Ok. I recognise this is a rather bold statement, and perhaps more than a little hasty. But before you judge, let me explain….
At the beginning of the year I spent a long overdue weekend with a bunch of funny, smart, intuitive, talented and all round inspiring women who I like to affectionally call one of my ‘tribes’. Brought together simply because we once shared the same employer for 4 years, at first glance we an odd bunch of women from very different backgrounds. A masseuse musician (not at the same time, of course..), a feminist American History graduate, a foodie runner (again, not at the same time), a Shamanism enthusiast, a Northern Irish ex Cabinet Office employee come super mum and me (I’ll leave you to come up with my tag!)…
It sounds like a modern day version of The Breakfast Club (sans the pubescent boys), and in fact these brash stereotype descriptions do these beautiful, complex women little justice to their individual characters. The point is, we are all so different and yet – when we come together for a weekend away, 18 months after we last got together – there is a level of shared values that make us so much the same. We understand and support each other like any good friend group would.
- a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.
I came to them that weekend feeling fatigued and low in self esteem. I left feeling energised, motivated and full of love in my heart (what? you knew I was a hippy, right?). But most importantly, I came away with renewed inspiration from all the varied and exciting ways these women were making their mark on the world, no matter how big or small it may have felt to them at that moment in time.
Because, whilst we might struggle at times to recognise our ability to influence, change lives and be all round wonderful humans beings, our ‘tribe’ will always be the first to see it. If you find the right people to have your back, you will always be reminded that you’re doing OK.
Our reunion taught me a few things about the importance of finding a safe, trusting group of individuals, no matter how different at first you may seem. It made me realise that these relationships are not only great for your own social life and mental health, but they will in turn have a really positive effect on the planet.
Here are just three of reasons why tribes are good for you, and the planet:
- They open up new ideas, otherwise unexplored. When you mix with people who are like-minded, yet have different interests and hobbies to you, you get a chance to come out of your bubble and learn new things. This is vital to exploring new ways to live happily, healthily and sustainably; and they offer opportunities to share skills and resources to better face problems together.
- They can help you to battle activist fatigue. Whether you’re a tree hugging vegan campaigner or simply an avid carrier bag avoider, it can sometimes be tiring standing up for what you believe in. Reminding yourself that others feel the same way, share your worries and can inspire you to keep going, is vital to continuing on your green journey.
- They will call you up on your lazy ways. This is never more true than when you allow naughty habits to sneak in. True friends will love you, but won’t be afraid to question you when they think you are not being true to yourself, or your beliefs. Healthy criticism is so helpful to keep you on track and make sure you’re not letting life get the better of your good intentions!
Whilst these things may seem a somewhat tenuous solution to fighting the global issues – such as deforestation, toxic air pollution and climate change – we are beginning to face, its clear that we will need truly resilient friendships and networks more than ever in the years to come.
Having a ‘tribe’, or number of tribes, we can relate to, connect with and feel supported by, will be vital to surviving any changes in our environment and communities. And when we feel bombarded by bad news stories, which make us wonder what we are fighting for, it will be our tribes, and the people we love within them, that inspire us to keep on working toward a positive world we can share together.
Do you have a tribe or network who inspire you to stay on your green journey?