Was thinking earlier today, about how we connect with people.  There was a flurry of posts on my Facebook feed talking about ‘tribes’ – finding yours, the need to identify with one, how freeing it is when you feel you fit.

Freeing – I kinda think its actually the opposite….

I’ve found my tribe – a group of people with whom an interest is shared, where it becomes easier to ‘be you’ – a number of times.  And don’t get me wrong – anything that makes it possible for you to be you should be celebrated.  But when being able to be you is contingent on others approving of that you – well, is that really helping you to be you?  When that group or tribe holds the power to accept or reject – to pull you into their fold or to choose to turn on you and leave you feeling ostracized…Is that really a plus?

Is that where you want to be?

To feel that connection and then have it pulled out from under you?  Or even if its never fully pulled – but instead simply threatened to be.  Threatened by innuendo and subtle pressure to conform.  You know, like high school.  When you are wordlessly challenged at times to choose between that which serves the group, or that which you know is a better path.

Or is it better look for a different way to find connections.  To look instead at individuals and make those connections – sure, there may be quite a few that you connect with in one group – but if you are basing your relationship with them on how you feel around each person rather than an artificially constructed group….doesn’t that seem to set you up to be better served?

I honestly thought the kind of bullying and immature shunning would be left behind in high school.  But in my 49 and 11.5/12ths years on this planet, i’ve found you never really leave it behind.  And while it is possible to peacefully drift away from a group you at one time felt a part of, I’ve found in more recent years it seems those who identify as a tribe with a common purpose are just as bad, or worse, than those i encountered in high school.  All it takes is one member of said group to deem you no longer worthy and doubt is cast over all…even those you did feel those individual connections seem helpless to not follow the Queen Bee’s to protect their standing in the tribe.  For them its rather like watching a car crash – they seem horrified to not be able to put your individual relationship ahead of their desire to fit in, to feel a part of a larger whole – horrified, but helpless to not fall into line with the larger whole.

While i was musing over this, my daughter turned on House Bunny.  Have you seen it?  Fit right in.  Ugly duckling turned swan finds her tribe at the Playboy Mansion amongst all the other drop dead gorgeous Bunnies.  Lives in blissful connection with other women with whom she feels at home and happy with.  Until one jealous Bunny decides to ruin it for her and turns the other Bunnies against her.  In the ultimate reversal, at the ancient age of 27, she is not only shunned, but turned out of her home, rejected by her cat, and forced to live in her ancient car – not even the Pink Prius the generous Heff had gifted her. 

She scrambles to pull her life back together and finds a mini mansion that feels like home – on sorority row of the nearest university.  She feels an instant connection with those in the house, and even when ridiculed and shunned from that house, she soldiers on and finds a group of misfits to slide into.  Perfect, right?  Until of course she empowers this tribe of women to be become a self serving tribe and any compassion and broken-ness they felt as individuals is magically wiped away.  They determine their lives to be better, and that the hapless tribe seeking Shelly is now a detriment, and she is yet again sent away.

Somewhere inside Shelly there actually is a woman with a beautiful heart – she spends the movie serving others in the only ways she knows how….and throughout, she learns what she needs to and is able to choose which group she wants to be with – and its a choice driven by her sense of self, the practice she has had in being her – not because she feels as if she needs the group to feel safe – but because she honestly misses the individuals in the group. The cruel sorority exclusion model is chipped away, and some others learn the value of choosing people as your people rather than choosing to fit into a tribe.

Screenwriters are always so kind as to wrap things up so nicely for us….but i’ve watched as many of the real humans i’ve encountered in the last couple of decades talk a great game on love and inclusiveness only to push all of that aside when push comes to shove and they are serving their tribe.  Thankfully for me, I have found a blessed number of souls that are seeking real connections and not to simply be a part of the group. 

I think, to really be you, you need to be able to both serve a group, and let it serve you.  And if that symbiotic relationship doesn’t seem to exist – then that group is destined to fail you.  Or maybe you are destined to fail you by giving your power away.

Be you.  Give love.  But don’t give up yourself in the name of your tribe xo

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