The Tribe That Fits My Vibe.
*Disclaimer: This is one of those vulnerable posts that exposes some deep truths, so cheers to anyone who has felt these things.
I am hungover.
Somehow, despite waking up feeling as if someone had dropped me in well that took days to climb out of, I managed to make it to my morning movement class. No, I did not vomit while doing crunches and no I didn't pass out while my partner and I practiced our mirror exercises. HOWEVER, my hangover remains and I have my dear friends to thank for it. (Sure Sure, I consumed the alcohol but I'm still holding my friends responsible!)
I have a fickle relationship with that word. Friends are a staple part of our human lives. We need them like we need our family. The best part being that we get to choose our friends. Well, sometimes your friends choose you...but either way, they are the connections that are fostered and nurtured simply by our own will and efforts. Sometimes, you get lucky enough to where your friends actually feel like family and at the end of the day aren't we all just trying to find our place in a community? A tribe?
ANYWAY, back to my hangover. Last night was the first night in the new year that all my friends got together for a night on the town. One of my resolutions for this year was to host less and guest more. Due to my natural hosting talents and my spacious living quarters, I tend to run the show when it comes to holding events and making plans. But thankfully, I was off duty for the night. It started off as a no drinking night attempt, then quickly became a tequila shot and cocktail adventure. Now, this group of friends came together in a very unique way (another post on that later). Because of this, though some of us had run in similar circles, the union is special because it was organic to the highest degree. Each person is so different from the other, that the blend of us all in one place is oddly similar to the groups of friends you see in shows like Skins.
Each person brings their own seasoning and somehow the blend of us all is delicious. After befriending our waitress at the trendy West Hollywood watering hole, we managed to consume a feast of appetizers and countless drinks that resembled horchata pina coladas. We then proceeded to attend another trendy bar before we realized that we would have just as much fun sitting in someone's living room. Mind you, we are a hefty group. We could fill a living room. It was decided. We all piled into separate cars (no drunk driving, don't worry, we're actually all responsible) and headed back to our friend's apartment near Dodger Stadium. Somehow the idea of a game was brought up, and though we all enjoy our fair share of 'Never Have I Ever' or 'Circle of Death', we somehow ended up playing 'Bullshit'. Fitting. A good clean game of calling your friends out for being little shits and lying. Needless to say, the night was a blast. And I quickly realized why:
We, as friends, are simple.
I looked around the room at my melting pot of pals, and I observed that every person was present and focused on simply having a good time. There are no hierarchies, no competitions, and no complications. This isn't to say that we as a group of people are perfect by any means, but we all exist in such a harmonious way with each other that it's almost eerie. It's like finding a vintage varsity jacket in a thrift store that actually fits and doesn't make you look like you're being swallowed by leather sleeves and bulky felt. We all just want to have a good time. And we support each other! Like ACTUALLY support each other. Not the kind of support that is saturated with layers of secret resentment or envy...No, we actually enjoy hearing what the other is doing and we actually show up for those things you wish someone were there to remember with you. We are a group of people who revel in the fact that we have a shared BUCKET LIST and a shared FUCK IT list. (Posts on that to come!) We don't see each other all the time, but I know that is something that comes with adulthood.
So here's where the fickle vulnerability comes in.
I didn't always have these kinds of friendships. Yes, I've had very meaningful and profound groups of friends that have and will always impact and be apart of me, but there was always something a little off for me in most of my friendships. I have lost many friends over the years due to selfish and immature actions. However, my final task of 2016 was to go down my shit list and actually mend most of those broken bridges, which miraculously: I did. Each one of them. WHICH IS HUGE! You're probably wondering the root of the shit list and where I am going with all of this. And it is this: I haven't always been a good friend. And here's the irony: all I have ever wanted was good friends. What is funny is this: I always had them. (Well most the time.) But for some reason I changed friends as frequently as you change grade levels in school. I always found myself teetering between the group of people that I had found a place with and the group of people that I wanted to find a place with. I was always hunting. Always seeking something else. For a long time, I attested this change to being a free spirit; needing variety of everything including people, as I would often grow bored of relationships and experiences. Not to say any of my friends were boring, but once I had understood their purpose in my life, I was over it.
Cold blooded: trust me, I'm aware.
This awareness is actually what tended to hurt me in all of these relationships. I would grow aware of the subtle changes that would suggest a lack of understanding, a lack of empathy, or simply a lack of caring between friends. And I couldn't ignore it. Once the awareness grew to the point where I would sense that the relationship was getting complicated for whatever reasons, I would bolt. The shelf life of my friendships was similar to that of a sack of flour. Once I had made enough friendship cookies, I would toss the flour bag and go get a new one.
Again, this may suggest that perhaps I suffer from intimacy or commitment issues (which I'm not denying may be somewhat true), but I knew it was deeper than that. I give my loyalty and heart to pretty much anyone I encounter. I understand that this is a very fragile way of living because wearing your heart on your sleeve means people can easily rip that sleeve in a giant mosh pit. But I committed to living this way. I prefer to be an open book because it's who I am. However, the part of me that wasn't open is the part that took me 24 years to discover.
I didn't trust myself.
I trusted a lot of thing: horoscopes, nature, dogs, and other people... But I didn't trust myself. There will be a post about personology (as I believe everyone should be aware of their own), but for the sake of this post, I will condense this information in a bite sized snack. I am an extremist. I experience life at very high highs and very low lows. I am born on the day of ups and downs. One of the first things this told me was that despite being adventurous and exciting, I am also restless and often dissatisfied. Not the most flattering stuff, but I couldn't help but accept this as true. This restlessness of the soul was something I've always encountered: always wanting to experience MORE. This can be great when you're discovering who you are and seeing what the world has to offer. But it doesn't make for a very stable foundation. Or a stable personality. I am a very dynamic human, but I was switched off from the eye of the storm. The gooey center that emits all the authentic emotions and integrity that bonds us to others. Sure, I felt things. Boy did I feel things. But I never felt the stability of myself in the world. I have always known who I am in many ways. I am blessed for this self awareness. But being so self aware also means it can be difficult to decipher what is reliable and what I have taught myself to believe.
This quality would surface in my friendships. Yes, I was a little shit for a very long time. I had my cake and ate it too. And it wasn't until a lot of pain and turmoil erupted, that I realized something needed to change. The awareness created something in me that I can now attest to being a very big reason most of my friendships didn't last: pressure. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best version of myself I can be, even through the fuck ups. But this pressure started to project itself onto other people. What I wanted from myself, I wanted from others. Constantly raising the bar of feeling as much profound emotion as possible. Let's be clear: many, rather MOST, people do not live this way. Most people wake up, adhere to their routines, probably work, have mild social lives and they are content with that. It took me YEARS to master a routine and I have never been content with the basic life recipe. I wanted more. When you ask people for more, it can be daunting. Sometimes, people rise to the occasion and develop senses that enable them to grab life by the balls as I believe I do. But sometimes, asking for more, puts pressure on people because it isn't organic. It's a feigned response to addressing someone else's needs and desires. When I felt like I wasn't getting what I needed from a friend, then I would assume they weren't as committed as I was to all the heart that had been divulged and shared. I stopped trusting them.
I can now say after years of righting wrongs and after some much needed soul searching, that I was a fool.
The truth is this: I didn't stop trusting my friends, I stopped trusting that I was good enough for them. Now if there is one thing I can admit to it's this: I have abandonment issues. Ones that I created for myself. I have abandoned many things in my life because I have always had free reign to write my own life rules. But the one thing that scared me more than ANYTHING else, was the thought of being abandoned. Now, this has never happened in my family or anything like that. But the issue was real. I would stop trusting that I had any qualities worth supporting, defending, or coexisting with. So, I would abandon them before they had the chance to part ways with me. Sure, there are some instances where some friends have just been down right shitty or withholding. To this I can say, I have learned how to decipher between the ones you hold onto and the ones you let go.
"When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice motivated by pride and vanity." -Dale Carnegie
I am grateful for my year of living in LA. It was here that I dedicated myself to changing my ways. It was here that I decided I would face my issues and finally learn what it meant to be an authentic friend (and person for that matter). Again, I am not saying I have been a horrendously terrible person with no friends my whole life (I have always been blessed to hold onto a few special gems out of every group). But, I am saying that the tribe I was always desperately seeking was just always out of my reach. So I started to trust myself. I started accepting who I truly was under the wild mane and under the cool leather jackets and tattoos and piercings and witty remarks. Even under the generosity, the gregarious ability to befriend and talk to just about anyone, under the small and big gestures of love that I adore doing, under the ability to create lasting moments...I held up the mirror and finally saw myself. I realized:
I am human, just like everyone else.
Yes, we are all unique with our stories and differences, but underneath it all, we are all the same. We all want the same thing: LOVE. And then something wonderful happened. I started meeting people that aligned with who I truly am. I started recognizing traits in others that I liked about myself, as well as noting our differences in order to better understand each other as opposed to running away from them. I was attracting people who saw the world like I did. Who felt the way I did. And they are functional, successful, seemingly normal (whatever that is) people!
So I sit here today, looking at the polaroid pictures of my friends around the table last night and I am reminded that I did it.
I learned to trust myself. To trust the good and the bad. To trust that no matter where I am or who I am with, I know and like myself. I LOVE myself. I love who I am, good and bad. Because it inspires things like what you're reading right now. The old dog learned some new tricks. And those tricks led to a new year without any old emotional baggage and a group of people that like me because all I ask of them is to show up as themselves. And if for any reason my friendships fade or change, I trust that it is happening organically for all the right divine reasons. I no longer feel the pressure of needing to feel all the time. I am content. Which for me, is also huge. I am content with the simplicity of a good time and real people. And I cannot wait to see where we all go, because in my heart, I trust that our stories came together right when they were supposed to. No pressure. No expectations. Just love.
I have learned a valuable lesson while living in LA. A lesson that many learn early on, some probably never learn, and one that took me a very long time to learn. And the lesson is this:
Find A Tribe That Fits Your Vibe.
(And always share your cookies.)