Tribe has still been on my mind a lot. This past week I was thinking about how the tribe(s) we belong to effect how we age and how we feel about getting older.
All tribes have expectations about how you should act in all parts of your life, and aging is one of them. But tribes don’t hand you a list of rules when you join (but that would be so convenient). We are drawn to tribes through mutual interests or we are born in to them in family or community. If you pay close attention, there are subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) messages about behaviors that are acceptable in that group for every age.
Growing up I had an Aunt who was a blast. She and her family were very social, very involved with their church and the local VFW. They constantly had really fun parties at their house. My Aunt was a big woman, but the thing I remember most about her was how stylish she was. She went to the salon every week to have her hair styled and get a mani/pedi (bright red, of course). Those social groups were her tribe and the time, effort and money she invested into looking glamorous was part of being a member of those tribes. She was following the unspoken formula to be a member in good standing of that tribe.
Other tribes can really suck the life out of you. The fearful tribe comes to mind. This group spends an inordinate amount of time looking for signs of the end of the world and preparing for it. Not only does the stress of living this lifestyle make you look and feel old, but their focus is never on things as useless as beauty and fun. My Aunt would have been seen as a frivolous and silly for enjoying her life instead of spending it fearing the oncoming doom (that never happened in her lifetime anyway).
I am also avoiding any women-hating tribes. These don’t usually actively advertise that they hate women, but they spend a lot of time and energy suppressing women’s beauty, sensuality, joy, power. The saddest thing about these tribes is that it is almost always the women in the group who hold each other down. God forbid any of them get so uppity as to try some blue nail polish or spend an hour or so on themselves, exercising or primping or just being a girl.
The final tribe I am running from is the nay-sayers. No one in this group is ever going to be successful and they make sure of this by knocking any big idea or dream you might have. This group shuns and punishes those who dare to reach beyond the rest of the group. Gossip is their favorite weapon and they are easy to spot on social media. They post hate rants about whatever or whoever is the current media rage. Members are rewarded with praise by other members for taking the time to write hate letters to Miley Cyrus or create mocking videos on YouTube. I stumbled on a writers group the other day who have dedicated an entire forum to writing biting criticism of “50 Shades of Grey”. Jealousy never makes you feel young (childish maybe).
The best news is that you get to chose your tribe(s). If you find yourself in one that doesn’t suit you, don’t stick with it because it’s the people in your neighborhood or people you work with, etc. Go out and consciously find people you truly connect with, who build you up, enhance your life, and make you feel genuinely happy to be whatever age you are.