Let’s talk about how to find your tribe.
How to find the people you feel at home with. The people you can connect with. The people who get you. The people who have your back.
How to find YOUR people.
Finding this tribe of people can be a hurdle for us introverts.
For one, many of us battle various insecurities arising from our past experiences as something less than social butterflies. Can I call us social turtles? 😉
For two, we actually like solitude, so sticking to that mode can be infinitely easier than inching out of your comfort zone and going through the awkwardness of meeting new people.
And yet, even introverts NEED people in their lives. Without the right people in our lives, we get lonely just like anyone else. Most introverts are not antisocial – we are simply differently social. We tend to enjoy a different way of socializing than the extravert-default. A calmer, quieter way. More focus, more depth. One or two people at a time.
So how do you get that? What should you do if you are feeling lonely? What should you do if you feel like you have not yet found your people?
Well, here are my suggestions for how to find your tribe.
How To Find Your Tribe
1. Get Specific About What You Are Looking For
Finding your tribe is just like any other goal in that the more specific you get about what exactly it is that you are looking for, the more likely you are to reach your goal.
So give some thought to what kind of tribe you are looking for.
For starters, how big is your tribe? Are you actually looking for a tribe or more like a small band?
And what exactly do you want from your tribe members?
- People to do things with? If yes, what things?
- People to have conversations with? If yes, what about?
- People who share your interests? If yes, what interests?
- People with whom you share a mutual understanding without a ton of effort?
- People who are one step ahead of you and will challenge you to grow?
- People who share your lifestyle preferences and will encourage you to stick to your chosen path?
You might actually want to go all out and write these specifics down. The more clarity you have, the better.
2. Prepare For The Fact That Most People Are Not In Your Tribe
This seems so obvious to me now, but not understanding this point had me stuck in the wrong crowd for literally decades, so I think it deserves to be emphasized. Most people you encounter in life are NOT your people.
You might believe that being open-minded and accepting people as they are is the right thing to do. However, being accepting of people doesn’t mean that you have to give your time and become friends with everyone you meet first come, first serve.
This is particularly key for introverts who only have so much social energy to go around. You don’t have time for everyone. So the few people in your life really need to count. You have to be selective.
When you meet people, pay attention to how you feel around them and how you feel immediately after the meeting. This is tricky, because meeting new people will sap your energy even if they are, ultimately, your people. However, if that feeling doesn’t go away after the first few encounters, that’s a sign that they are not your people. Pay attention to it!
3. Prepare For The Fact That The Members Of Your Tribe Are Not Your Clones
With the above being said, it’s also important to not err in the other extreme and be TOO selective. Depending on what you are looking for, it may be too much to expect one person to meet all your requirements.
For example, here are my current top interests in no particular order: blogging, personality type theory, nutrition and whole foods, zero-waste and environmentally conscious living, bare-foot running, interior design and renovating fixer-uppers, parenting, marriage, world travel, permaculture gardening, and reality TV.
Now, do you think I could reasonably expect to find a tribe of people who share ALL of these exact same interests? I don’t think so. Given my limited time and energy, my tribe members each ideally tick more than one of these boxes, but I have had to accept that I share different interests with different people in my life.
It’s okay to be a member of more than one tribe.
4. Prepare For The Fact That Finding Your Tribe May Take A While
Given that you might have to work through a lot of non-tribe members, and given that, as an introvert, you balance people time with solitude, the process of finding your tribe may take a while.
Don’t let that discourage you. You could look at this process as kinda like dating. Some people have to date a lot before they find the ONE. But when they do, they realize that it was totally worth all the work and waiting.
So it is with finding the rest of your people. It can be a long process, but keep your eye on the rewards at the end.
5. Prepare For The Fact That You May Have To Get Uncomfortable
Another unavoidable hazard of finding your tribe is that you will probably experience some discomfort along the way.
Meeting new people is awkward even if they are your people. And it can be anxiety provoking to try new things or go to new places as part of your search.
Prepare for these feelings and expect them as part of the process. Your tribe isn’t going to just show up ringing your doorbell one day – you have to venture outside your comfort zone to find them.
6. Look Close First
Ok, now let’s actually start looking. The easiest way to get started is to think about people you already know. Can any of them be turned into members of your tribe?
- Do you already know someone who ticks the boxes, but who could play a bigger part in your life?
- Do you already know someone who might share your interests if you opened up about them more?
- Do you sort of know someone who might have potential if you got to know him or her better?
- Can you introduce people from different parts of your life to each other in order to form a group?
7. Expand Your Search With Intention
When the people you already know don’t cut it, you need to expand your search. But to give this search the best possible chance of success, do it with intention.
If you just go to a generic “people in their 30s going out” or “stay-at-home moms” meetup, you are going to have to weed through a lot more people than if you go to a club or meeting centered around a specific interest.
You are looking for people who share your likes and dislikes, so following your own interests is the way to go. What are YOU interested in. What do YOU like to do? Where do YOU like to hang out?
Here are some concrete ways to get started:
- Find a local club or an organization centered around something you feel passionate about or a new hobby you have always wanted to try.
- Look through Meetup for any groups that seem like they could be a good fit.
- Look for an online forum or Facebook group centered around your interests. Yes, having a local tribe of people is nice, but with email, facetime, and skype, you can have perfectly satisfying friendships with people pretty much anywhere on the globe.
8. Make The First Move
When you spot someone with potential, be prepared to make the first move. Wanna know why? Because if you want your tribe to include at least some fellow introverts, one of you has to overcome your nature and it might as well be you.
I know making the first move can seem like a terrifying prospect, but you can do it!
Introverts often have a hard time thinking on the spot, so do a little preparation in advance.
Given the nature of the event or occasion, what questions could you potentially ask to start a conversation?
And what if you were to meet someone with super potential? How could you attempt to keep the relationship going? Could you ask to exchange email addresses to get together to [INSERT ACTIVITY] sometime? Could you invite them to go see a movie or go to an event or try a new restaurant?
What’s the worst thing that can happen? They say no. Big whoop. You’ll find out right away that it wasn’t your person and you can move on to someone else.
Which brings me to my next point…
9. Be Authentic
The worst thing you can do when searching for your tribe is to keep molding yourself into a person that everyone likes. When you act out of character and put on a people pleaser mask, you will keep attracting the wrong people.
I’m not saying that you should reveal your whole life’s story or express your grumpy side within the first 10 minutes of meeting someone. But think about how you act when you are comfortable with people. Think about what comes naturally to you in the long term. Those are the characteristics you want to make known as early in the relationship as possible.
If you want people to love the authentic you, you need to reveal the authentic you.
Yes, this is risky and scary. But do it anyway. Not everyone is going to like you or have room for you in their lives. That’s okay. Those are not your people. And the quickest way to weed through those people and find YOUR tribe is to stay authentic to who you are.
10. Start Your Own Tribe
If all else fails, make the ultimate first move and start your own tribe. Start your own book club. Start your own group on Meetup. Start a blog.
There are seven billion people out there. Your people are among them.
If you can’t find them, make yourself visible so that they can find YOU.