Some of us searched for a long time before we found our tribes, and some of us are searching still. But the search is worth it. The good times just aren’t nearly as good without friends to share them with, and the hard times are just that much harder when we face them on our own.
And just in case you need any more reason to cherish your tribe, friendship actually protects your health. Over the years strong social connections have been proven to promote a host of positive health outcomes. People with a secure social support system have a reduced risk of depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and are even likelier to live longer.
Read on below for some more thoughts on what a good group of friends looks like, why it’s so valuable, and how to know that you’ve found your tribe.
1. They encourage you to be yourself
Good friends don’t want you to be just like them; they want you to be just like you. You know you’ve found your tribe when your friends love you not because you’re similar, but because you’re different. After all, a band wouldn’t be that great if it was made up of just five drummers, and the Avengers wouldn’t last long if they were only five hulks. Your tribe should celebrate the things you share in common, but it should also celebrate all the ways you’re unique.
2. They encourage you to be honest
Friendly acquaintances may let you slide, but a real friend will push you to be honest about how you’re really feeling. Good friends show up to support one another, and to know just what sort of support to give and when to provide it, we need to be able to tell each other when we’re hurting, when we’re anxious, and we just don’t feel like ourselves.
3. They give you space to make mistakes
Even a great friend isn’t a perfect person, which is A-okay because you’re not perfect either, and neither are we. A strong group of friends gives each other the space to be imperfect, to mess up. This is unlike a friendly acquaintance, your tribe holds you accountable to your mistakes so that next time you can do better, where an acquaintance will just let the mistake go and not call you out. A real friend is someone who not only want to help us feel better but someone who wants to help us be better and will take the time to make this happen.
4. Through thick and thin
Rain or shine, your tribe is there. We need friends to celebrate during good times, and we especially need them there to support us when the going is rough. When we’re facing an emotional crisis or a mental health challenge, few things help us to cope as well as a strong, reliable network of friends.
5. Your friends encourage you to grow
Change in a relationship can be a frightening prospect—if you change, then how will you relate to each other, and how will the relationship change? You know you’ve found your tribe when they aren’t afraid to see you learn and improve. Your friends may love you just the way you are, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to see you grow and become the best version of yourself.
If you are still searching for your tribe, keep at it. Don’t lose faith. Some things take time and always a bit of luck. For more of our thoughts on how to find your friends, click here.
We want to know what your tribe means to you and your wellbeing. How do you show up for each other, and how have your friends have shown up for you? Join the conversation on social using the hashtags #BeWell, #BeHeard, and #BeThere.
If you want to talk to other teens about the challenges you’re facing, there are teens at Teen Line who want to listen. Call 310-855-4673, or text TEEN to 839863. Teen Line is open for calls from 6-10 PM California time. Another contact is Oregon Youth Line – Call 877-968-8491 or text TEEN2TEEN to 839863.