How to find your tribe

tribe

The other weekend, I was curled up on a friend’s living room couch, sipping a mug of hot tea, and chatting with a few of my closest friends.

I looked around at the women in front of me, and a huge wave of gratitude hit me full force. If you ask me, there’s seriously nothing better than being surrounded by awesome people who unequivocally understand, accept, and love me, exactly as I am.

I know that, with this group of women, I never have to censor what I say, or hold back tears if they start to flow, or worry about if they’re judging me. There’s no part of me that feels like it needs to stay hidden and quiet in their presence. Whenever I’m with them, I feel like my whole body breathes a sigh of relief and I can be 100% myself.

Over the past few years, as I’ve become more me than I’ve ever been, I feel like I’ve been slowly attracting my “tribe.” These women are more than my friends — they’re my soul family. These are my people.

Sometimes, though, being with them brings back painful memories of the times when I didn’t have anything close to a tribe … when I felt like I didn’t totally belong anywhere.

WHEN IT FEELS LIKE NO ONE GETS YOU

Feeling like you don’t really fit in anywhere — like you don’t have a tribe of people who really get you and support you — well frankly, it’s awful. You can be in a room full of people and still feel lonely. You may start to wonder if you’re the weird one (you’re not), or if it’s really even possible to have such a strong, intimate group of friends now that you’re an adult (it is).

I’ve had multiple conversations with clients lately about this very feeling. They’re frustrated and lonely because they haven’t yet found their tribe. One client said…

“Don’t get me wrong, I have friends and we have fun together. But sometimes it feels like they don’t really ‘get me,’ you know? Like the relationship is kind of one-sided. And like our conversations are lacking the depth that I’m really craving. I just don’t feel like I’ve really found my ‘tribe’ yet.”

HOW TO FIND YOUR TRIBE

That made me reflect back and think, “Hmm, how did I find my tribe?” Because I certainly didn’t always feel like I had one. And now that I feel deeply rooted in my own amazing, and still growing tribe … I want everyone to know what this feels like.

I’m not going to say that this is unequivocally the only way to find your people, but this definitely worked for me.

1. Be unapologetically yourself

If you ever hope to deeply connect with people, then you’re going to have to be completely, unapologetically yourself. I know, I know, this is cliché advice, and I hate clichés. But honestly, if this doesn’t come first, then everything else I’m about to say is irrelevant. So stay with me here for a minute.

twitter-bird When you’re being totally yourself, you’ll magnetize the right people to you.

It’s like tuning to a specific radio station to hear the kind of music you like. If you’re tuned to the wrong station, you’ll hate all the songs and start to think there’s no good music out there anymore. Not true … you’re simply on the wrong station.

Being yourself is like tuning to the right social radio station — the more full-out YOU you’re being, the more tribe-like people you’re naturally going to attract.

{I feel like I should give a warning that if you’re being yourself, not everyone will understand or appreciate you — in fact, some people may actively dislike or ignore you. But that’s OK. You’re not trying to befriend everyone on the planet — you’re seeking out a handful of YOUR people.}

Start by recognizing the places where you know you’re definitely NOT being yourself (for me, this was my old workplace), and try bringing just a little bit more of your authentic personality into that setting. How would you be even the tiniest bit more YOU?

2. Plan your life according to the 9-out-of-10 rule

The 9-out-of-10 rule is simple: Only say “yes” to things that you’d rank as at least a 9 out of 10. (That’s according to your own personal scale, based on your interests, values, and personality.)

This goes for events, social invites, projects, classes, hobbies, creative settings, fitness classes, virtual communities, etc. When you’re only saying yes to things you absolutely love, then 1) it’ll be easier for you to be yourself in that setting, and 2) you’ll find other people who love what you love. When you’re being YOU in a setting that feels totally exciting and deeply comfortable, your chances of connecting with your potential tribe members are huge.

If you’re half-heartedly showing up somewhere out of obligation or FOMO, you’re WAY less likely to bump into your people.

3. Get vulnerable

Even if you’re surrounded by awesome, likeminded people, you won’t build your tribe if you’re not willing to open up and have deep conversations, even when it feels vulnerable.

twitter-bird Small talk doesn’t lead to soul friendships. You have to open up and get vulnerable.

At my last job, I felt like no one really understood me on a deep level. I had some friends and acquaintances, but there was no one who I deeply connected with. (Or so I thought.)

I’d pretty much written off ever having great work relationships … until I heard that one of my co-workers (a woman who I’d only chatted casually with a handful of times) had submitted a video to try to win a scholarship for Marie Forleo’s B-School (a course for online entrepreneurs).

Nervously, I peeked into her office and said, “Psst, I heard you made a video for B-School.” I watched an “Oh, shit, someone found me out” expression wash across her face briefly, until I continued with, “…I made one, too.”

It was vulnerable to admit to someone I barely knew that I wanted to leave that job and start my own business. But it opened up space for a real conversation, and now that co-worker is one of my very favorite people on the planet and absolutely a tribe member.

For you, getting vulnerable might mean opening up about yourself. Or stating how you really feel about something. Or asking someone on a friend date (“Hey, wanna grab coffee soon?”). It’s uncomfortable at first, but it’s absolutely necessary for deep connections.

4. Trust your gut feelings along the way

I don’t care how awesome someone looks on paper or how much you seem to have in common; there are people you’re going to connect with and others who you just never will. Finding your tribe is a lot like dating — there’s chemistry or there’s not, and you can’t force it.

As you’re getting to know someone, check in with your intuition.

Do you feel relaxed and easy around them? Or do you feel like conversation and connection is strained? Your gut feelings will make it clear if you’ve found a potential tribe member or not. You’ll intuitively know if there’s a natural connection or if it feels forced.

5. Be patient

You might hate this part (and I don’t blame you), but the truth is … finding your tribe may take a little longer than you’d like. These people are rare gems — they’re a small minority of the people you’re going to meet on a daily basis. That’s what makes them so special.

The good news is that you don’t need a ton of them. In fact, you really only need to start with one! It’s not up to you to find your entire tribe. Just focus on creating that deep, soulful connection with one person, and they’ll naturally lead you to another … and another … and another. And before you know it, you’ll find yourself sitting on a friend’s couch, nearly in tears of gratitude for finally having your own tribe.

So tell me, have you already found your tribe, or are you still looking for them? How does this resonate with you today? Leave me a comment to let me know!

Much Love,

Kristen (+ Rachel)

 

25 Comments // ADD COMMENT

25 comments

  • Bria

    I really enjoyed this article! I especially liked the “9-out-of-10” rule. I will be using this in daily life from now on!

    • Kristen Walker

      I LOVE the 9-out-of-10 rule! I seriously use it ALL the time.

      I wish I could say that I came up with that myself, but I actually got it from an amazing book called Essentialism by Greg McKeown (it’s all about doing less to get more — I totally recommend checking it out!).

  • Sarah B

    So very true, and as crazy as it seems, so very hard to let yourself do sometimes.

    • Kristen Walker

      You’re right, it is hard to do sometimes. Because it feels so uncomfortable and vulnerable to put yourself out there like that!

      Don’t feel like you have to make massive changes all at once, though. If you just take little steps consistently, the process feels way less daunting. And it’s incredibly worth it!

  • Shadz

    I honestly don’t understand how these clarity gems manage to say exactly what I’m thinking or worrying about at the exact time. It’s actually quite scary how weirdly telepathically connected I feel to you both. I sadly haven’t found my tribe yet. I constantly think/worry about how to make new friends, the kind of friends who will lead me to my highest vibration, but I have yet to find them. I have a handful of friends I see and do stuff with, but I just don’t feel like there’s that kind of strong connection there. I am constantly looking for ways to improve their lives, help them, do things for and with them, but I don’t get that same effort in return. I don’t feel valued or appreciated, and as a 22 year old who’s confused about her life, doesn’t know what career she wants to do, or where the future will take her, I feel like finding that tribe will make some of those things feel a little easier. This is great advice and I hope I do find mine soon. Thank you for understanding and thank you for constantly inspiring me and making me feel like I’m not alone. There’s no greater gift. xoxo

    • Kristen Walker

      Shadz — I love that this came at the perfect time for you! I guess we really are telepathically connected, eh? 😉

      I know it’s tough when you feel like you haven’t found your tribe yet. It’s clear to me, though, that you’re a very caring person with lots of love to share with your people when they show up! And because you’re clearly SO self-aware for your age (I’m also an old soul in a young body, so I totally get it!), I wonder if some of your “tribe members” might end up being a bit older than you? Most of my tribe members are older than me — some are significantly older than me, in fact! — and yet age doesn’t seem to mean much when you find your people. So it may be worth you broadening your scope for who you try connecting with. Just a thought!

      Thank YOU for being such a loyal reader and for sharing how this resonated with you today! It means a lot to me. 🙂

  • Francine

    Such a timely post! I have struggled with feeling lonely and misunderstood my whole life, and at 35 I’m fortunate to have 2 separate friendships with people that I can connect with deeply. Its still not quite a tribe though, particular because I have multiple additional friendships that are not exactly one sided but are quite superficial even if I am able to have fun with them. What do you do with those friendships where the other person thinks that you guys are super close (perhaps because you have known each other so long) and you don’t feel that way at all? I find it so difficult to apply the 9 of 10 rule for these people. I just keep saying no to their requests to hang out and I feel bad after the 4th time.

    Thanks for the post, Kristen!

    • Kristen Walker

      Hey Francine! I’m so happy that you’ve found a couple of really awesome friends who you can relate to so deeply. You really don’t need a ton of tribe members — two is absolutely enough!

      As for those one-sided friendships — the ones where you find yourself slowly losing interest and saying “no” to more and more invitations — it’s really normal for friendships to fade out over time. It’s uncomfortable when you’re the one fading out of the friendship before the other person, but it’s nothing at all to feel guilty about. If you ask me, it’s actually nicer all around to give someone a polite “no thanks” (even to multiple invitations in a row) than to hang out with them out of guilt or obligation.

      The people who are meant to be in your life long-term are going to stick around no matter what, and other people are going to fade away, and it’s all OK!

  • Rachel

    This is such a great article! I really struggle with #1 and am trying to work on it.
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom 🙂

    • Kristen Walker

      Thanks, Rachel! #1 is the hardest of all, but it sets the foundation for everything else. If you’re intentionally focusing on being yourself more of the time, you’re already WELL on your way to connecting with your tribe. 🙂

  • Judy Landis Setting

    Yes! This is spot-on! And, the 9 out of 10 rule is genius… I truly appreciate this wisdom and loved this article… Ox PS – Found you 2 after reading about B school ?

    • Kristen Walker

      Thanks, Judy! I love that you found us through B-School — I imagine it was through Kate Northrup’s group? Glad you liked this blog!

  • Michelle

    This post rings so true for me. My best friend of 12 years inexplicably (at least for me) disappeared from my life, and I’ve been struggling to find people that I can relate to again. My husband tells me to stop looking for her replacement and just find someone that I “gel” with, but she was part of my tribe. Now I have to find a new one and it’s been really hard. This article gave me a lot to think about. Thank you!

    • Kristen Walker

      Wow, that’s SO incredibly difficult to lose touch with your best friend of 12 years … and without even understanding what happened! It’s no wonder you’re feeling hurt and confused, and that’s undoubtedly making it harder to build your new tribe. Whatever her reason for leaving, I guarantee it had a LOT more do with her than it did about you.

      I agree with your husband that it’s not about finding her replacement (because there’s no such thing as replacing old best friends), but it doesn’t mean you can’t eventually have just as strong of a connection with a new friend who you really mesh with. You just might need some time to grieve that old friendship before you’re fully ready to move into the next one.

  • Serene

    This article resonates so well with me! In recent years, I found myself slowly detaching with some of the close friends I used to have because I couldn’t find the deep connection I crave to have in a relationship. They are still great people nonetheless…but I felt no one could actually understand me fully. I think being authentic is very very important to draw the right people into your life although it could be extremely uncomfortable. I have to consciously remind myself to do it because I tend to be a people pleaser in most situations. This article is a great reminder for me to reassess my behaviour in those situations..

    • Kristen Walker

      Glad this was so relevant for you, Serene! It’s definitely uncomfortable to be authentic, despite the urge to people-please, but it’s really worth it for the amazing relationships it opens you up to. I’m glad this post is inspiring you to be even a tiny bit more YOU more often. 🙂

  • Shannon

    This was a great blog post! Sadly, I feel like all of my friends have either moved away, or I have grown apart from. What makes things harder is that a lot of them now have families and kids that they are very involved with and I have chosen to remain childless. So, that makes me feel even more separated from women my age. I would love to find some like minded tribe members but have recently been feeling very discouraged. But your blog post makes a lot of good points. I’ll have to try more of these instead of just feeling like giving up. Thanks for all of your blog posts. They are very relevant to what is going on in my life. 🙂

    • Kristen Walker

      It’s so hard when you find yourself growing apart from old friends, isn’t it? It’s like you both take a different fork in the road, and the gap between you gets bigger and bigger. It doesn’t mean you still can’t stay connected with those friends, but this stage of your life might be asking you to open up to some new tribe members — people who took the same fork in the road as you (which may or may not have anything to do with having kids, but has everything to do with people sharing your deep values). I know for sure that your tribe members are out there, and I hope this post gives you some idea of how to connect with them!

  • Laura Beth

    My husband and I were just talking about this last night! I moved here just over a year ago and we got married in October. Normally, when I move, I give myself about a year before I really feel connected to someone, but this time has been a bit different since some major life events, including getting married, have meant taking a step back in the friendship making. It’s been pretty difficult at times and we reminded ourselves of #5. Patience is not our strong point, especially when we’re looking for our tribe, but I’m praying it’ll be worth the wait. Thanks for these gems! Lately, they’ve been right on point on some things I’ve been thinking about!

    • Kristen Walker

      I love the synchronicity of this! Clearly this is a timely topic for you. It totally makes sense for you to give yourself a bit more time than usual to find and create deep friendships after moving to a new place — like you said, your focus has necessarily been elsewhere lately because of some big life changes!. (Congrats on your marriage, BTW! 🙂 ) The patience part is maybe the MOST annoying of all of these steps, but when you remember that patience is a normal part of this process, it makes you realize that you’re not doing anything wrong. This just takes time, but it WILL happen. And it’ll be worth it!

  • Tom

    I really enjoyed your post and couldn’t agree more. It’s hard to find someone has the same value and be on your side under difference circumstances. especially at work place.
    Someone said “We can work friendly, but we will never be friends” . It’s kind of sad but somewhat true. After all, there is an interest conflict and we are all self center(more or less) and we all have or own problems to solve. In addition,there are dramas and politics in office since everyone wants to climb up the ladder. Even they don’t,people don’t have time to sympathize with others because they already have enough of their own problems.
    But good thing is once you do find your own people, they stay with you, accept who you are, and support what you do.
    Wish everyone has more luck to find your own people..
    Thanks a lot

    • Kristen Walker

      Glad you liked this post, Tom! I do think it’s possible to find a workplace where you share values with most of your coworkers, but you’re right, it’s not the norm. It takes a special kind of workplace to feel like your coworkers are also your tribe members — but those places DO exist!

      I’m glad you made the point that once you find your people, they stick with you for a long time. That’s so true! So even if it takes a little longer than you’d like to find your tribe members, it’s SO worth it because they stay with you and keep supporting you for years and years (if not forever!).

      Thanks for reading, and I, too, wish for more people to find their tribe!

  • Liz

    I’ve only known about Clarity on Fire for 10 minutes and I am 100% obsessed. Thank you both so much for doing what you’re doing. Your message speaks to me on a fundamental level, saying something that sounds a lot like, “You’re not crazy! And you’re not alone.” This approach to finding your tribe reminds me of the konmari method, but for people!

    • Rachel E.

      Welcome, Liz! So glad that you’re here and that you resonate with what we have to say. Neither of us have read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up yet, but it’s on our list! It’s cool that this blog relates to her method. We’re curious to see how once we read that book. 🙂

  • Catarina

    Hi,

    From some time now I’ve constantly bumping with several signs in my life that lead my to think about my social life, my friends, and the tribe I’ve been longing for so long. I’ve had it once, when I was younger, but life changes and we lost that connection. I have other groups, but they are groups where I feel that I’m expected to act according to their “rules”. It’s something that I don’t actively think because it’s not like a project yo can plan and I’ve never faced it as a life goal, so to speak. And if you have a boyfriend/husband there for you with whom you are absolutely yourself, that urge dissipates even more. But the truth is, I need that. However, what I feel is that, even though I have a handful of friends with whom I can really be myself, they’re not a group. I met them in different times and contexts in my life, and they’re actually very different from each other. So you can see my drama. Any lights on that?

    I’m loving your blog, your work and very very happy to have started my day with this text. I’ve got a feeling that this is the beginning of a powerful change in my life.