This trend continued for several years. I moved around to different circles, taking on different shapes depending on each new circle of friends. One trend that did not change, my orientation to friendship was based on being accepted into it by others. My goal was to morph into whatever was most likely to keep me in that circle. I was what is commonly referred to as a follower.
In high school things began to change for me. I was attending a school in a much browner community. At this time I broke out of those familiar, safe, circles and began crafting my own relationships based on my values and convictions. Except for when it came to boys, I was the conductor. I was popular. I was a strong leader. I was a respected friend. I was a change agent. Choosing appropriate boyfriends would come later.
By the time college came around I was pretty scrutinizing when it came to investing emotionally in people, at least I aspired to be. I was starting over 2,000 miles from home. As the only person from Utah attending Howard University, it took me a year to gain my friendship footing. I had learned by then what specific characteristics of friendship I wanted to be associated with in my circles. They included; smart, adventurous, spirited, fun, popular, God-fearing, and accepting.
It has been thirty years, most of my friends today extend from my friendship circles in college. I treasure these relationships like no others.
As I think about my new friendships since college they have a few qualities in common. I call this period of my life "Finding my tribe." My tribe includes folks I would not mind being stranded on a desert island with. They come in all shapes and colors. People who don't fluctuate much; what you see is what you get. My tribe gets me too. My quirkiness, my self-deprivation, awkward timing, crying at the movies, and showcasing....like the time I spontaneously broke out into dance with a stranger in the middle of the street.
Finding my tribe has meant at times, trimming its borders, leaving behind some of those relationships I had sworn were forever. It's okay I tell myself. It is okay to choose your tribe.