I found my tribe along time ago when I started buying Psychologies Magazine, the first magazine that wasn't telling me how to dress, how to eat, how to do my hair and make up. That wasn't posting pictures of photoshopped super models in their undies that made the short, curvy me feel inadequate.
It felt like I'd found my voice in a world full of reasons to be perfect. A place where imperfection is fine, where imperfection is normal because there is no such thing as perfect.
Many years later I am older though not necessarily wiser, and my dream of one day writing for Psychologies came true when I became an Ambassador. I also gained my new tribe.
Firstly the Ambassadors tribe where I've made so many friends, a gang of likeminded ladies like me. Secondly, the Psychologies Life Leap Club where so many inspiring women who subscribe to Psychologies post. A safe place to be open and honest, to share our hearts, to be heard without fear of retribution, being trolled or otherwise.
Our tribe. Our gang. Our family.
As humans we need some interaction and connection, even the most introverted of us need to have some connection somewhere, if only via social media, or with one or two really close friends. But it is good to connect.
We are all part of many gangs and each one will impact you in a different way, finding your tribe is so important so you can feel you belong and not alone.
This last few weeks I have met with fellow entrepreneurs and all have commented on feeling lonely and sick of the social media "Look how wonderful I am doing in my business. messaging that is out there". They longed to chat with someone honestly about how difficult it is and how lonely it can get. They wanted a tribe, and in this case a one to one tribe, to connect with someone.
Because even when you are surrounded by people, you can be so alone and this is where connection is really important.
Via Psychologies I have got involved in other gangs too, In 2017 when John Williams ran the Screw Work Break free challenge, I became part of that gang and with it made some life long friendships. Many are people I've only met on social media, but a few we have spoken via video call and we are there for each other no matter what happens.
Fo many people though they only have two gangs - family and work.
I used to fall into this bracket, I had a job that meant I travelled a lot and couldn't commit to classes, groups or meeting up with people. And often I was tired, so tired I interacted with those who I had to, not out of choice but out of obligation. This is no way to survive, it can be so lonely and can take you into deep dark places. Everyone needs a shining light, and your special gang, however big or small it is, can provide this in your darkest hour.
As I became more senior in my role in work there was less room to have a tribe in my workplace. Most jobs I've had I've made friends with people and continue to stay in contact with them. Currently I'm reconnecting with people from a job where I adored the people, just not the company we worked for. It's lovely to connect with that tribe who have so much meaning for me. Some of these people really do make my heart flutter with joy.
But I spent 7 years working in a place where my tribe was predominately the people who worked for me. I had comments made about the team I managed "they'd jump off a cliff for you if you told them to" was one I had. My response "No, they'd ask me why we needed to get to the bottom of the cliff and make suggestions and put together a plan as to how we could achieve it. If I said to kill ourselves they'd tell me to sod off". I was made to feel bad for having a loyal team and it made me question if I should be more of a "bitch", but I know that the carrot is always better than the stick, so I refused to change my style to match others in the business. I felt alone.
I was still a step away from my team, I was their manager and this was when I found being a manager was so lonely. I only felt connected with one or two other managers and they were not based where I was, so we didn't see each other often. Often being a high level manager, especially a woman, can be a very lonely affair. I cared too much about the job, the people and the company. These were the criticisms bestowed on me at every appraisal, because it felt like these appraisals were always about pointing out the faults, not giving praise and how I was different to everyone else. Which made me feel more alone.
When I resigned lots of people wanted to meet me one to one for lunch or a drink. I met with many of them and I remember thinking. "why hadn't they asked before?" they weren't even people I realised wanted to make a friendship, I had no idea. I'd approached others but every time they'd backed out at the last minute for being busy. Had I had that friendship, that gang, and that support, perhaps I would have stayed? But I now know I am part of tribes that are more important to me.
It's really good to be part of a number of different tribes, because we have so many parts of us that need to connect in some way. If you are a mother you don't want to talk children all the time, so having a tribe where you can be a woman will make you feel more complete. Having a tribe where you talk with different age groups opens your mind to the possibilities in the world. I love connecting with men and women in their 20's and 30's and have some really intense conversations about really important things with them. I often wonder where these people were when I was in my 20's and 30's.
I'm part of a special tribe, where complete strangers all wave at each other. I drive a Landrover Defender (the proper original Landrover) - there is an unwritten rule that we wave at each other, not all do it, but most do and we can be on opposite sides of the dual carriageway and wave and flash our lights. We toot our horns and if we pull into a car park we park next to each other. People who have ever driven or owned a Landrover come and chat to you when you park up, and if another woman Landrover driver goes past we wave like mad fools. Those tiny moments, so simple, and often so silly, fill my heart with joy. Everyone smiles, everyone feels connected with a one and a half tonne piece of machine, which most of us have named.
I'm part of the Dr Martens tribe, we nod at each, come over and comment on our boots, our style, it makes complete strangers chat and talk. I think Berlin may be my spiritual home for this side of me.
I'm part of the mad hair tribe where random women run up to me saying they love my hair and then we chat and talk about hair colour.
I'm part of the gardening tribe, wildlife tribe, the surfing and body boarding tribe, the packaging tribe, the environmental tribe, my village tribe, the Welsh tribe, the small business tribe, the women entrepreneurs tribe, the witch tribe and I lead my own tribes too.
A tribe can be you and one person against the world. Or it can be you and a million people. But being part of a multi-tribal world is so important. And you have the power to form your own tribes and be a shining light for others.
If you are reading this then you are part of one of these amazing tribes;
Psychologies subscribers Life Leap Club, and Psychologies Ambassadors.
or one of my tribes.
And I see the amazing support, help and wonder we get from each other in these safe places, in our gang where we can be there for each other, even if we do not meet face to face. Though face to face is so important, so do try and meet up if you can, find a local tribe, such as the Psychologies Life Leap meet ups that many are organising up and down the country. A reason to connect in person is always good however introverted we are.
But I will say although social media can bring us together we also need to ensure it does not push us apart, it is so easy for one tribe to pit itself against another tribe and many times there is no need. We may have different values and beliefs in each gang we are part of, but we need to know when to express tolerance and when there is a true need to speak out.
As women we often find ourselves in a tribe that is ignored by the world and if you are a woman of a none white background, I imagine that this is even worse. But our tribes can be small and come together to be one, and break away again to small gangs who support and love each other.
We are powerful on our own, but sometimes we need our own group to help us fight some of the battles. We sometimes need our group to help us celebrate the wonder in life and we sometimes need our gang to help us see the magic in the world once more.
So go out and find your tribe, or create your own.
Sending love and light
The Magical Mojo Coach
Join my free tribe The Mojo Coaching Club here