Your girls. Your squad. Your besties. Your future bridesmaids. Your sorority sisters. Your soulsisters. Your TRIBE. When you take a look at successful women in the media many of them credit their successes to hard work and discipline but almost always they also mention their tribe. Whether it’s just one friend or a group of lifelong girlfriends, the pattern is that they haven’t done it alone. They had women who were pushing them from behind and catching them during the occasional fall that comes with climbing the ranks of ladders to success.
Google “finding your tribe”, or a variation of that and you’ll find think-pieces and articles created to guide women on finding the Gayle King to their Oprah or the Kelly to their Beyonce. I’m currently writing this piece from a hotel in Philadelphia where I stayed to attend a nearby medical conference. Luckily for me, I got to spend parts of the weekend with my former roommates/ best friends from college who are also medical students like me. We haven’t all been together since 2013 and have been relying on facetime, texts and the occasional snapchat to keep in touch. We were able to come together and have effortless laughs and conversations over yummy Mexican food and margaritas, reminiscing about our college experiences and also talking about our futures.
Whenever I have opportunities to spend time with my closest and oldest friends, it reminds me what friendship is and how much I truly cherish them to be a part of my inner circle aka my tribe. A quick google search will bring you articles on why your tribe is important but I think few expand beyond the generic “find like-minded and supportive women” type of advice. I feel very blessed to have a group of women who I know have my back always. These are my future bridesmaids, Godmother of my future babies, sisters, confidants, cheerleaders and so much more. Here’s some lessons I’ve learned in regards to friendships and forming a tribe and support system of awesome women:
1. Your tribe should not be your only outlet
Like any relationship or friendship, it’s unhealthy to solely rely on someone for everything. Whether it’s one friend or a few, dependence isn’t cute and no one likes a clingy friend. If you find yourself clinging to someone or if you find someone else clinging to you, perhaps there’s deeper issues that need to be uprooted. At the end of the day, your tribe is supposed to complement you NOT COMPLETE you and this goes for all friendships and relationships.
2. Your tribe should not be less happy for you than you are for them
We should not do things in order to get them back. If you support someone, don’t do it just so that they can support you but take note if they don’t. When they get a promotion, get into grad school, publish a paper and you’re ready to launch fireworks and celebrate their accomplishments, take note if they hit you with an “Oh that’s nice” after you share your good news. I have been in situations where I have literally cheered and cried tears of happiness for the blessings that others have received and in return have been dismissed when I share my good news. If your tribe is not happy for you during your wins (big or little) then perhaps they’re not the ones for you.
3. Your tribe should not be fickle
Weather, seasons, time, fashion, and trends all change but your relationship with the girls in your inner circle should not. If your friendship goes in and out just like the seasons then something is wrong. Don’t get me wrong, some friendships end and people grow apart. But if someone you consider close to you is your friend one day and not the next then perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to give them access to your inner circle.
4. Your tribe isn’t about who you’ve known the longest
Length of friendship is not equal to quality of friendship. I’m not saying to throw away all of your childhood friends, but what I am saying is that you can have friends that you are closer to that you haven’t known as long and sometimes your bestie from 1996 isn’t in your inner circle. Don’t feel obligated to keep your oldest friends close to you just because you’ve known them forever. There’s more qualifiers to being a good friend than length of the friendship. If you’re keeping someone close only because you’ve known them forever, then perhaps you may want to look into reprioritizing your relationships.
5. Just because someone helped you through XYZ situation, it doesn’t mean that they’re automatically your tribe
In #5 we said that just because someone has known you since diapers doesn’t mean that they automatically made the cut to be in your tribe. The same goes for those who helped you through tough life situations. Just because they helped you through a breakup, or were there for you when your mom died, it doesn’t mean that they’re automatically your bestie. I have been in situations where I felt guilty about letting go of friendships or drifting apart from those who helped me through hard situations. But at the end of the day, don’t feel pressured to keep someone close to you out of obligation. You can still appreciate all they’ve done for you and remain friends but it doesn’t mean they have to be in your inner circle.
Here’s the thing, you may have friends that fall into some of these categories. I’m not saying not to consider them friends and I’m not saying to immediately cut those ties. All I’m saying is that TRIBE is deeper than friendship. Your tribe is your core, your inner circle and the ones who would go to bat for you just as you would for them. Have discretion when choosing who makes the cut. If someone falls into some of these categories, it doesn’t mean they should automatically be excluded from making their way into your inner circle of friends but I do think it’s worth rethinking at the very least.
Also, realize that forming a group of power women who you call your closest friends takes time. Don’t be desperate for friends and let anyone in. There was a time after college when I felt isolated and alone and like no one had my back. But now I have a core group of women who I can call upon for anything. I wasn’t actively trying to “build my tribe” but I simply sought out like-minded, positive women to befriend and be genuine with. Looking back, I’m not sure when exactly my tribe “formed” but I do know that I am thankful for each of them today. If you’re in a place where you feel like you’re the odd one out, or like you haven’t found “your people” yet, then don’t worry. Relationships and friendships take time. Continue to be genuine while doing the things you love. Also don’t fall into the social media trap that you need a group of “bad b*tches” by your side. All you need is one person… just look at Oprah; she really only rocks with Gayle!