Over the course of my time at Binghamton University, I have accumulated a few amazing people here and there that I have added to my tribe. Our initial meeting places vary widely, from Hinman College and College-in the-Woods, classes, general interest meetings (GIMs), internships and, let’s not forget, the line for the printer at Glenn G. Bartle Library. These friendships started off with either me asking or answering a question, giving or receiving a compliment or making eye contact with them from across the room when someone says something crazy in class. Regardless of how they began, the main point is that they didn’t end. I went from occasionally saying “hi” while walking in the halls or during GIMs to attending on-campus plays, performances and events with them. My tribe has made my time at BU memorable.
When I say tribe, I do not mean the problematic anthropological term typically used to describe nations and communities in the motherland of Africa. I mean finding or creating a community of people that you connect with. Your tribe. How do you find your tribe? You find your tribe by reaching out to people. Don’t sit around thinking people are going to fall into your lap because things do not work that way. You need to be open to meeting and interacting with new people. Maybe that means attending a GIM or talking with someone from your class. Whatever it may be, going in with an open mind will make a huge difference.
I understand the idea of reaching out can be scary, but are you afraid of reaching out or are you really afraid of being rejected? Fear of rejection is real. It can prevent you from going up to someone and having a conversation, and that is okay. It is okay for you to be afraid. However, it is not okay to allow that fear to prevent you from creating meaningful connections. In all honesty, you probably are going to be rejected. You will be upset about it, but you will get over it.
Don’t allow rejection to devalue you. Your value will never be determined by how many friends you have, or whether or not you are accepted by others. Your value and self-worth will always be determined by how you see yourself and the love you have within yourself, for yourself. Besides, every rejection you face will only make the moment when you are accepted and make a connection more valuable.
You’re probably wondering, what about my social media? Although social media has played a huge role in keeping us connected, it prevents us from connecting with one another in the real world. We tend to turn to social media in moments where we need a listening ear or support, and even though we do get the support we need, it does not prevent the inevitable feeling of loneliness. We feel it when we need a shoulder to cry on or even a hug and there is no one physically present to give us one.
I get that our generation prides itself on being “self-made.” We preach “I don’t need nobody” while having an “I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T” mentality, in the words of Webbie. But when are we going to own up to the fact that we need a tribe?