Last week, I had a conversation with a friend about making new friends and they mentioned something about “finding their tribe.” Well, the phrase has sort of stuck with me over the past couple days and I’ve found myself thinking a lot about friendship and how I’ve grown within friendships and what they have come to mean to me over the past couple decades of my life.
Growing up, we never really think about making our friends (maybe our parents did, putting us in Gymboree and all other manner of activities), it just sort of happened. You went to school or daycare or whatever, and there were kids that you played with. You ran around, building sand castles, killing bugs and rigging up toy parachutes for your GI Joes and then throwing them off the roof of the house. Or maybe you played different games. That’s what I did.
The point is our childhood friendships were effortless. The more complex we became, emotionally, the more complex our friendships became. Friends were suddenly capable of betrayal or being too clingy. You suddenly had to start choosing friends wisely. Or, if you were like me in high school, you had to start looking for friends. And when you didn’t find too many people that were OK hanging out with an awkward, flat-chested choir nerd, adolescence could be a sort of friendship wasteland (let me state right here that the friends I DID make in high school are still very dear to me. You know who you are.).
Then I grew up and went to college. When I went to college, I made a conscious decision that the shy little high schooler was gone. I replaced her with an outgoing social butterfly.
But even in college, it was hard to find those friendships that were really meaningful. As someone who was completely new to the idea of having more than 7 friends, I made some bad decisions along the way and trusted the wrong people. I wound up making a lot of friends that had a really bad influence on my behavior, resulting in a pretty low GPA and a near loss of grants and scholarships (the first time I went to college).
But as my twenties continued, I matured and so did my friendships. I started gaining various groups of friends, which was something I had never experienced before. Instead of having one core group of friends, I had all these different groups of friends. And it was amazing.
I have friends from Twitter, friends from roller derby, friends from Yelp, friends from work, friends from college (the second time I went to college), friends from my sorority (yes, I was in a sorority). And all of these circles of friends enhance me in different ways. While I am always myself, each group highlights certain characteristics more.
With my derby friends, I am quite possibly the most raunchy, raw woman I can be, and that’s ok, because those bitches give it right back. With my group of friends I met through a fellow graduate from the J-School, I am completely adventurous. Anything can happen when we get together. Yelp, Twitter and Work… shit. We drink. And other stuff too, of course, but the conversations are always very different.
I, of course, have a few very close friends that I trust with just about everything, but I do enjoy having many groups of friends. Perhaps it’s because I don’t think there’s just one group out there designed especially for me. I’m a person with wildly diverse tastes, so I end up with wildly diverse friends.
So, I guess maybe I don’t have a tribe. Maybe I’m a nomad. It might sound lonely to some, but I find it very fulfilling.
Although, I still would like to find a friend to make toy parachutes with again. We can go up on a rooftop and throw them off with GI Joes attached. What do you say, are you game?