Define Your Tribe

September 12, 2016

It's not every day that women sit around and talk about the greatness of getting older.  In fact, there are multi-billion dollar industries popping up every day to tell us that we can be young forever.  But I just had the opportunity to shoot a wedding with a dear woman who is quickly becoming a dear friend and we had a long talk about how glorious it is to be in our 30s because you begin to realize who your truest friends are.  You get you pour time and energy into people who do the same for you and your tribe begins to emerge.

Almost everywhere you look right now there is someone posting an inspirational post from amazing authors like Brene Brown or Anne Lamott talking about your tribe, the people you surround yourself with and how they effect you.  Those two women are incredible seers of humanity, they have been able to lift many a veil around the way we carry ourselves and protect ourselves in order to reveal ourselves as more free and more at peace.

I read their books and I feel pretty confident in the friendships I'm choosing in my day to day life.  But, for me, that is not as easy in the business world.

As a creative I am constant bombarded by the best images from the best photographers, designers, bloggers, etc...  I seek out their work, I study it, I read their blog posts and take their free courses.  I want more for my business and I constantly get caught up in the illusion of "more" even when vision cast in front of me bears no resemblance to who I am.

A few months back I got to go to a conference where I was going to "learn from industry experts" and "make lasting friendships" and "move forward with confidence in my business."  I went, I made a few friends I hope to hang on to, I took some beautiful images and heard from people who have transformed their small businesses into annual six-figure empires.  I walked away feeling very conflicted because I felt like I should want what they have, I should want what they are offering, I should pay $700 for their courses and I should feel ashamed that my images don't look like theirs.

And then it clicked, after listening to the closing speakers talking about a million dollar wedding, these people are not my tribe.  I truly gagged on my coffee at the thought of anyone spending seven figures on a wedding.  Personally, I find that reprehensible and if that's you then I am no your photographer and it feels good to say that.

Those industry leaders are leading an industry that doesn't look, feel or speak like I do and frankly I don't think that industry even wants me.  But that is OK.  Truly it is.  It's better than OK because it has helped me define what tribe means to me.

My husband is super smart, if you don't know that yet you should.  He is way smarter than me and when I'm really down on myself about something he comes in with wisdom that makes me almost angry that he has to be that level headed and right about things.  One of the very first lessons my husband began to teach me in our relationship was to hone the voices that get to speak into your life.  I was, for the longest time, the queen of listening to everyone and trying to find consensus in the masses.  That was, and continues to be a recipe for failure and self-doubt.

Choosing the voices I let speak in to my life has been a continuous battle for contentment over consensus.  

Now let me be clear, choosing those voices, defining my tribe does not make me closed off or narrow-minded.  It does not mean I refuse to learn from anyone outside of little circle of like-mindedness.  The best thing about my tribe are the number of people that feel differently than me on a lot of things.

The biggest thing I had to learn was that saying no to allowing another voice to influence me and my decisions does not discount that person as a person, or as a business owner or even as an acquaintance.  I can choose not to let their story define my dreams and still hope the best for them.  But tribes are different.

Tribes are those who know your voice when you can barely speak.  They are people who speak truth into the murky waters and you find clarity within them.  They are those whose work speaks to your soul and the belief in why you create what you create.  You never leave them feeling like you're not enough.  They recognize difficulties and share wisdom or correction with grace and not superiority.  They are people in whom you recognize the wealth of knowledge and don't want to steal it from them, leading them to a trusting generosity with you.

Those are defining aspects of my tribe.  Those are the markers for what I am aiming for and trying to achieve.  I am by no means complete, but for now I have been making good use of my "unsubscribe" button on the thousands of emails that pull me in every direction.

Jordan, thank you for the great conversation and your faith in me, like I said, it means the world.  Noah, thank you for being wise and kind and the lifter of my head.  To my tribe, you know who you are and I am forever grateful for you.  To those seeking a tribe, thanks for making it this far, hopefully this will give you something to think about.

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