Let’s talk today about finding your tribe.
Finding your tribe is a powerful primitive force. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (a motivational theory tool used in psychology to model human needs), love and belonging are one of the five tiers.
Healthy human beings, Maslow theorised, have a certain number of needs. These are in a pyramid with basic ones met at the bottom (water, food, shelter, rest) and others organised above including the need to belong: friendship, intimacy, trust, acceptance, affection, affiliation or love.
I struggled to find my sense of belonging because of low self-esteem. It took time to find a place where I was comfortable. I felt too geeky for the cool crowd, too cool for the geeky crowd, too loud for the quiet crowd, not loud enough for the loud crowd, too chubby for the sporty crowd. You get the picture.
Finding your tribe is about looking into yourself as it is about other people; spending time reflecting on what matters to you and not what you think matters to others.
Settling on your principles shapes your behaviour and provides structure to the types of people you want to share your life with.
Developing self-awareness helped me realise my ego had created a distorted narrative of inferiority and social division where I compartmentalised and compared.
It’s easy to project how you feel onto others. I started making a conscious effort not to judge as much. How often have we met someone and immediately decided they are not ‘our type’, for example? This is your ego at work, peering through the prism of its own perspective. Opening your mind to the possibility you may have loads in common with this person, or group of people, unlocks more opportunities than pre-determination.
And if they don’t share your values you’ll realise pretty quickly and give them a wide berth. You’ll swerve that passive-aggressive person who is all ‘MeMeMe’ and makes damaging comments through a tinkly faux laugh or mock sympathy. You’ll kick into touch that man/woman you fancied but turned out to be malevolent and disrespectful.
Perhaps do that thing you’ve always wanted to do by treating it as an adventure. Where will it take you? You may find you possess an untapped talent for being a bobsleigh pilot or a violin player or you’re the next air guitar world champion. Being indiscriminate and trying new things helps evaluate what works and what doesn’t. (Hello Air Guitar World Champ 2018!)
What I found was that I didn’t have to be perfect at something to enjoy myself. I love running despite not being a natural athlete and have met some of the best people through my running club and further afield.
And hey, even if you dislike it, congratulate yourself for the experience and move on. You’ve lost nothing and gained a heap of experience for your life catalogue.
Do today what you delayed yesterday. For some time I wanted a solo short break but sought out excuses to delay it. Why? Ego started yapping away, damaging my dreams: ‘What if I miss the train? What if people stare at me eating alone in restaurants? What if I am bored, or lonely?’
Enough already! I made plans and tackled the ‘what if’ with practical steps to stay safe and stress-free. I packed days with early morning runs and sightseeing tours. Far from feeling self-conscious, eating alone in gorgeous restaurants was a real treat and rather amusing. (I like to think I invited secret speculation I was a Michelin inspector although I stopped short of whipping out an actual notebook to jot notes). Every night was a three-course night.
Take risks. Maybe you’ve sacked off invites because you were fretting over what people would think of you. Stop! Rewire your thinking and unlock those opportunities to meet new folk. You may meet a new bestie, the love of your life, a new career opportunity, networks that invigorate your thinking. Your tribe inventory will be strong.
Knowing yourself and what you stand will lead you to the tribes you want to be part of. They are people who share some or all your values. You’ll be similar in many ways but very different in others because, well, if we were all the same, life would be very dull wouldn’t it?
Your tribe won’t drain you, they’ll lift you up and have your back no matter what. You’ll find your tribe is a combination of cool, geeky, quiet, loud, sporty. Your vibe will find your tribe.