Who’s in your five? A mentor of mine asked me that question, and I honestly couldn’t answer. He was saying that when you have a challenge in life, lean into the five closest people in your community.
Over the years, I’ve developed a tribe of very positive, inspiring people. I have a church home, lead a small group for young married couples, live on a street where everyone knows everybody, teach an acting class, take an acting class, participate in a group chat and keep up with family. My tribe looks great on paper; it consists of people I look up to, people I mentor, people I do life with, people that make me laugh, people that show up when asked. On the outside, I’m surrounded by good folks. But my mentor made me realize something: I hadn’t really let any of them “in.”
Here’s a perfect example. On my wedding day, I handed out three plaques to the women in my life who have stepped up as “mothers” in my life after my mom passed. In essence, I was telling saying, “Tag, you’re it. When I need a mom, I trust you will show up and support. In turn, I will show up as a daughter and love your family as my own.” It was a beautiful gesture, and I’ve been in contact with all of these women. But overall, I’ve only really talked to them about how life is going when life was too hard for me to handle alone. That’s not relationship. If my mom was still here, I would show up for dinner and check in just because. The reason I haven’t really done this with these ladies is because I don’t want to be a bother.
So, back to my “aha” moment with my mentor. “Who’s in your five?” I decided for the first time to conduct an experiment. Typically, I go through challenging times in private and celebrate the victory with my tribe after I’ve gone through it . . . alone. I know that’s crazy, but what can I say? It’s learned behavior. So, here’s the experiment. The last time I was in the middle of a challenge, I decided to reach out to my tribe. I mean everybody. I wanted to know what it felt like to be supported; I texted/called my substitute moms, messaged my small group, texted my friends in the group chat and called my dad.
The result was interesting. Some people didn’t respond at all. Some people didn’t know how to respond. Some gave me the basic, “love you, praying for you” response, and they kind of disappeared into the business of their own lives. (I’ve done this before SOOOO many times, so I’m not judging.) I had hour-long conversations with others: people I hadn’t really talked to in years. Some people LITERALLY showed up, which surprised me.
Now that I’m better and on the other side of the challenge, I learned something about my squad. Not every relationship is created equal. Some people, I’m there to serve. Some people are clutch when I’m in a bind and need good advice. Some people are great at just being there. Some people support me well and are safe to lean on. I learned that in order to have true relationships, I have to let some people in. I don’t have to let everyone in, but I need in “inner circle.” They can’t just orbit around my life, they have to be invited into the messiness of it, and in turn, I need to jump into theirs.
So, I chose my five. They’ve always been there, but I’m proud to say that over the last week, I’ve contacted all of them and intentionally let them in. They may change over time, and that’s okay. The point is that I started a journey of vulnerability in my closest relationships, and I’m elated! I’ve had some “just because” conversations. I’ve also had some long, hardy belly-laughs. I’ve had some deeper conversations, with awesome exchanges of wisdom. It’s been amazing. I feel supported. I feel loved. I’m not doing life alone, and it has been life-giving to my soul and body. My friend, I hope and pray that I maintain this practice because it’s just so healthy. I feel a difference already. I also pray that your squad supports you well and that you “belong” somewhere. If not, take the risk and start letting someone in. We were made for that kind of thing.
About me . . .
I'm Cyrah Hill. I'm a woman of faith, an actor and an everyday black girl.