Saturday 26 May 2018

Tribe and Untribe (A Trip to the Pub)

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote about visiting Wylam Brewery Tap Room at the Palace of Arts in Exhibition Park, Newcastle. I returned today and as I sit (inside, because there’s some sort of food festival going on outside in the beer garden) I am thinking back over the months that have passed since I was here last.

My wife Pam and I have enjoyed three vacations in Cumbria: a week last July in Bowness, a week in October just outside Brough, and a week this April in Appleby. Christmas was spent quietly at home. In March we travelled down to Liverpool with our two adult children for my mother’s funeral.

At work, well I’m still “doing the same job in the same place” which hasn’t challenged me for quite some time. However, as of the past two weeks I am feeling far more optimistic and engaged. She refuses to take any of the credit but this is very much down to my brilliant boss Judith, with buy in and encouragement from senior management all the way up to and including our Chief Exec.

It occurs to me this is the third Newcastle pub I have been in this month, which must be some sort of record! It’s not the alcohol (though I would be hard pressed to fault the pint of Collingwood Pale Ale I’m drinking). Rather, it’s a growing confidence in myself as someone who needn’t feel out of place in a social setting. I am reminded of something I wrote some time ago:

Be aware of the stories we tell ourselves, especially those that begin “I'm not the kind of person who ...”

Although I’m here on my own today, an important aspect of this is that I have people locally who are glad to see me and places and events where we can meet. As I wrote recently, I have found my tribe.

Of course, if there is a tribe there must be an untribe. Fran and I have been talking recently about the importance of boundaries and distinguishing healthy connections from unhealthy ones. About those people we recognise (and are recognised by) as “our people.” Those we resonate with. Those we feel safe with and respected by.

This doesn’t mean we get to ignore or behave badly towards people who are not our tribe. (I’ve come a long way from the days when I had an Inner Circle of “Special People,” and I’m not going back there!) But it does mean we get to respect our boundaries and decide where to focus our time and energy.

There is a flipside, of course, which is that we may find ourselves on the outside of other people’s boundaries. There will be (there are, I guarantee it) people for whom we — our attention, our attitudes, life choices etc. — are fundamentally unhealthy. Even toxic. And that’s okay too. Respect the other person. Respect yourself. And move on.

I’m here. I’m me. I’m growing. I’m learning. I’m flawed. I mess up. I fess up. I love. I am loved. It is enough. I am enough.

Mine’s a pint, by the way. Cheers!


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