I believe that after food, water and air, our basic human need is to feel included. What are the qualities that make a community? The anthropological reason for community was survival. If one couldn’t count on community, one wouldn’t survive the seasons. Community was the tribe. The tribe was the backbone. There wasn’t necessarily one set of parents but a whole community making sure that to keep the younger members safe.
In a modern context, community might be a religious institution. Or a group with common interests. My community could be my family or my political party. It could be my college friends or a club.
What defines community: “An experience of fellowship as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and/or goals.”
Some of you may be trying to be part of communities which do not further your growth. In fact they may hamper your ability to be vulnerable, be yourself or even to just show up. Know the difference. Know where you feel supported and where you have to be more careful, including your family or old friends.
So who is your tribe? What is the difference?
As humans we have a need to be deeply seen, deeply heard and deeply understood. Your tribe are individuals who can take off their masks of “looking good” and get down in a vulnerable messy place with you. People in your tribe are willing to be with you in the joy and the sorrow. They don’t need to “fix” anything but are wiling to “hang” with you through everything.
Some of you may recognize your tribe as that friend you’ve known for 40 years. Others may become aware that old friends are your community, but they aren’t really your tribe. Communities and tribes can change. They are transient because we all go through life stages where our needs and difficulties change.
You may read this and think, “I’ve got lots of community, but who is in my tribe?” You may realize that you are in other’s tribes but they aren’t in your tribe. Some of us recognize that the people we thought were our tribe, like family, may only be our community. They aren’t really willing to see the truth of our hearts enough to be our tribe, and that is alright.
Either a community or a tribe can be appropriate if you are getting your needs met.
How to develop a tribe? Slowly. You have to risk yourself to show up and be seen. Give someone a small piece of yourself and see if they can hold it. See if they can be with you without judgment. See if they can avoid fixing and simply be present with your small piece and the feeling. Then try another piece. Slowly you might find a soft place where you can truly be your whole self.
And if they can’t hold the piece of you? You may be deeply disappointed at the person who fails to include adequately, fails to support your emotional vulnerabilities and fails to empower you towards further emotional/spiritual growth. Understand that as good information. It doesn’t mean you were wrong to try and it doesn’t mean they were wrong either. It’s just valuable understanding that the person isn’t going to be your tribe. No judgment.
I have people in my tribe who I only see once a year sometimes. But each time I show up, I know that I can be my fully flawed self in all it’s forms and feel deeply loved and accepted. It doesn’t matter that I don’t see these people often, because just knowing that I could, if I needed to, is often enough. And there is the phone and the internet.
So the lesson here is where do you feel included? Where do you feel supported? Where can you be your best self? You are enough the way you are. Find those that share your vision and feel included. Reach out to others and stay cognizant of their need for inclusion. Be open-minded to deep vulnerable connection. It is a joy like no other.