It’s a tribal thing

Schalk Neethling
3 min readMar 19, 2022


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

We human beings are social creatures. We always have been, always will be. Now, don’t misunderstand social in this context. I am not implying that everyone is secretly an extrovert. Instead, in this context, I am referring to the fact that we all crave social connection.

The need for social connection and being part of a tribe goes back to our ancestors. Back then, not being part of a tribe could literally prove fatal. But more than that, we crave recognition, belonging, and being understood. Through this, we get the ultimate payoff, safety.

While we might feel all of this is in the past. The safety offered by social connections is as important as ever. However, it is more than just the safety harm. Living in isolation for a prolonged time can be fatal.

In the 1960s, in the town of Rosetta, Pennsylvania, lived a group, or tribe, if you will, of Italian immigrants. Surrounded by English and Welsh neighbors who were not too fond of the Italians, these folks had to look out for each other. Social community gatherings were the norm, as were multi-generational homes. As a result, bonds formed that stretched across generations. When disaster struck, you were not left to struggle through the hard times by yourself. Instead, the entire community rallied together to support each other through the hard times.

During the early 70s, the younger folks felt like living in Rosetta was holding them back. So they moved to the big cities to study and to work. As a result, those multi-generational homes and social gatherings slowly disappeared. Instead, a sense of “every person for themselves” started to take hold.

Also, in the 70s, heart attack rates were dropping in most of the country. In the town of Rosetta, however, the first heart attack in a person under age 45 was recorded. The loss of community directly impacted people’s health!

Some of the many benefits to being part of a tribe include:

  • An improvement in the quality of life
  • Improved mental health
  • A longer life
  • A decreased risk of suicide
  • Lower instances of anxiety and depression

Why am I telling you all of this, though?

Firstly, I found it interesting and wanted to share the knowledge. Secondly, this could explain why many people resist change — changing their diets, drinking habits, musical tastes, and interests. Food and drink have always been something very personal. It is also very closely related to how people socialize.

If you, therefore, decide to go against the stream, so to speak, you risk your tribe ousting you. With all of the preceding story’s context, you can see how this can be anxiety-inducing. Therefore, this is the wrong way to approach this situation. Instead, we should ask ourselves if we want to be part of this tribe.

When you are part of a tribe, the bonds should go deeper than these superficial personality traits. These traits are not who we are. They do not define us as a person. They are fluent, and you should feel free to do what is best for you.

In fact, instead of ousting you, your true tribe should applaud you for making these changes. Instead of rejecting your decisions, they should ask for ways in which they can support you. They should want you to succeed as you want them to succeed.

The same goes for those dreaded feelings of guilt and shame that often accompany acknowledging that you have gone off the deep end. Or when you acknowledge that you are a fallible human being. You will know you have found your tribe when you are celebrated and supported instead of feeling guilt and shame.

In conclusion then. Don’t be scared to change yourself for the better based on the values of the tribe you find yourself a part of now. But, perhaps consider that you also need to find a new tribe.

Two articles I referenced in the writing of this post.

I write about mental health, addiction, sober living, and living your best life. If you find value in my writing, consider buying me a coffee ☕️



Schalk Neethling

I write about mental health, addiction, sober living, living your best life through an active lifestyle and a whole food plant-based diet. Psychedelic curios :)

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