When I first moved to Pittsburgh last summer, I set out to make friends. Instead, I ended up joining tribes. As a result, I’ve fostered connections to my new community, grown my business, and found better balance in my life. I’ve come to appreciate the importance of tribes - or groups of like-minded people - especially for working parents.
What is a tribe?
When I use the word tribe, I’m talking about a group of people who come together based on similar goals or interests. I’m a member of a group of female entrepreneurs, I served on a committee to plan a school fundraiser, and I started a private Facebook group for people who want to be happier. Each of these is a tribe for me.
The difference between a tribe and a one-on-one relationship is that, obviously, there are more than two people involved. What that means for me is that I have a better chance of finding the connection I need, when I need it. It also means that we make getting together a priority: we have things to do and goals to meet, after all. We make plans and schedule them on our calendars, something that seems to be more difficult to do with my girlfriends.
Another reason I have come to value these groups is because they reflect my priorities right now, and it helps me funnel my time and attention into activities that align with those priorities. Not every interest I have is currently reflected on my weekly schedule or in my contact book, but my most important ones are. I sought out these groups based on my most pressing needs, and the fact that they exist keeps me focused when the trivial threatens to take over.
I need this kind of compartmentalized commitment in my life right now. When your work and family life is both hectic and fluid, it’s so easy to spend all of your time just keeping your head above water. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and to create an entire life built on reacting. It’s easy, too, to drown in it all, to lose yourself.
That’s the best thing about connecting with people who are like you: they remind you who you are. You have a reflection of the parts of you that you want to honor, that you want to not forget when you’re rushing between meetings and play dates. I need that. I think mos of us do.
Of course, no group can take the place of personal, intimate connections. Relationships will always matter. But the need for one doesn’t diminish the benefit of the other, and a group can actually be a good place to find those people with whom you can more closely relate.
What about you? Are you a joiner? Who is your tribe?