It all started with Sex and the City. Four fabulous women living life, conquering heartache, lassoing fears, and doing it together. They were a unit – unbreakable.
Fast forward ten years; Carrie and her crew are no longer on television, but Meredith and Christina took over our screens in their blue scrubs calling out, “you’re my person” all over the place, and the cycle repeats itself. Our culture has carefully crafted a narrative that’s impossible to escape – find your tribe, love them hard. The media and the ever present Taylor Swift will stop at nothing to convince us “squad” is queen. And the beloved Meredith Grey regularly calls to the inner workings of a heart that you must have a “person” to get through adversity.
Hear my heart, ladies, “tribe” is not bad. “Squad” isn’t something to avoid. Having a “person” or “people” isn’t inherently negative. But, what if you don’t find yourself one part of an invincible quad of girls? What if you have some good friends, but they’re all from different seasons, which means they’re all different kinds of friends? What if your “person” isn’t someone your own age, but your mom? Or a crew of kiddos living in India? What does that tell the world about us? I’ll confess at thirty-years old I’m still learning it’s not a negative reflection of my soul that I don’t belong to a tribe. I can recall my high school experience – varsity cheerleader who also participated in summer musicals. Dated jocks and close friends with basketball players. I never felt I belonged exclusively to one particular group, and at the time, I didn’t think twice about it. Somewhere along the line, I became an adult, and the pressure of being a part of, and knowing, a tribe became all-encompassing. I needed a tribe, to squad up, to have a person and, as a result, be someone else’s person in return.
It eventually led to crippling anxiety attacks and a whole lot of unhealthy habits. And Jesus came in soft and steady for me – kiddo, you were made for Me. Anyone else in your life is a gift, but I promise, you’re whole and lovely all by yourself. And I think that’s the problem when we misplace our trust in the gifts instead of the Gift-Giver. I stopped seeing friends as extra sprinkles and started placing my joy and value in whether or not I was included in things or a person with whom someone could trust important information. As it turns out, we will always lack if we are measuring our value by how another human treats us.
I still enjoy Sex and the City and Grey’s Anatomy. But like so many things designed to be simple pleasures for us, it can quickly escalate into a comparative nightmare, if I don’t remind myself rather quickly of a couple things. I have wonderful friends. Most of them don’t know each other, some of them don’t live in my zip code, and a few of them are either related to me or under the age of twenty, but they enrich my life experiences. I am not lacking something, or less than. I am wholly loved.
In a world always reminding me what I don’t have, I must remember I will always have just what I need. We are worthy, sisters, whether we identify as one member in a tribe, or as a free-spirited woman who has friends in several places, or as a feeling human with just one close friend. We are worthy – don’t let this broken world tell you otherwise. Squad is not queen, Jesus is King, and you are magic – no matter the number of friends you hold close.
- by Stephani Duff,