Finding Your Tribe


Let’s talk for a moment about that tribe thingy.

Ever since Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this deep-seated need we have to belong, “finding my tribe” has become a buzz phrase.¬†People talk about it in the workplace, at the coffeehouse and at every conference I’ve attended over the past 10 years.

Whenever I hear people speak about finding their tribe, I think about where I’ve found mine.

I’ve found my tribe among leather-wearing Harley-riders.

I’ve found my tribe among banjo-picking, foot-tapping musicians.

I’ve found my tribe among bow-tied book nerds.

I’ve found my tribe among stroller-pushing mothers of miracle babies.

I’ve found my tribe among green-aproned baristas at Starbucks and blue-aproned women of Altrusa.

I’ve found my tribe among yellow-shirted volunteers at the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

I’ve found my tribe among the honey-suckled hills of a holler named Christian Bend.

I’ve found my tribe among the lowlands of South Carolina and the highlands of North Carolina.

I’ve found my tribe among the wordsmiths working in newsroom cubicles.

I’ve found my tribe among the theologians and thinkers who wrestle with what it means to live out one’s faith.

I’ve found my tribe among the brokenhearted who document the bruises and broken bones of children, abused.

I’ve found my tribe among the badge-wearing men and women who seek to uphold the law.

I’ve found my tribe among the margarita-sippers who’ve made the trek to Monroeville and Milidgeville and come away with more stories of Harper and Flannery.

I’ve found my tribe among the flip-flop wearing crowd who gather on the piers at Fairhope and Point Clear to watch the sunset over Mobile.

I’ve found my tribe among the people in the pews singing off-key to “There’s Power in the Blood”.

I’ve found my tribe in a cemetery on a slope where Hero Mama now is joined with the only man she ever really loved.

I’ve found my tribe here, where you have come, to read these words and to consider our common love of story and God and one another.

The thing about tribal living isn’t about how much we think the same, you and me.

It’s about how we honor one another even in our differences, in spite of our differences.

Where have you found your tribe?


Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.


Lisa Chretien

about 7 years ago

You took my idea of how to formulate my own tribe thoughts. You also bring up something I have always never felt and that is being part of a tribe. Being adopted, I've always had the sense of not belonging. I'm not sure why, my parents were good parents, not great ones, and sometimes truly damaging ones. But I think that is the nature of parenting for many, even for me. If I were writing this from home, Salem, and not here in Hermiston I think I would say that my children and their families are my tribe. Now being so far from home, because Salem will always be home for me, I really don't think I am member of any tribe here. Ok, I guess Joseph would say with sarcasm, that my dogs are my tribe. They are my only companions here, the only ones who I share time with outside of my teaching life. That's kind of sad, or more accurately, makes me sad. I really suck at making friends and my work colleagues could all be daughters so having them as off work friends is weird on two levels; and Joseph well, Joseph is Joseph. Yesterday I judged at the district speech tournament and I remembered how it felt to be a part of speech team and tournaments, a tribe of sorts, when I was in college in the late 80s and early 90s as a participant and then an assistant coach. Then there was the online role playing group based on the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCafferey. Of course I only meant person from that group in real life, but I do keep in contact with a few of them via facebook. My tribal membership ebbs a lot and I think much that all goes back to a lack of feeling a part of a family outside of my parents and later my children and grandchildren. That's all very depressing. Sigh. I will have to think more about this concept, though I truly hate becoming a part of buzz phrases. I do like a good meme though, so just maybe.


Karen Spears Zacharias

about 7 years ago

Lisa: I do think belonging is important to humans. I think we were created to belong. Some people are better at making space for others to belong. I seek out those people and put myself in their presence. I avoid those who don't make space for me. Natural, I think, for anyone to do that. Community can be hard to come by, especially, I think, when we convince ourselves we aren't wanted and don't belong. Finding my tribe has required that I open myself up to new experiences and to new relationships. It requires that I, too, make space for others. While the South will always be "home" to me, I am quite content here on the sunny side.


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