I have spent a significant portion of my life feeling like I was living in social solitary confinement. I was not comfortable with my looks growing up. I was uncomfortable with my smarts growing up. I was awkward particularly when it came to female relationships.
Books were the friends that never passed judgement or made me feel as though I was going to say the wrong thing at the wrong time and end up in a place I did not desire to be. I always had my family, of course, but they had to love me, right?
Early on in life I felt, as have many others, the need to have other non- family members choose me as someone who they wanted to spend time with on a regular basis. I didn’t seem to be able to attract these “friends” by simply being myself so I traded time away from my books to make myself “useful” to others and called that friendship.
I existed in that friend circle for years until the time came when I was less useful and I noticed how absent my transactional friends were in my life when I found myself in crisis. By the time I hit my mid-20s I hit a real crisis and I shattered. Broken and lower than I have ever been (and ever hope to be again) I had to put in the work of figuring out a new definition of friends for my life. It was through that painful process that I was able to reconstitute my Friend Tree and discern who the people were in my life that I needed to help me be my best self every day.
I found my tribe.
Some of my tribe had been there with me through it all. For whatever reason I couldn’t see them for who they really were in my life because I had too much distraction in my life. Today I celebrate all of the women in my life who carry my tribal affiliation. I am thankful for you and I am even more thankful for the gift of time with you.
Marta C. Youngblood is a writer, education and social entrepreneur based in Little Rock, Arkansas. For more information on her current projects visit https://about.me/MCyoungblood.