The secret to building a killer network
(The photo is of me and some beautiful friends who are part of my network, but not part of this conversation.)
The following is a not-that-heavily-edited reproduction of a chat that I had with my friend, in which she wanted to brainstorm but I ended up thought-vomiting at her. She was gracious enough to say that my thought-vomit was useful to her, so I am posting the content of our conversation here with her permission.
I’m realizing I’m also feeling disconnected, friend-wise. Which I’m sure is where some of this longing is coming from. I need to build up a delicious, subversive friend network. How do I do that?
Oh my god. That is everything.
My network is all right, but it’s been / could be stronger.
well, you have me, which is like, so great.
Basically all I need.
I would feel profoundly unsatisfied and lonely without my network. My #1 secret for getting a killer network, which applies only to myself because it’s based only on my experience and my brain. And I say it’s a secret because it was a secret to me until recently.
It’s a simple three step process! [insert manic smile with photoshopped teeth]
One: Take diligent stock of everything that I am ashamed of, hate the most inside myself, everything about myself that feels ambivalent and sticky. Then look squarely at it, sit with it, own it, celebrate it. (This process is a breeze, you can tell.)
Two: Bring all one hundred percent me as much as possible to wherever I go (a.k.a. radical integrity-making).
This is my secret of creating powerful friendships and networks.
Where does step 1 come into play re: building a badass network?
Wow, we’re getting deep. Okay. I believe that what’s around us externally is a reflection of what’s inside us. I mean, with some serious caveats. Not so much if you’re a victim of crime or a wartime refugee, but if you’re dealing with mostly first world problems, then it can be a very useful construct.
So I’m definitely mostly awesome but with some suckage. Got it.
I mean, this is a hard idea because, it’s definitely not, “if your network sucks, it’s because you suck.” It’s not that kind of law of attraction garbage. It’s more like, the more you get into radical integrity with yourself, the more things in your life that aren’t aligned with your most burning, urgent truth falls away.
Radical integrity. I like this.
For example, I’m friends with you, wonderful you, right? and I’m friends with some other awesome people. To get to the version of me who could attract you and other awesome people into my life, into my network, I had to burn so many bridges. Not that you need to burn bridges, but, the point is, so much bullshit has to die before your truth can shine. I lost so many friends, so many aspects of my formerly held identities, so many other networks to which I belonged half-heartedly. I lost relationships that I thought were true and in the best service of me. I found out that they actually weren’t, because those went away on their own as I became more and more of myself.
Ooo, belonging half-heartedly. This is key.
I was clinging to (not saying you’re doing this, I was) half-hearted, or even 3/4-hearted friendships, relationships and commitments. The reason is important. It’s because I thought I wouldn’t be okay without their approval, without their liking me.
Yeah, that’s a crap motivator, but super compelling.
The reason I thought I needed their approval is because I was conflicted about my own internal landscape. Once I gathered up all of the parts of me — all the fucked up, miserable, vain, arrogant, evil, lazy, embarrassing, psychotic parts of me and said, listen, y’all have given me hell, and I wish I were some superhuman species who can exist without blemishes —
Don’t we all!
… but here we are, and I think actually it’s better to be human because it means I can love and be loved by other people who are also kind of fucked. So let’s call truce. I am still fucked up, miserable, vain, arrogant, evil, lazy, embarrassing, psychotic and I no longer think I need to be different because I’m just a person and I’m awake and trying and flailing just like everyone else. This allowed me the freedom to escape from approval-seeking. Oh, someone thinks I’m ornery and weird? Guess what, I already know and respectfully don’t care and like myself anyway, at least half the time.
I am fascinated by this.
I reached a state of of not giving a fuck and when I did that, I lost a bunch of friends — or, people moved from the inside of my circle to the periphery — and then, when I do that, there is always one person who is like, “oh my god, I love you” and that person becomes part of my inner circle forever. This is how I picked up all the best people in my life, honestly.
So that is my crazy long, and generally just crazy answer to the question of, how does working on your internal landscape help with networking. I don’t want a loose network of people whom I superficially enjoy, who could be useful to me potentially in practical ways. I want a burning, red-hot, connected-by-magic, fiercely witchy, super-exclusive coven which electrifies me, gets me in the full glory (and horror) of my humanness, with whom I can plot nothing short of a revolution.
Everything I’m telling you — which I’m mostly saying as a way to re-teach myself — boils down to one concept: radical integrity. When you practice radical integrity, in the short term, you might end up with fewer friends and less of the kinds of satisfaction that you’re used to.
You might feel like you’re drifting further away from the vision of life that you thought you wanted. But then the process of getting the thing that is even better has already begun.
No part of this is neat and clean and #SatisfactionGuaranteed. It’s hard, it’s messy, it’s endlessly wobbly-feeling, it’s not for the faint of heart. This mission is only entrusted to those who can show up for the crazy hard work.
I am it. And you are it.