A lot has happened in the past few weeks.
Not in terms of my workload increasing – I’m a housewife and truly our work is never done.
No, it is more of a transition or transformation in myself. I can feel it evolving, emerging.
The truth is I have never really been comfortable with myself. And I have never really fitted in. And it bothered me. A lot. So much so, it is a big part of why I became an alcoholic. Being the good time girl at parties gained me many friends. All of whom left when I became sober.
Tribe finding and belonging has always proven somewhat problematic for me. I join tribes (groups), but for some reason, I just don’t seem to fit them very well. And I usually feel the need to leave.
And it is really hard to leave a tribe. You feel bad. You don’t want to be perceived as a bad person. You certainly don’t want to be left out in the cold. Our very mental health depends on not being left out in the cold. Alone. With no tribe.
Having and belonging to a tribe is very vogue right now. The word itself – TRIBE – is every bloody where. We are encouraged to join a tribe, to find our tribe, to start a tribe.
It is all about connection. As humans, we are hardwired to need connection – to our family, to our friends, to online groups. And, we are led to believe, the more of a tribe we have, the more connected we are. Which is a brilliant thing, apparently. And, if you are blogging for commercial reasons, the more money you can potentially make. Or, if you are a personal blogger like me, the less isolated and alone you feel. Ergo if you don’t really do tribes very well, you aren’t connected and are a bit of a loner.
And this bothered me for the longest time.
I didn’t want to not belong. I didn’t want to be a loner. I didn’t want to not have a tribe.
And I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just fit in and be one of the tribe and sing my merry song.
And then I realised.
First of all, I have connection. A lot of connection. To my small family and my very few friends. I realised that it isn’t the amount of people you are connected to, but the quality of those connections we have in our lives that are important. I cannot be measured by how many Facebook “friends” I have or how many likes my blog page has, or how many views it gets. Connection is relative. As long as we have just one person in our lives with whom we connect, we are doing well.
Secondly, I don’t do tribes because at heart I am a bit of a non-conformist. Well, really A LOT non-conformist. I always have been. I really hate to be pigeon-holed into any type of box. This means if I join a tribe, it will often be that I won’t agree with everything it says. Tribe mentality is usually about towing the tribe line. You only need to go onto various Facebook groups to see this. Any person that dares to question the ethos of the group, or something that the owner of the group has said, is immediately maligned as a traitor and ordered to leave the group to “find your own damn group!” Independent thinking is not encouraged. And I have a massive issue with this.
Thirdly, we seem to have replaced friends and real connection with real people with having a “tribe”. We live our lives online and increasingly we look to those online communities to validate us. This, of course, on the one hand is a good thing. If we have a rare condition, it is an amazing vehicle by which to connect to others afflicted with the same thing. But it is also a dangerous way to be. We are not looking inwardly to tap into those parts of us that enable us to feel validated in our own right. Instead, we look to our “tribe” to tell us how good we are – as people, as business owners, as artists, as retailers, as bloggers. This is a recipe for disaster. Well, it was for me.
Fourthly, we see the word “authentic” being bandied about a lot. I used to hate that word. To me, it was another buzz word. Another cliche. Another way to make people feel like they weren’t doing the right thing, because if they were (being authentic) then they would fit in (with the tribe).
But then, I reframed it.
Authenticity is really living life to the beat of your own drum. And in my case the beat is odd. The beat doesn’t have a massive tribe playing the same rhythm. And one day, I woke up to that fact. And I was okay with it. I have a few people in my life who know my beat is odd, and who accept me, quirky beat and all. And that is all I need.
And this is why I really don’t like the word tribe:
It requires conformity. It requires a herd mentality. Tribes hark back to small clans who needed to stick together to survive. There was a leader (usually the strongest male) who would make decisions for the tribe and the tribe would conform because to not conform would mean death. Independent thought – non-conformity – meant expulsion because it would threaten the tribe survival.
We no longer live in that world. Our world provides plenty for survival. Yet, our mentality has remained the same. We still are genetically wired to conform as a herd. We still want the tribe. We want to belong.
But not me. And a few others. And so we sit on the sidelines. Not belonging. Not conforming.
Of course, wanting to belong to a tribe is not a bad thing, not at all. For some people it is needed for their very survival as a person. And most people do it so well. But I don’t.
And this no longer bothers me.
I think that is called self confidence. I’ve never had that before. I like it.