Built to last: The fearless life of a beautiful tribe
By Theresa Birmingham
Fearless friendships enrich everyday life and encourage us to embrace ourselves fully. In the very modified words of Jane Austen, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an individual in search of a tribe is inevitably seeking long-lasting relationships that enrich, excite, temper, and lift them up.” Fearless friendships are those we’ve cultivated from being ourselves, and not having to fear the judgments of others.
Overcoming relationship fears
Where does our fear of relationships come from? Here are some common fears when it comes to relationships and furthering our tribe connections.
Sometimes, our fear is the result of newness. We don’t know where we stand with these new friendships we’re building. Instead, we tend to better understand who we are alone—our Netflix-loving, silent-hiking, solo-traveling, book-reading, and/or gaming selves who live independently isolated, unable to open up accept true intimacy. We comprehend that version of us. But good grief, throw in someone else, and it’s like we’re lost at sea. The good thing: a worthy tribe is amazing at adjusting the sails and helping steer that boat ashore.
Another place where fear comes from in relationships is our fear that we won’t be accepted, that we are unlovable. But see, this isn’t a true tribe if they don’t love you for you. We’ve stressed this idea previously, but the best thing you can do is be yourself when it comes to relationships. Let them see you. Be vulnerable.
Note: if you don’t know who you are, then being honest with your tribe about that is also important. That honesty is you being you and is a great start to figuring out who you are.
People are monsters
We’ve been told that women are venomous, judgemental backstabbers and that men are shallow, mindless, and unemotional. If we follow our cultural conditioning, who’d want to build a tribe? Seriously. I’d be terrified if I believed these things. Some of you may have experienced some of these stereotypes yourself. Yet, they are just that, stereotypes. It is a lie that men and women, in general, are monsters. However, there’s no easy answer in these situations that might help you overcome this long-standing cultural lie, this fear, this demon. The only thing to do is to put yourself out there and try again, using your judgment and your awesome self to find like-minded, good, worthy people.
Note: here’s a great podcast on male friendships and an interesting article on adult female relationships to help you overcome your fear of the monsters in the world.
Yes, failure. Fear permeates a great deal of our lives, including our fear that our relationships will fail. I won’t lie. This is always a possibility. We don’t always connect in the ways we want to, whether with dating, family, or forming a tribe of our own. But as we’ve discussed previously in this column, the point in finding a tribe is to find the people you can be your vulnerable, gifted, open, beautiful self with. Failing means that person was never yours to begin with.
Fearless friendships enrich everyday life
Your tribe is a group of people you aren’t afraid of. They’re the people who mesh with your mind, body, and soul. More importantly, if you want to build that mind, body, and soul connection, you must understand that vulnerability. Opening yourself up is key.
However, what is also key is realizing that some people you thought were your tribe aren’t. They’ll stick through the thin with you. Hell, they might even make it through the thick of it, but in the end, there isn’t that forever connection. This may not be anyone’s fault. It just is. In fact, their presence is often a blessing, leading you to where you need to go. Or vice versa, you are a blessing in their life.
So, you also need to be fearless in pursuing positive, long-lasting relationships that can flourish and enrich your life while also understanding that heartache happens. The saying, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” is so trite, and yet it is applicable to our tribe because sometimes a person is a wandering member of our tribe destined to pop in for a spell and then retreat to a new corner, hopefully, to find their own lifelong crew. What you need to understand is that all you must do is…yeah, you’re getting it…just be you.