I have talked about finding your tribe. We all do it, but what the hell is it?
Our tribes are people with whom we feel we belong. Our first tribe is our parents and it expands to grandparents, aunts, cousins as we get older. We feel comfortable with our tribe, we belong. And that’s the most important thing to us.
We start school and our tribe expands. We choose and have friends. Our tribe really doesn’t get smaller even though cousins can move or go to different schools and somehow we lose them. But our tribe continues to expand. As we continue through school, we really want to be part of some specific tribe. Maybe it’s the popular kids in school, or the jocks or the geeks. We desperately want to be part of a tribe. So much so that we will alter our behavior to become part of one. We join clubs, teams, boy or girl scouts or other activities to become part of a particular tribe.
Our parents are ousted from our tribe because we are learning to be independent and don’t think we need them anymore. Cousins, aunts, uncles are around, but our most important tribe members are contemporaries.
When we arrive at college, we might pledge a sorority or fraternity. We gain an entirely new tribe. One, we hope, lasts for life.
As we graduate from college, our tribe changes again. We can now choose our tribe more easily than we ever could before. We have jobs, so co-workers become part of our tribe. Often not all co-workers, because we can choose our members now. Our parents might rejoin our tribe, as might brothers and sisters, but they are most likely not close tribe members. Those we reserve to ourselves and other members.
There are huge tribes in our country. Some choose the military. Now that’s a tribe - maybe the largest one of all. As we age, we choose to join churches, another huge tribe. Our tribes can change so we believe what the rest of the tribe believes and act accordingly. But we always search for a tribe.
All of us want a tribe. Gay folks want to have gay folks in their tribe, men love tribes; they join Elks and Masons and other tribes that wear special hats and have special handshakes or secret codes. Women join bridge clubs, or church groups. They usually do without special hats and secret handshakes, but these are tribes, nonetheless.
As we age, our tribes become smaller. We begin realize that all the outward trappings of a tribe are not as important as they once were. The friendships are treasured, but nonsense needn’t be tolerated any more.
Oh, did I forget one tribe? Yup, I did. Some of us become disabled along the way. We might even start out disabled. We really want the same tribes as you do, but most of the time are not allowed to be members. We are different and are treated as such. We are our own tribe and act as such. Wheelchair riders always acknowledge each other. Scooter riders do too. Because of limitations on physicality, our tribes can’t often meet. We have to depend on others. So our tribes are looser, not as organized.
What we want is to be members of whatever tribe we choose, knowing tribes will change as we grow. We so want to belong. Being a member is the most important thing in life. And mostly we don’t have that choice, or any choice, for that matter.
And that is so very sad.