I used to be the first in line to sign up for new online communities, mastermind groups and networking organizations, writing workshops and dance parties. I used to meet weekly with three other women entrepreneurs, “Superfriends” who coached one another through creative and business challenges. These were places I shared my truth, where I listened and supported others, where I felt both heard and validated. Being in the same room, whether virtual or physical, with my “tribes” brought a sense of belonging.
I settled in, comfortably.
In time, I sought to explore more vulnerable conversations, ask tougher questions, steer things in directions the others did not want to be led. I soon found myself bored with what seemed mundane and over-analyzed topics. Had I not given enough of myself, or had I been too much? Then suddenly, there would be the turn of a cold shoulder, a light-hearted debate would become fiery, a metaphorical glass thrown across the table. Had I become too easily distracted, self-centered, negative? Had I been taking things personally?
Nevertheless, I continued to show up because I am a committed person and I don’t give in easily. But when the sadness crept in, I soon realized I was merely going through the motions, and fighting against my instincts had transformed “settling in” into “settling for.” Then my worse possible fear gnawed from within: If I couldn’t be my best self and stand up for my feelings, how could I be a true artist, a real writer, a successful entrepreneur, a loyal Superfriend?
The pattern is easier to recognize today, the thrill of new friendships and the allure of potential; soon followed by the frayed welcome mat and failed safety net, and the fear of detaching from those parts of myself that I vehemently protect – positivity, lightness, goodness.
I once heard that we can’t be our best self until we find our tribe. Maybe gypsies like me find our best selves wandering between them.