“This Is My Tribe” :: Why I’ll Never Say That Again

We’ve all seen it. We’ve probably been guilty of it. It’s trendy these days, especially in the mommy world. Labeling your group of friends as your “tribe” which inadvertently sends the message of either “you’re NOT in my tribe” or “you should now feel insecure about whether you have a tribe or not”. I’m not pointing fingers. I’m staring straight at my own guilty mommy face.

Maybe you’re like I was. Maybe you’re obliviously satisfied with just thriving inside your own “tribe” and maybe even going as far as boasting about said tribe. Finding your identity in your perfect circle with Jericho-sized walls built around it. You’re very kind to the faces that don’t belong in your tribe, because you are a genuinely kind person, but you just don’t have room for any more tribe members.

And everyone knows it.

My hubby and I were in a discussion about the growing number of moms who struggle with identity, being seen and where they stand socially, etc. (present company included). I brought up this trend of announcing your tribe and his response was, “There’s absolutely nothing healthy about this whatsoever!” I agree. Am I saying that longevity of friendships shouldn’t exists? Or we should cease the praising of loyal people in our lives? OF COURSE NOT! 

When we say that a certain group of friends are our “tribe”, we are expressing that our space for more friendships is limited, and that if you do become my friend, you’ll most likely be kept in the outer circle. 

And for some of us, that might actually be the truth. Maybe you have found a happy place of inner and outer circles and are not bothered by people knowing that. If that’s the case, I’m not judging. But for me, I’ve had a change of heart. And I have Wichita to thank for that!

I want to share some personal examples of how we experienced some simple but very intentional open arms when we first arrived on scene here in Wichita. Our family moved to here from Memphis, TN 2 years ago this October. Within a few months we felt so welcomed, loved, and included. Even though I’m sharing our stories, these examples can be, and should be, played out in any city!

Invite a family to join your family to something in your weekly routine. 

We were invited to a family’s soccer practice for their young son at the YMCA. We had only lived here a few days, so we decided to go check it out. It ended up being so fun and we met other families that 2 years later are some of our dearest friends! What was a simple invitation to something their family was already doing, was a huge long term impact on our family.

Talk to the other mom at the park. 

We were checking out our neighborhood park shortly after moving here. There was only one other mommy and her daughter there. Our daughters began playing which then led to the mommy and I engaging in small talk. Fast forward 2 years, that random mommy at the park is one of my closest friends and our daughters are inseparable. What if she would have not spoken to me that day? Think of how you could change another mommy’s situation by simply making small talk with her at the park. 

Keep calling.

I’ve been guilty of giving out one act of kindness to a new family in town, then moving on with my life. There are a handful of families here that simply never checked us off their list. Who most likely, since being born and raised here, could gloat about the longevity of their “tribes”. Even if they have one, (which no doubt they do) they have never made us feel like they didn’t have space in their lives for us. 

Don’t just invite them to church, take them there.

We were invited to church. Nothing earth shaking about that right? Well, the family that invited us also gave us their address so that we could meet them at their house, follow them to church, walk in with, help us get our kids checked in, then let us sit with them. Whew! That’s a church invite unlike any we’d ever experienced. Are ya’ll taking notes?!

So, here is what I have learned: Having my tribe in Memphis due to the longevity of friendships wasn’t my fault, just like not having a tribe here in Wichita because I was new wasn’t my fault either. Having a tribe, or not having one has nothing to do with the ability to BE a friend. Let’s end this tribe trend, tear down walls, and raise our families to leave space for welcoming friends. New and old. 

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4 Responses to “This Is My Tribe” :: Why I’ll Never Say That Again

  1. Jill October 2, 2017 at 2:50 pm #

    “You’re very kind to the faces that don’t belong in your tribe, because you are a genuinely kind person…”, and then the rest of the sentence says “but you just don’t have room for any more tribe members.” Where is the amount list of how many people can “join” your “tribe”? Purposeful exclusion b/c “you think” there’s enough people in your “friends circle”, is not kind…which means you are NOT a genuinely kind person. Inviting people (women, specifically, because this is a women’s blog, and we’re talking about women’s groups) who may be friend-less, or new to town and in need of a friend IS kind.

    • Kristy October 12, 2017 at 4:23 pm #

      I wouldn’t go that far. I think it’s healthy to know your time/energy/relationship boundaries and to know that in that particular season of life you really can’t add another friend into your life and actually be able to give them the “friendship” they are seeking. It’s also not kind to them to hang out once or twice, but truly not have the time to grow the friendship, and in the end make them feel dropped.

      I’ve always assumed that people who need to post pictures of themselves with their “tribe” every time they go out and do something are extremely insecure and are trying to prove that now they are “someone.” They know what they are doing… and they want to provoke jealousy. Just don’t be that jerk. You can hang out with your friends without the whole world knowing.

      My best advice for the new/lonely moms looking for friends is to start getting out and doing what you enjoy doing. Get involved in something. Don’t be afraid to show who you are to people. I personally am one who would say that I don’t have room in my life for another friend and wouldn’t search out someone else. But if I ran across someone who was actively involved in the things I have a passion for and our personalities clicked then who knows… kindred spirits!

      For mom’s with younger children, mom’s groups can be fantastic place to get to know other moms. (That’s where I met most of my current closest friends, ten years ago.) And go a few times, even if the first time around you didn’t feel like you fit in. When someone is new to something they tend to give off a lot of judgement and assumptions that may not be true. And sometimes the other people attending are new too, but because you are new you just assume they weren’t friendly and inviting to you… when they were feeling the same way.

  2. Christi October 9, 2017 at 7:05 am #

    This is one of the best posts I’ve read on here. Moving cross country 3 times in my married life has meant leaving those deep friendships and connections behind and having to start at ground zero and rebuild in each new place. It’s also meant navigating children through this as well. What I’ve found as the outsider looking in is that having a tribe prevents so many from seeing the needs beyond their tribe and I don’t see that as unkind or intentional in most cases but just a failure to look beyond the comfortable and familiar and to see that there are others standing in the shadows and waiting to be invited. Thank you for sharing your perspective and these tips. They serve as a reminder to me to reach out to others as well.

  3. Sarah October 11, 2017 at 6:49 am #

    How about we don’t use tribe at all because it’s cultural appropriation, and I don’t throw that word
    around ever. It’s a slang and should never be used by adults. Why can’t we call them friends? We have a need for exclusivity, to feel special, to seem important so we use words like tribe, or squad, or crew.
    Your friends know who you are and you know who they are. You know the people you can depend on and vis a versa. To whom do we say “tribe” to anyway? Certainly not the members of the group, but to someone else, furthering the point we want to sound cool and hip and special.
    Sometimes life gets in the way of reaching out to someone. I don’t think we need to initiate contact with every new Neighbor or mom at the park (unless you want to), but be open to new people in your life. Don’t write someone off because you already have friends and they don’t seem to fit, because you never know what that person is going through, or who they might need.
    However, it is ok to be a little selifish. Not everyone wants a ton of friends, not everyone is extroverted enough to initiate contact, not everyone has time coffee date, power walk, story time every day of the week with someone different.
    As long as we are kind to each other and to our neighbors (the collective neighbors not just our next door neighbors), friendships will form naturally, as long as we are open hearted.

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