Once, there was a new mother that was totally overwhelmed with life. She did not really have any girl friends because she was younger than most of the other mothers around her, and her life was definitely not settled like their lives seemed to be. She decided to join an internet site called IVillage back in the beginning days of the internet. From there, she joined a debate forum over “Stay at home versus Working Moms.” And, she found a tribe of incredible women. They were lawyers, community leaders, stay at home moms, professors, and accountants. I felt so dumb at first, but they quickly taught me the art of debate. And friendship.
People always think it’s weird that I have internet friends. I’ve met several of the women, and they have known me forever. We have a shared history together. They helped through traumatic times, they’ve seen me at my worse, and they always tell me the truth. We now share internet space with each other and talk with each other almost every day. There have been times when I have totally been a bitch and left our space. There have been times when I have torn into other members for no reason. They always welcome me back. That’s the joy of having a tribe. They have your back, and they are forgiving. We have been together almost twenty years now. We have been through deaths, remarriages, divorces, and all those messy things of life. They have been with me so long that they are a part of me now.
In my “real life,” I have a built a tribe too. The oldest member is a 80 year old badass woman of color, and the youngest is one of the coolest millennial women that I know. My tribe is full of smart women and a few really great guys. They range from business-owners to educators to retired. Their wisdom means the world to me. I never get to see them as much as I want. We fall in and out of each other’s lives just like any other relationship in this insane world.
The thing about a tribe, though, is that it is not all fun and games and ego-strokes. That’s not a tribe. That’s an entourage. My tribe tells me the truth even when it smarts. I do the same for them. In romantic relationships, I am always all in or all out. My tribe reminds me of that when I am all in with a guy that is all out. They remind me that I worthy. They remind me that I am repeating old patterns. When I am all out, they remind me that I am hiding out. They help me parent. They help me draw boundaries. They gently tell me that I need to seek some therapy or have a really good cry. They have never quite all met each other, because we are so busy.
Tribes are important. I tell my young female relatives to build a tribe. When I was in college all those years ago before cell phones and internet, we traveled in girl packs. Lord, it was messy. There were so many huge knock down fights, but there was also support. We never went clubbing without our girl pack. We never left one of ours behind at a bar, even if she pleaded to go home with that nasty forty year old man that promised to drive her back to the dorms. Tribes are today’s girl packs. We need a place to fall. We need a place to be ourselves. We need a place of support. We all need tribes. Pick carefully. Nurture the relationship. Add and drop members as needed. I tell my young female relatives to cultivate their tribe as much as they cultivate their insta accounts. Tribes are necessary. Relationships come and go, family members leave, but your tribe is always there.