On Comrades, Connection & Core Tribes

It’s like, you wake up one day and realize that friends will enter and exit your life…and it’s all according to Divine Plan. As you close one decade of your life and enter a new one – you realize that what you require in a friendship goes far beyond how many years you’ve known each other, or how you met.

My 15 year old daughter has taught me a lot about comradery this summer. Transitioning from 8th grade and going on to high school…she has had to make some difficult decisions about which social circles to keep, and which ones to part with. She is the outgoing, friendly, nurturing, life-of-the-party connector type, so she can easily move from circle to circle and just be happy to be around people.

But she started noticing that while she truly loves to connect, and give of herself mentally and emotionally – not everyone reciprocates. She learned that some friends make “mean girl” jokes (you know, the kind that tease you about your body weight, or poke holes into your self-esteem with petty insults then say, I was just kidding, get over yourself!)

I learned that some friends secretly watch your growth and accomplishments and instead of celebrating you, they compete and try to probe to find out, how did YOU do that?

She learned that some friends wish they had your boobs, courage and charisma - but will try to make you feel bad about it instead of celebrating your beauty and uniqueness with kind words and compliments.

I learned that some friends only know how to exist in a relationship with you that’s based on you needing them. For instance, if they at one point gave you advice, they will always try to advise you…even if how you’re living is clearly working for you, and how they are living is clearly not working for them!

She learned that some friends want you to join them on projects and ventures that aren’t at all what you are passionate about…yet you somehow feel obligated to join them. Because that’s what friends do, right?

I learned that even at 39, this can easily still happen. BUT I will no longer be doing this. People will use your gifts to elevate themselves, then conveniently forget once they’ve gotten what they wanted.   

The breakthrough came one evening when I returned from a coffee date with one of my core tribe members, and my daughter rushed to the door and hugged me and told me how she was SO glad I was home. She came into my art studio and sat down and talked with me. She announced that she was “taking a break from friends for a while because she needs to figure out how to set better boundaries”.

I explained to her that even further along the journey, the task of figuring out how to be authentically you, and doing what feels right is always present. True authentic friendships are hard to find. My core tribe members are those I have spiritual connections to. These are people who resuscitate my spirit when I am exhausted. There is no empty chit-chat or gossip when we gather. We talk about hard stuff, we reflect each others’ souls. It literally is a way of saying without words: Hey my sister. I see you. I hear you. And I am with you. And when you struggle, I will reflect the real you, and help you recalibrate and return to your core values.

Most people mean well - however, seasons and circumstance can put you on different paths. When your paths change, so do your conversations. Suddenly and perhaps subtly, your needs, intentions, and motives change you, and you find you can no longer function in the same capacity with the same people. What you long for more than anything is someone who truly understands where you are, and can share with you how they’ve been there. They walk alongside you, cheer you on, and encourage you without giving you the side-eye (i.e you wanna paint all day…whaaaaaa??!! How are you gonna pay your bills??)

Who’s in your core tribe? What do they bring to the table? How do you reciprocate? What’s the best lesson you’ve learned about friendships thus far?