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Where is your tribe?

Where is your tribe?

When I was in primary school, I wanted a team of friends like the popular Chinese movie ‘Seven lucky kids’. If you don’t remember it, call me aunty, I insist!

But my friends never wanted to be a tribe. One of them even pushed K, causing her to break her arm because instead of understanding that I would love all of them equally, my friend F, saw K as her replacement and didn’t take kindly to it.

In secondary school, I wanted a group of friends like the Spice girls but my friend M was quite possessive, well according to reports by the other potential members of the Spice girl group, my other friend A was not keen on letting other people past her three is a crowd philosophy.

In University, I thought a miniature sex and the city group of friends would be amazing but again there was a problem. Two of my closest friends could not see eye to eye on anything. So even though I have quite a number of SATC-like pics, the dramatic undercurrent sizzled from time to time.

I have always had lots of friends, and I love each one especially but my friends rarely got along and it made me wonder why for the longest time. I was the girl that each friend would tell a secret to and warn not to tell the other girls because they were my friends and not hers even though she tolerated their audio friendship and sometimes was actually quite into it.

It was draining but a part of me liked the attention. I felt like a rich Alhaji whose (four or more) wives couldn’t get along even though I had promised to love all of them equally. I wasn’t the perfect friend, I still royally suck at keeping in touch but when you are my friend I will bend over backwards for you if I have to, regardless of distance or time apart. I don’t joke with loyalty or friendship. It wasn’t until I read Tim Lahaye’s book that I realised that I was acting like a true sanguine (let’s ignore the choleric part of my ‘SANchol’ personality assessment for now).

The world tries to peddle three narratives where female friendships are concerned.

1. Women can’t be friends. We are too competitive, too back stabbing, too *insert other derogatory terms*.

This is absolute bullocks. If you are a woman and you believe this, you are either hanging with the wrong crowd or you need to check yourself- you just may be the problem! One bad experience is not enough to disqualify the entire female race.

2. The fakest sort of friendships are the tribes! Despite the travel together, attend events together, coordinate clothing and 4 way phone conversations, the women actually hate each other and gossip about each other and there’s always the queen bee, the underdog, the famzer and the Judas in the entourage!

Naaah fam, leave the movies out of real life. A meaningful friendship can exist amongst several women. There just needs to be shared interests, mutual trust, boundaries, honest communication, kindness, love and forgiveness and many women have tribes that actually work!

3. Three is a crowd. Women can only be friends in pairs. Once there’s a third person, two would always be closer and there would be backbiting, hurt feelings and somebody always feeling left out.

Not true. If this was true then tribes wouldn’t exist. No friendship is perfect, if you want it to work, you need to put in the work!

Here are three actual facts about friendship among women:

1. It’s okay for there to be closer circles of friends within a big tribe.

It’s okay for two people to be closer to each other than everyone else but still be amazing friends to every one in the tribe. Remember that the larger a friendship circle is, the more complex the mashup of personalities, perceptions and opinions. This is mostly a good thing but it isn’t unexpected that friends with similar mindsets within the tribe or some other similarity would gravitate towards each other. Accept it, fighting it causes negative energy and discord within a tribe.

2. It’s necessary to know and set the rules of engagement for any friendship.

If you don’t like something, say it from the onset and reiterate it from time to time. If the person values you, they will act right and if they don’t, don’t be sentimental about moving. Passive aggression is the bedrock of beef. Don’t morph into a frenemy because your friend keeps jabbing at your wound albeit unconsciously. Also, be sensitive. Some people struggle with envy and on the other end of the spectrum, some people struggle with low self esteem which makes them continually boast about their achievements and material gains to cover up for secret inadequacies. Now imagine the disaster of a friendship if two women from either ends of this spectrum become BFFs? Our instincts do not go to sleep when picking friends, we just choose not to listen to them.

3. Fights, cat fights, cold wars and separations will happen.

Many women bear scars from previous friendships but here are two things you should know. The first is that this is not a reason to give up on female friendships. It’s just a mandate to be intentional about future friendships and test the waters before going all in. I actually pray about friendships before taking them to the next level because I’m a ‘stick with you through thick and thin’ kinda girl.

The second thing is to allow a small window in your heart for forgiveness. Remember that many times, discord is not entirely one person’s fault. If the person has matured and genuinely asks for forgiveness and wants another chance at the friendship, it could be because they miss the perks, access to your life or control (run from them) or because they have genuinely matured and miss the friendship (pause, reflect and maybe give it another go). I have this three strikes rule for friendship. After the third ‘how could she hurt me like this?’, I walk away. It feels like I have given the friendship my all and there is nothing left to give. This kind of walking away brings the sort of peace that evades you when you are keeping malice. There’s a finality to this one, closure as they say. I have only had to get to this final bus stop with two friends in my entire life and man, it wasn’t easy but the overwhelming peace I got after walking away was my assurance that it was the right thing to do.

My oldest friendship is 23 years old.

How old is your oldest (genuine, we are still in each other’s lives on a regular basis) friendship?

Back to tribes.

For centuries, tribes have been responsible for setting norms, coordinating behaviour patterns, setting standards for social interaction and defending individual members. If your tribe is successful, motivated, driven it would certainly rub off on you. If your friends live a phoney lifestyle or have questionable morals, that’s you babe, you can’t run away from that reputation. It’s a label by association so choose your labels wisely!

So where is my tribe?

I have several right now and I’m fully committed to all of them. It just occured to me that with the world being so mixed now (I’m half Auchi, half Isoko, 1/8th Hausa (one great grandmother), Bini by marriage, 1/2 Ibo (Ibusa- mother in law) and Yoruba by birth), I certainly can belong to more than one tribe! 😊

You can too.

When you have genuine friends, labels don’t matter. When you learn to keep the secrets told to you in confidence and learn to treat others as you would want to be treated, female friendships become easier, less complicated, less draining and of course, every grown woman knows how to spot bullsh*t a mile away, so you end up with less toxic friends and less frenemies because frankly, nobody gat time for that!

To have a friend, you’ve gotta be a friend

Have a great day Chutzpah fam,

Identify your tribe this Christmas and hold them close! ❤

Every woman needs a woman or women in her circle. Don’t joke with your support system!

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2019 in Relationships

 

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The Ideal Friend

You only need one!

A friend that sticketh closer than a brother and a brother is born for adversity but in these cut throat times…

Having a real friend is a rarity many long for but can’t afford, they are too busy chasing dreams to grow potential friendships and instead make do with frenemies- well not the absolute bad kind, just the kind that are happy for you and with you till you start to outshine them.

The truth is the world talks about frenemies like they are the worst but they seem to be just a mirror image of the friends they keep. Jealousy laced with a tinge of envy has become a hustle garland people wear with pride, it dictates their drive for success and their level of satisfaction and contentment in life in comparison with the next dude in their circle of influence. In fact many a frenemy have been the sure push behind a man’s success story (the Lord keep my enemies alive so they can witness my victory syndrome).

It’s all a great arrangement till you actually need a friend- one you can trust with your life, one you can do business with without ever getting screwed, one you can ask to care for your family after you are gone, one you can share your deepest, darkest secrets with, one you’d mutually take a bullet for, one you can laugh with, cry with, be brutally honest with and take real advice from because you know they have your back no matter what! Some people are lucky and their spouse becomes that friend, others are luckier and they are gifted with such friendships (na only Baba God fit give this one oh- because human beings are innately flawed and he knows what flawed souls work best in sync) but how do you get that sort of friend- the BFF who still cracks you up in your 70s and would still fight your battle for you even if it’s with a wobbly cane and hoarse curses?

Here’s how…

1) Be honest about the friendships in your life. 

Draw a list of all your ‘friends’ and then put them in 3 groups; 

the frenemies (they’ve pricked you with pocket knives enough times for you to know they’d stab you with a kitchen knife if they ever got the chance);

then the real friends (usually one or two- they won’t be perfect but you can count the times they’ve taken a bullet for you or gotten you out of hell- it’s not enough for them to sit with you and give great advice cos talk is cheap);

and then the acquaintances (it doesn’t matter how often you guys hang out- they are the ones who the world thinks are your friends cos they are in all your facebook and Instagram pics but you know exactly where you stand with them and don’t even want them knowing your business so there’s always a façade and lots of coverups when they are around). This last group is different from the frenemies because your frenemies have access to your heart and your personal business these people only have access to your good days and great occasions!

Now to the second…

2) Be honest about what you want out of a friendship

Everybody wants different things from a friendship. Most people need the 3 groups of friends to satisfy 3 different longings. The frenemies to push you to be better (some healthy or unhealthy competition), the real friends to share your burdens and the acquaintances to have fun with (because all work and no play…). A friend can function as 2 and 3 or 1 and 3 but 1 and 2 always cancel out each other and if a 2 acts like 1, the 2 becomes a 1!

The real issue begins when you blur these lines or worse put the wrong person in the wrong group. You need to be honest about what you want out of a friendship so that you don’t go telling your deepest woes to an acquaintance (TMI- awkward!) or to a frenemy (ammunition- dangerous!) A person doesn’t get upgraded to 2 because they have been in your life for years (perhaps waiting to strike) or because they held your hand through one crisis (did you get your degree after just one exam?). You need to take time to study their personality, how they feel about you and their concept of loyalty and their spoken and unspoken words not to mention their actions! The next time you want to reach out to a friend, you need to ask yourself what you desire at that moment- some excitement, some competition-driven motivation or a real friend and let it guide your call out.

3) Be honest about where you stand with each person.

Unrequited friendship is just as bad as unrequited love. Does your boo have a boo? If you are her number 3 and she is your number 2 then you are both out of sync and that friendship will not be satisfying. 

Don’t mistake a person who is genuinely nice and honest and helpful to everybody for your own personal person!

That’s why nice people always have tons of friends but they alone know who their friends really are. So if you are always sharing life issues with her and she’s so helpful and such a great listener but you don’t know jack about her or well the stuff about her that really matters, she isn’t your friend. She is your counselor, doctor or life coach at best! 

Not being honest about where you stand with people leads to disappointments and heart break and dramatic feelings of betrayal which you wouldn’t have been feeling if you only opened your eyes. 

4) Be honest about who you are.

Would you be friends with you?

I’ve noticed that a lot of people who are insincere, backstabbers, foul-mouthed, competitive, unfeeling (the bad character list is quite long) are the ones who are the loneliest, who crave more meaningful friendships and who have totally lost hope in the sincerity of a good friendship (“I don’t have friends that are girls, too much drama!” And the guys? “You know guys only want one thing!”)

Some people have developed these traits as a defense mechanism for all the stuff they have seen or gone through (kill or be killed), others are really good people deep down but never let anyone see the good because of all the emotional baggage it’s buried under but you must understand that actions and reactions are equal and opposite! 

Some people also see an overly friendly person as either suspicious (even the bible asks you to suspect a neighbor that loudly greets you early in the morning) or having too many friends so they don’t want to increase your body count. Sanguines tend to have a lot of acquaintances since they are easily the life of the party but very few meaningful friendships and as a result get very lonely!

Also some people are overly jealous and clingy and stifle their friendships but I think this again is mostly a myth. Unless you are a sociopath, a real friend would not consider you jealous or clingy because your friendship would be as much of a priority to them as it is to you however if your friend sees you only as a number 1 or 3,  she could have you committed!

If you are in need of a real friend, check yourself are you friend material? 

5) Be honest about the friendships you have ignored.

Nothing like a post like this to open your eyes and make you realize that you’ve spent too much time watering and nurturing the weeds instead of tending your garden! No friendship even the strongest ones will thrive without love and attention. Look at that list again, if you were unable to put down any name in the real friend group (2) then you need to draw up another list of people who could be potential friends (based on surprising acts of kindness, their total devotion to you even when you don’t give back or some other positive action- forget words) and beside their names write down why exactly you didn’t nurture that friendship. If the reason is a valid one, strike their names off the list (not all that glitters is gold) but if your busy schedule or laziness or your sense of entitlement is the reason why you you haven’t nurtured that friendship then get your garden tools and do some work! If the friendship was made in heaven, it won’t be too late.

Real friends make life so much more beautiful but even pretty gardens have weeds. If your real friend has hurt you and you cannot seem to trust him or her anymore, demote the person to number 1 or 3 and move on. You’ll find it easier to let go of the unforgiveness when you don’t have to pretend that the friendship is something it isn’t. Some friendships last for only a season, others for a life time but I can assure you that when one door closes the good Lord always opens another. 

Have a lovely day Chutzpah fam,

Xoxo

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2016 in Life

 

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