This is part one of the third article in a series of six on how to build your tribe and includes a discussion on how to find your guy or gal pals, and how to go deeper with yourself and become more vulnerable. Each article will focus on a different area of friendship and intimacy in order to not only build that tribe but to create long-lasting bonds that transcend a game night. You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends and the best kind of friend is the one who becomes family. You can find part two here.
Strong tribe friendships foster generativity and promote passion and purpose. Without our need for generativity, we would be aimless. The term, generativity, is one often spoken of by psychologists and is defined as the desire to contribute or to “make our mark on the world.” In other words, our legacy.
With steady friends and family who understand and love us just as we are, though, we need not fear that aimlessness. We can find the success we need to find. Not a friend’s success. Not a parent’s success. Our own passion unleashed on the world in our very unique way.
Generativity versus Stagnation—More Erikson
Intimacy versus Isolation is the sixth stage in his theory, but it has been our biggest focus so far in regard to building a tribe. This is because we’ve had to get over our firm belief in isolation and losing ourselves to independence. Now that we know self-imposed isolation is all hogwash, there’s a lot of meat to a tribe we haven’t discussed. This, of course, includes our tribes’ ability to and overwhelming talent in helping us make our mark on the world. Or in other words, our tribe’s capabilities in helping us achieve a sense of generativity.
Erikson’s seventh stage follows the sixth stage, Intimacy versus Isolation. In the seventh stage, we battle Generativity versus Stagnation. When it comes to leaving something behind that says something about our unique person, it can often be difficult to understand what that truly means in a modern world.
Does leaving something of ourselves mean having children? Grandchildren? A successful career? That book we wrote? There are so many possible avenues for leaving behind a legacy. But perhaps the most important thing to remember is that a legacy is different for everyone. And the reason why is because our passions are all different.
Avoid becoming stagnant
We’ve all felt it. That, “is this really all there is?” feeling? We might have even run from it for a time. Or perhaps, we accepted our lot, and now we just go through the daily motions.
We don’t want more. We just want to leave a legacy. Good home, good kids, good job. Good, good, good. Only, here’s the thing. If you feel like you trudge through each day just to make it “good,” well then…your kids, that legacy—they feel it. They feel that mediocre, half-hearted stagnation burning in their blood. They feel it seeping into their pores. And the only avenue they feel have open to them is a forked road. “I can become like my parent, who is good and honorable and has given me so much but who hates their life.” Or, “I can become someone entirely different. Someone who never feels stagnant or tied down or like life is only ‘okay’ or ‘good’.”
And in the end, those two paths don’t lead to happiness. You cannot find happiness by following the path another has laid out for you, especially when you know the cost is a life without vibrancy and passion. But you also cannot find happiness by only seeking out the opposite of good and honorable consistency. Those two roads are in fact a lie.
Being stagnant doesn’t mean flouting tradition. And getting to a place of generativity does not mean tolerating a life of half-hearted duty.
When we discuss generativity, it is a uniquely individual thing based on the many stages that have come before it—the most recent stage of which was the individual’s ability to accept intimacy versus isolation.
Tribe friendships foster generativity
It could be argued that truly passionate tribes learn together, thrive together, and find happiness in the shared satisfaction of their lives. When we find our tribe, we might not immediately realize that passion plays a large role in how our relationships progress—not just with lovers, but with friends as well. However, our closest friends are, above all else, the gatekeepers and secret keepers to our dreams, goals, and sense of generativity.
You may overcome your sense of isolation—if that was, in fact, your issue before finding your tribe. You may even be laying aside your fears. Over the years, as you grow closer to your tribe, the burdens you might have held onto in the past might now be something you bring directly to your closest self-made family (we’ll discuss this further in issue five). But one thing we often forget is that purpose is inexplicably essential to growth, joy, self-satisfaction and continued happiness.
Stay tuned for Part Two, Six ways your tribe fosters your legacy, for in-depth advice on how to build your legacy with the help of those you love the most.