we need our tribes

I’m neurotic. In the technical sense, in that I have more than one diagnosis.

I like to call myself that. It gives me a feeling of satisfaction and comfort. I know it’s not supposed to. We’re not supposed to label ourselves. I should say “I’m empahla and I suffer from neuroticism.”

“Supposed to” is a lot like “should” however, and that would be breaking the eleventh commandment, “thou shalt not should on thyself.”

Labelling yourself helps with establishing an identity and for some of us, that’s hard. It’s comforting to ally yourself to a group. We all feel better when we have a tribe. Who the tribe consists of is less important – whether you identify as a fly-fisher or an under-the-bed-checker is irrelevant. What matters is the feeling of belonging.

Feeling alone, feeling like an alien, feeling like you don’t belong anywhere is hard. It’s isolating, and isolation doesn’t lead to anything good. Dark feelings are amplified when you hide them away from the world. When you keep to yourself and don’t share. We all need connection. We all need to be heard.

We all need allies.

We are not limited in our group membership; we can belong to more than one. We can belong to as many groups as we have pieces – I’m neurotic, I’m a single parent, I’m a reader, and a writer. There are more traits that I identify with, but the point is, I have pieces. I can fit into a variety of slots. I don’t have to be alone. I have kin out in the world, people that share my traits.

The trick is finding them. The trick is joining up.

It’s easy to stay alone in this day and age. It’s easy to think that we are connected by the worlds we find online. It’s disconcerting to realize that it’s not enough. You can’t hide away from the world and still make the connections you need. Finding tribes online is good, it’s just not enough. You need tribes in the real world as well.

That’s the rub and the kicker for me. I don’t like the real world. I don’t like going out into it. There are people there and people are messy and complicated. Life is messy and complicated. Online is easier and safer; it’s just not as rewarding. It doesn’t feed our need in the same way.

I’m not a hugger but even I need human contact occasionally. I’m not a joiner but I still need a place where I feel like I can belong. I’ve got a few.

I have my small circle of friends. I have my therapists. I have the classroom. I have the volunteer group I belong to. Each group matches a part of me, each group feeds the need to belong in a small way so that ultimately, I feel more connected. I feel more grounded, more tied to this place. More invested in my life here.

Tribes and a sense of belonging give us that.

I need my group, I need to be surrounded by like-minds.

I am empahla and I’m neurotic and I like feeling like I belong.

4 thoughts on “we need our tribes

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