Tribe: A group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate."
"a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate."
Women (generally speaking) are really good at tribes. We have lots of shared interests, whether it's spirituality, health and fitness, parenting and of course books (book club is the penultimate example of a tribe). And as a gender we tend to be pretty good at communicating. Personally, my lady tribes are a huge driving force in my life: there's my church ladies, former professional colleagues (my "indoor" book club, as I call it, fits in this category), my high school friends,my writers group, and my newest lady tribe, my fellow women entrepreneurs. Each of these tribes has its own rituals, shared culture and even secret language. Each time the tribe meets, we always pick up right where we left off, regardless if the last time we met was last week or last year (I haven't seen some of my high school friends in over a decade, but I am still crazy in love with those girls). It's probably not a surprise to anyone that one of the most powerful reasons for starting the Outdoor Book Club is my deep and abiding love for my girlfriends, who form one-third of the Outdoor Book Club's trifecta of awesome: women, books & the outdoors.
Why are female relationships so powerful? There are a lot of social and psychological reasons, including our shared struggles: the trials of motherhood, the hurt and pain of broken relationships, the anguish of holding ourselves to impossibly high standards, and the trauma of miscarriages and divorces. Of course, we share a lot of joys and passions as well: the euphoria of holding a new infant, the thrill of a great novel and even the pure joy of finding a great pair of boots — on sale.
What makes a great friendship? As a young adult I often gravitated towards girls who were most like me: same age, same music tastes, came from the same kinds of families and background. But as I've aged, I've noticed my friendships have diversified, become richer and more nuanced. My older women friends offer their support and guidance; my younger friends share their fresh perspectives and energy. I have friends who aren't white or straight or have a college degree, and I love the nuance, intelligence and sense of adventure they bring to my life.
Tips to get the most from your friendships
Minimize inauthentic relationships. These days I have a pretty low tolerance for friendships that are toxic or somehow just don't feel right. If your friends resist your efforts to improve yourself or change for the better, it's probably a good sign that you should let them go. No hard feelings, just time to move on.
Be present: Don't overschedule. This often means putting away the phone, closing down Facebook, and making the time to schedule face-to-face time. There's freedom in the moments that women friends spend together, where we don't have to be anywhere or pretend to be something we're not. Make time for that.
Treat your friends like family. Our very best friends can see our shadow sides — and hold us accountable. Fiercely protect those relationships. The best stuff happens when we can connect, converse, laugh, cry and empathize with each other, without judgment.
Change it up. Another thing that keeps us young is novelty, so while your favorite coffee shop will always hold a special place in your collective heart with your friends, try changing your environment to keep things fresh and fun. Museums, dog parks, new ethnic restaurants and festivals are all great places to add richness and new experiences to your friendships.
Be yourself. My teenage daughter has navigated the murky, dark swamps that are adolescent friendships with an amazing amount of poise. I can't say that I was able to do the same When I was her age, I spent most of my energy with my friends trying to be who I thought they wanted me to be. If you can't be yourself around someone, you'll waste a lot of time and energy on something that's never going to work out. So relax, take a deep breath and be yourself. Everyone likes that version better anyway.
Author Louise Bernikow: Female friendships that work are relationships in which women help each other belong to themselves. If it's been awhile since you've felt the power of a great group of women, coming together over friendship, invest some time in making sure you help other women learn how to better belong to themselves, and to your tribe.