My Tribe Transformed My Life -- And The Past Year
Every year in December, I do a sort of personal annual review. Over the course of several evenings, I break out some paper and pens (OK, fine, also some wine) and take stock of what’s been happening in my world.
At the end of last year, I wrote down a whole list of the things that I’d done. Mostly professional contributions, but between the professional and the personal I filled up almost the whole page. And you know what? I looked at the list and couldn’t feel anything other than neutral.
A whole year’s worth of things I’d accomplished, and not one of them was something that made me happy.
I wish I could tell you there was some dramatic Scarlett O’Hara moment where I decided my life would never be this way again and then I quickly became the hottest thing since sliced bread. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right? You make your Big Declaration, throw in a little dramatic music, and skip to the great stuff?
Since not many people want to acknowledge that it’s not all sparkles and perfectly lit selfies, let me volunteer as tribute.
Last December, I wasn’t a fan of my job. I wasn’t sure I was making any sort of difference at all and contemplating walking away. Finding the nearest exit door that would support me until I could figure out what was next. Partly due to the extensive time demands of my job, my social life was dead in the water.
The worst part was that I stopped caring. My life looked fine from the outside, but on the inside I was screaming that I was the conductor of the Hot Mess Express. I felt stuck and alone because I couldn’t see a way out.
And then, little by little, my Tribe appeared. They showed up as interns and volunteers at work who reminded me that what I do is actually pretty freaking cool. They showed up as participants in coaching groups who were (and are) not afraid to create a no-bullshit zone.
My Tribe showed up as personal and professional mentors who looked me in the eyes and told me that I could have anything I fucking wanted, and was capable of making it happen.
The interesting thing about my Tribe is that they know I’m willing to walk through fire and come out the other side. I think of them like bumpers in bowling. They see me headed too far to the side and they lovingly bounce me back into place. They never question that I’m going to get where I need to go.
That’s the best part of a Tribe: they have faith in you, even if you don’t have it yourself. Your Tribe will help you move forward, just like they did for me.
When I sit down to write out all the things I’ve done in 2016, I’m still going to have a long list. The professional life is rocking, and that part of the list gets a solid virtual high five.
But the personal life list? That’s the stuff I’m proud of. Everything on that list is there because I chose it. Because I fought for it. Because my Tribe fought for me.