In one of our posts, Mamta talked about a tribe and how it can be so useful especially when you are in a new environment – be it in personal life or at work. Her tribe gave her a sense of belonging and love in a new country when she moved to United States. But I, honestly, struggled to find my tribe. It takes me so much time to open up to people. Leave alone open up, I feel awkward just conducting friendly banter, approaching strangers, telling someone about myself or starting a conversation (although having a kid helps, you can always complain about the mess as a conversation starter). So I would ask myself often, HOW do I find my tribe?
A few days ago, I had a very brave woman ask me the same question. I say brave because she has moved cities more times in her life than I have changed jobs. And she has recently done it once again for a new job. So let’s see – she has a new job, needs to find a new client base (she is a lawyer), make new friends, is single, and knows no one in the city (absolutely zero)! Just that in itself was so courageous and commendable to me! I wanted to give her a standing ovation and applaud her bravery. Was she scared and felt lonely, you bet. But what I saw in her was the eagerness to make it work and to make this new city her own. So she asked me – how do I make friends here, how do I get to know people? For a second, I wanted to laugh out loud and tell her, you are asking the absolutely wrong person! I have the utmost difficulty making friends, especially in this phase of my life when I have very little time to invest in meaningful friendships.
But I did not tell her that, since I wanted to definitely help her. I had to think long and hard but I came up with some ideas (which she said were very useful), so I figured, I would share these with you all too. But before I do that, there are a few things I would encourage you to think about:
Think about what it is that you are really looking for. Are you looking for friends to hang out with? Are you looking for people in a similar profession? Are you looking to make new mommy friends? The clearer you are, the easier it will be for you to find like- minded people.
Don’t lose yourself, find people you can relate with. While it may be tempting to mold yourself to the types of people you are meeting and jump in the types of conversation they are having, in the end, lasting relationships will be those where you can relate to people, connect with them at some level and be yourself. They may or may not be interested in the same things at the same times, but they will help you feel alive and find joy. In my experience, this is the most difficult thing to do, to fight the peer pressure of fitting in a pre-cast mold.
Be accepting of people. You don’t know about the past or the current situation someone might be in, so don’t jump to conclusions. At the same time, weed out people who are very quick to judge, you don’t want nor need that kind of negativity around you.
Alright, now that you have thought through these, here are some suggestions that might help you:
- Meetup – This is a very powerful way of meeting new people. There are several different types of meetups out there – professional, hobby-oriented, support groups, mentorship, or just plain old neighborhood meet up. You name it, they have a meet up about it. And, if you can’t find one, start one of your own! I met this lady I talked about in one of those meetups (Only disclaimer being, to use your best judgment regarding location of these events and be safe always)
- Pursue your hobbies – The Zumba class you always wanted to try, that book club you wanted to join, the baking course you wanted to sign up for, do it! You might meet some like-minded people. I found some life-long friends in a Bollywood dance class I signed up for
- Local clubs – Running club, gold club, art club, whatever rocks your boat
- Local city events – Every city has some local and free events, especially in summer, so go out and explore the city. Even if you do not meet anyone new, you will have a conversation starter when you do
- Networking events –There are several networking events by industry, occupation, technology and others, so join these
- Volunteer – Find a non-profit or a local charity which you would like to support and invest some time volunteering there
- Ask for referrals – When you meet people, ask them to introduce you to other people, friends of friends, friends of clients, whoever in their network who can help you find out what you are looking for
There is absolutely one last thing I want to say – take action and put yourself out there. No action means no results. I wish you the very best in finding your tribe and please do share with us what helped you the most.