building my tribe
by Michelle Collins
I struggled with writing this. It wasn’t because I was having writer's block, but because I have so much to say on my inner battle with making/maintaining healthy female relationships with women.
At the beginning of this year, I said something that I have never said before: "I want more strong women in my life". This came about because I was starting to be surrounded by women who were/are comfortable in their skin and don't project their insecurities on other women; women who didn't lash out from a place of insecurity but reached out from a place of confidence.
Before my "tribe" as I love to call them came around, I had to deal mainly two types of women: with women who pushed their insecurities and struggles on me to carry, and women who would try to tear me down because I didn't think the same way they did. Most times I would be rejected or openly ignored (yes, grown women would do this) because of my confidence in who I am and who God made me seem to not line up with how they felt femininity should be represented (also I hate trying to be a cool kid, so I stand out normally, lol). It's safe to say my longest/strongest friendships have been with the men in my life.
I may not have a ton of women who are in my tribe right now, but I have the ones I need that will go to war with and for me, my fiancé and my family.It has been and continues to be refreshing to be around my ladies. I'm able to share things with them that I have never acknowledged or said aloud, my struggles with having to step up and take care of my family at a young age and how I'm finally navigating taking care of myself and learn when to give myself a break. These women keep me accountable, asks the questions I don't want to answer and offers fresh insight on how to navigate life.
Speaking as a woman who has been burned multiple times by women (mainly in church or by women who identify themselves as Christian) it is easy to build a barrier, keep them at arm's length, form no attachments and keep moving. I've been doing that for so long. But after awhile it gets exhausting to not have someone who you trust to hear you out and be a sounding board, or to encourage you and speak life into. It's hard to be in a church environment and thrive when you don't fit into any clique/group or team of women. You become isolated and often not considered for group events, positions of growth, etc. It takes the reminder that while everyone isn't for you, there's some who are. And to meet those people, you have to get out there and be uncomfortable for a bit. As an introvert, it's a daily form of torture.
Each day, with each introduction, each interaction is a chance to remove a brick from the barrier that I have created and to continue to remove bricks when I am attacked or mistreated. There are days when I have to have that uncomfortable conversation with other women and let them know what they're doing (if they're unaware or not) is hurting them, myself and/or others. It’s not an easy journey, but I look forward to having those conversations that will last and help other women in my life to build positive, real and long lasting relationships. Let’s build a tribe.