Where do I belong?

Where do I belong?  What tribe do I belong to?  This is a common question.  I know I ask it often.  And I think it is good to ask it often, because I think we can belong to more than one tribe at once, and we can change tribes as we go through life.

Our first tribe is most often our family.  Our family, and our definition of family, changes a lot through the years.  Family may include extended family, like cousins and aunts and uncles; it may include people that are considered family – ‘family of choice’ so to speak.  However it is defined, and however you feel about it, family is usually your first tribe.

As we grow, we tend to find other tribes, often through what we do or where we are in our lives.  Parents often find a tribe of other parents to belong to.  It may a tribe of soccer families, or music families, or families whose kids go to the same pre-school.  There is always some unifying thing that holds these tribes together, and the tribes often stay together on some lever long after the unifying factor is gone, with the new unifying factor being ‘our kids did this thing together’.

We often find a tribe through what we do for a living.  A tribe may emerge from a workplace, or from an association of people who do the same thing.  Or a group of entrepreneurs may get together and find they think the same way, or believe the same things.

I have been through many tribes in my years.  Some have lasted for months, some for years.  I have often found it very difficult to leave a tribe when it was time to move on – sometimes there is so much comfort in the known that it is almost unbearable to think of the unknown.

I have sometimes found myself between two tribes, and feeling like I didn’t really fit in either.  When my son was young, I worked full time for a while, then contracted for a while, going between full-time jobs and stay-at-home mom periods.  In those times I often found myself between the tribes of the stay-at-home moms and the work-away-from-home moms.  I wasn’t comfortable in either tribe, and never did find a tribe where I felt I fit in.

Today I find myself with a wonderful tribe of like-minded women who are running businesses, some larger and some smaller.  We are like-minded in that we are struggling with some of the same things, working on the same issues.  But we are different people, with different politics and different backgrounds and different beliefs.  And that may just be one of the things I love the most about my newest tribe – we can discuss, we can agree, we can disagree – it’s all good.

To me the bottom line of finding my tribe is always about community.  I crave the chance to meet with people who ‘get’ what I do, or at least are open to hearing about it.  I crave the chance to listen to what others are doing and thinking.  In general, I crave community.

Here is a link to another blog post on Tribes that I enjoyed.  http://strauberrystudios.typepad.com/strauberrystudios/2010/08/index.html

How about you?  Have you found your tribe?  Do you crave community, or do you prefer to be totally on your own?  Please share, I am truly interested.

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