I recall being in a yoga class years ago listening to the visiting instructor talk about her “tribe.” She wasn’t Native American or African. I felt a little confused. Who were these people in her tribe? How did she find them? I wanted one. Shoot, I felt defeated…I came to yoga to feel stretched out and relaxed but left feeling sad about not having a tribe.
Then, last summer when I was at a retreat for school, I met with my new cohort for the first time after switching to the “creativity” specialization in my graduate program. The minute I stepped foot on the property a year before, I somehow felt like I was home, even though I was hundreds of miles away from where I live.
As I sat in an introductory circle with fellow students, some in chairs, some on the floor, I smiled as I watched one male student munch on carrots and hummus like a little woodland creature. There were musical instruments lying in a woven basket by my teacher who couldn’t find her notes but had the coolest beaded necklace on. People talked out of turn. Someone cracked a joke.
And then standing up, holding hands in a circle like the “Whos in Whoville,” we began to sing. And that is when it dawned on me, I had found my tribe. I felt like I could get up and do the “African Anteater Ritual” from my favorite 80’s movie, Can’t By Me Love, and no one would have found it odd. In fact, they most likely would have joined me.
Just before my retreat, while visiting with a dear friend in San Francisco, she too spoke of a friend of hers who had recently changed her graduate school specialization. This friend was feeling conflicted with her chosen path during a rotation in medical school. Her supervisor intervened and advised her to think about the kind of personalities she wanted to spend her long and challenging days with. Whom did she want to learn with, grow with? She suggested she, too, do some soul searching to find her tribe.
Just a few weekends ago, my family and I got to experience my mom’s tribe. We sat in the family room of a quaint cottage she rented on the beach with three of her closest girlfriends. She often talks about their time together as “therapy,” and I can see why. Laughter is true medicine for the soul. And it was so much fun to be in their presence. My seven year old son was even laughing out loud. It made me smile to see my mom with her people. She looked youthful and sun-kissed. After cocktails at lunch and listening to them discuss the men who walked into the restaurant, I realized it was actually their spring break. My husband and I started referring to them as “The Golden Girls Gone Wild.”
On the last day of their ten days together, my mom called to tell me there was a frog in their toilet. Apparently it hopped out and was jumping all over and falling off the walls. My only advice for her was not to lick it. Now that I think of it, maybe the frog thought he had found his people too and was just waiting for a smooch from his princess.
Then yesterday my brother sent me a wonderful article called, What You Learn in your 40’s by Pamela Druckerman from the New York Times. It too was about finding your people. She referenced an interview with Jerry Seinfeld. He spoke about his favorite part of the Emmy Awards being when the comedy writers went onstage to collect their prize. “You see these gnome-like cretins, just kind of all misshapen. And I go, ‘This is me. This is who I am. That’s my group.” Druckerman goes on to say that by your 40s, “you don’t want to be with the cool people; you want to be with your people.”
I wish I could reach out and tell every lonely teenager or adult for that matter, to just hang in there. We all feel misunderstood from time to time. And there may even be times like when I moved across the country my junior year of high school; I didn’t know anyone and had to rely on myself as my own tribe. But eventually the day comes for us all when we find our people, a tribe of our very own. And it is a glorious reward for hanging in there and never giving up.
Here is the link to NY Times article…http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/01/opinion/sunday/what-you-learn-in-your-40s.html?_r=0