest self. This will require some digging, introspection and truth. Know that your truest self will change. Sometimes that will mean finding a new tribe and sometimes that means finding a new role within the tribe you are in.
2. Try on different tribes. Tribes are like a good pair of jeans. You have to try on many before you find the perfect fit. This is part of the process and shouldn't be avoided. It's like a treasure hunt for adults.
3. Show Up. Show up as you. Show up as authentically as possible. This way you will truly know that you belong with a particular tribe. If you are a chameleon, the connection you are trying to find will be elusive. That connection only comes when two or more souls truly see each other.
The tribe is not only there for you. You are there for the tribe. Showing up and being authentically you is what that tribe needs. There will come a day where you are on the other side of pain or loss or suffering and the tribe will need you. They will need your experience, strength and hope. And if you never had shared, never took the chance on finding you, never showed up and bared your soul, that exchange would never happen. That beautiful reciprocity of getting from giving and giving from getting.
Lastly, the size of your tribe is inconsequential. The more you show up as yourself and the more others do the same the tribe will either grow in number or in depth and value. Remember, you don't need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.
So, go forth! Find your tribe and in the process, find youreself.