I was caught really off-guard when, at my workshop, an attendee remarked on the abundance of amazing female friendships in my life, which she juxtaposed against the lack of her own tribe.
I almost did a double-take until I realised that – wow, yes! – for the first time in my life there is an abundance of uplifting, inspiring women that love me and that I love back. Not only that but in the past few years my existing relationships have either deepened or dropped away. Past relationships have even healed and re-entered my life.
Looking back it seems even more bizarre.
Up until about 2 years ago I was telling myself a story. That story went a little something like this; girls are bitchy, boys are fun. I bought that book in highschool (where the nastiness was brutal) and kept reading it through the drinking buddies and flippant friends of my twenties.
Sure, there were diamonds in the mix (that I still treasure as some of my most precious friendships ), but for the most part I believed that true female connection was hard to come by, harder to keep. I almost felt the need to vandalise my video store because there weren’t no pitch perfect divine sisterhood of travelling yaya pants here.
But I now have those “movie friendships” where we borrow clothes, pay for each others juices without awkwardness and don’t feel bad about not cleaning the house before they come over. We form circles, we laugh one sentence and cry the next. We surprise each other, drop in, send texts and make an effort to let each other know how we feel.
So how the hell did it happen that I am now nestled in a warm nook of trust, support and laughter?
And what could I say to the beautiful girl in front of me that was feeling as lonely as I used to?
After a moments thought, the answer jumped up and punched me in the nose;
If you want to find your tribe then you need to start by seriously digging yourself!
How very new-age of me.
But jokes aside, it ain’t no coincidence that the very year that I started marching to the beat of my own drum was the year that like-minded women flocked to me. And that when I finally learned to love myself I attracted relationships that loved me back.
As Stephen Chbosky famously wrote (in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower a novel dedicated to finding your tribe via authenticity) “we accept the love we think we deserve”.
So while I am fiercely blessed that these women are in my life, I only have myself to thank for it.
Likewise, if you are wondering where you tribe is, then how freakin’ empowering is it to know that you don’t need to wait a second longe for anyone to find you?
On further reflection, here is how I did it and how you can find your tribe and form some authentic, f-yeah friendships;
Be Bravely You
If you are living incongruently – by that I mean that you are broadcasting an ideal or image that isn’t really you – you are going to attract people that are at odds with who you really are.
One of my biggest heartbreaks was hand-delivered to an 18 year old me via this lesson and a rather sexy surfer. I thought that guys wanted that girl. You know, the one that wasn’t interested in relationships. Problem was, I did want a relationship. Very much.
Nevertheless I put an Oscar-worthy performance and played the role perfectly and caught the guy (who funnily enough had a fish and a cat both called Oscar – insert Twilight Zone music?). It was all going just swimmingly for alter-ego-me except for the slight hitch that, as time went on I started to forget my lines. All of a sudden the act was dropping and the real me came out demanding monogamy and commitment.
He was – rightly – confused as hell. And angry. I had ruined our friendship by tricking him into being with someone that was a complete fraud. Ouch. But true.
People can’t get to know you if they don’t even know who you are, much less if you don’t know who you are. At the very least you are going to attract people that like the role you’re playing rather than the actor.
No matter how much you want to feel or think differently, your true self is going to eventually shine through. (Believe me, that’s a good thing). So if you are currently trying to keep up a charade please remember that all you are doing it delaying the inevitable arrival of your tribe.
I guess another less fluffy way of saying it is; if you put out bullsh*t you will attract flies.
Put Yourself Out There
Have you ever got chatting with someone, say, at an event or a friends place or the park, and you both kinda look at each sideways with that sort of unspoken recognition? That recognition deep in your bones that says, ‘I like you and I think we could be good friends’.
And then you get awkward, (if you are me) make a bad joke and then walk off in separate directions never to see each other again.
Don’t do that!
All of the friendships that I now value so deeply started by one of us putting ourselves on the line. Reaching out that hand and just saying – I dig you. I want you in my life.
I remember meeting one of my (now) dearest friends Ness and literally saying to her “your laugh is so brilliant that I need it in my life!” Her laugh is still brilliant and it is still in my life.
Give your number. Write that email. Introduce Yourself. Send the invitation. Again – be brave.
While these digital forms of connection are absolutely supurb (and vital until teleportation is fine-tuned) nothing quite beats face-to-face contact. Being able to see body-language and tone and to hug them if you feel compelled. So…
Hang Out At New Places
If you haven’t met your power posse yet it may be a case of not looking in the right spot. It’s like when you are really hungry and you keep checking the fridge just in case a raw salted caramel slice has materialised and is waiting for you.
So diversify, baby. Book a ticket to a wellness event. Look at the notice board at your local cafe and call a community group. Join a meditation group. Take up dancing lessons. Volunteer for a cause that you could talk about all damn day. Create that blog.
Put yourself in the way of beauty
– Cheryl Strayed, Wild
Build and they shall come
Of course, while I implore anyone looking for belonging to keep an open mind there are also time when being a bit fussy about the nitty gritty can be handy. For example – a 20 year old single gal probably has a pretty damn different timetable to a 30-year old single mother. If you keep butting up against irreconcilable timetables then set the trap for the people you need.
I have met some really lovely personal and professional contacts through a website called Meet-Up*. This is an online meeting place where you can literally put the call out of your tribe and arrange regular meetings. And you can get really specific on a setting that suits you.
For example, just within 25kms of my home (in the reasonably small city of Perth) there were hundreds of group. I’ve listed a few below to show how specific and diverse it can get;
- Fifty is the new forty (1500 members)
- I’m Sick of Online Dating (2144 members)
- The Perth Shyness Social Group (1265 members)
- Young Professionals 20+ That Are New To Perth (1431 members)
- North of the River Mums and Bubs Fitness Meetups (31 members)
So if you can’t find any other “Ferret Owners That Like To Dance Naked Under The New Moon While Eating Felafels” – then create that space for yourself and others and they will come.
*I am not an affiliate, nor is this post sponsored by Meet-Up. I just think it’s pretty fab!
Let go of toxic friends
Jim Rohn famously said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. With this is in mind – are your current friends lifting or lagging? Dreaming or dragging?
In my mind, a toxic friend is anyone that makes you doubt or dull yourself. Someone that doesn’t truly have your back. And I think that most of us are aware of the sources of this sort of energy in our life, maybe without wanting to admit it. (if you are unsure though there is a great list here that could help you figure out if your friend is toxic).
The more time and energy (both of which are limited) that is spent maintaining these relationships the less you have for current and potential partners-in-crime.
Now let’s really zone in on the concept of the energy that can engulf us via toxic friends. We’ve all felt it before. But here is a common scenario; your frenemy has texted you and it sounds kinda snarky. You always feel like you have done something wrong with her and you are trying to figure out whether this is one of those times. You go on with your day but your mind keeps jump back to it. You are stewing on it. Mulling over it.
Your face, I imagine, is not going to be bright and smiley. You are distracted and preoccupied. Your energy is going to be contracted and you will unconsciously give an air of unapproachability (that is showing up as a spell-check error – but dammit I am making it a word. Grammar-Nazi’s avert thine eyes).
All the while you could have potential friendships standing right next to you that are whizzing past you all because you are caught up in a toxic energy cycle.
Look at your relationships and either address issues that are bringing you down or take steps to remove yourself from it.
So lady, what is stopping you? Friendships that nourish and lift you are waiting for you right now.
Possibly right under your nose.
You know what? I dig this subject immensely and therefore I will be delving into it for the rest of the week. Next up; ways that I have (and you can) create lasting, love-soaked friendships. Make sure you don’t miss the follow up post by jumping on my newsletter (in the box below).