Girl gang, squad, tribe – they’re all terms that are used a lot now, and for good reason, because there’s a power that comes in numbers.
Even more than that, there’s a special power that comes when a group of women come together to share their hearts and voices and truly support one another. That’s something that many of us know from our own experience, but I also wanted to share the story of a big part of my own tribe with you to talk about the real power of that sisterhood.
When I hear the word “tribe” I always think about a big group of people, and it’s fair to say that mine isn’t particularly small; from family to colleagues and friends you meet along the way. Between the wonderful souls that fit into those categories and those that fit in between the people closest to me are amazing and I love them all.
But when I mention “my girls” it’s my very oldest group of friends that I talk about.
There are six of us altogether and we’ve been friends – in varying degrees – forever. Some of us have literally known one another since birth, others since starting school, and our overall group came together when we were teenagers and worked together at McDonald’s.
Yup, Big Macs and drive thrus brought us together!
In the years since we’ve seen one another through successes, engagements, weddings, new homes, new businesses and babies; and through break ups, disappointments, family illnesses, down times and deaths.
We’ve had periods where we’ve grown apart and others where we’ve grown closer, times when we loved each other more than anything and others when we wanted to kill each other. We know each other’s greatest wishes and deepest fears; our proudest achievements and darkest secrets.
But among it all we’ve been there. And we’re still there.
We’ve reached a point where we’re not just friends, we’re family; even with one of us living literally half a world away and it being months or longer between us all getting together, we are family. And in truth, the distance often makes it all the more special when we do get together.
At the end of last week the six of us (and 2/3 of our combined children so far!) spent our first evening all together in almost a year. We had Moana, enough food to feed an army, and wine – lots of wine.
It was an evening of reminiscing over McDonald’s days, nights out in Newcastle, and the people – mainly boys – we’ve known along the way, filled with laughter. But it was also an evening of deep conversation and revelation about some of the fears, struggles and insecurities that each of us have not just as the teenagers we once were, but as the women we’ve grown to be.
For me, the truth came later though as part of the #100daysoftruth I’m doing over on Instagram. Thinking back over the night later I shared that, despite the fact these are my oldest friends, there have been times in the past that I’ve felt out of place within that group.
You see I’m now the only one of the six who’s not married, and one of the three (very soon to be two as we have a new little man coming our way this winter) yet to have children. And at times in the past when I’ve been uncomfortable with my own unmarried, child-free status, that’s left me feeling a little out of place amongst wedding planning and baby talk.
It’s not something I’ve shared with the girls before – partly because admitting that I felt like a fish out of water in these conversations kind of felt like I was raining on their incredibly happy and exciting parades; something I never wanted to do, but if I’m honest largely because within a group of like-minded women – even one as established as ours – it’s hard to show something that might be perceived as weakness.
But on Friday, for the first time ever I didn’t just share that with the girls, but with the whole world.
Almost immediately one of my girls commented to remind me that I could never be out of place with them, and although that’s something I’d already figured out for myself, just having her say it warmed the cockles of my little heart and gave me a huge big realisation.
We already know that the people around you are so often mirrors, showing you more of yourself than you often wanted to see. But those close, old groups of friends are often a mirror to your entire life. They remind you of what you had mapped out for yourself once upon a time (because they KNOW. These girls know my entire back story inside out with absolutely no room to hide!) and give you a base for comparison on how your life is progressing.
Sometimes that comparison is a good thing – not only when you’re ticking off all the milestones on your life plan, but also when your plan through life has changed along the way and you need a little reminder of the path you’ve chosen and why.
But even when life isn’t completely the way you want there are benefits in that comparison too – it brings a reminder of what you truly want and a kick up the backside to make some changes, even if that’s just in your outlook.
Either way our tribe are the people that can help us with that; not only celebrating the successes but taking our hands and helping us back onto the path of life that we want to live.
Because while some friendships will come and go, your tribe are the ones who are timeless and will be there no matter what happens and what you do or don’t achieve.
With my girls (and it must be said, others outside of the six of us in this photo) I know they’ll be here for me whether I have children or not, whether I’m flying high or sat in the gutter, and I love them. Not only for that but for who they are and for who we all are together – from the memories we’ve made to the present we get to enjoy, to the celebrations and old lady craziness that all lies ahead of. In retrospect I only wish I’d trusted our bond enough to share my concerns with them back when they were an issue rather than bearing the cross on my own.
The beauty of your tribe is that you can tell them your truths and they won’t think any the less of you (once someone has touched your bright blue alcopop infused sick, or caught you out with a boy you swore you weren’t involved with there’s not really much you can say to upset them…) but instead will hold you and be there for you during the tough parts of your journey as well as the good ones. Because while I’m all about you taking centre stage in your own story, all of the best heroes are surrounded by an equally awesome group of friends and helpers to get them through.
So whether you have a tribe of two or a tribe of 20, whether you see them every day or once a year take time out to recognise that gang, trust that bond and honour it.
And to my tribe – but especially for today my amazing girls – thank you, I love you xxx