Back in 2019, the term loneliness epidemic was making headlines as researchers realised how a pervasive feeling of disconnection affected people of all ages.
Since then, the fallout from the pandemic has deepened this feeling of isolation and disconnection for many people. Even if you keep to yourself and aren’t particularly sociable – as is my case – chances are you’ve been left with an unsettling feeling and with the need to find your tribe. But often, this is easier said than done.
Finding your tribe may be easier when we’re teenagers or young adults. But as we grow older, our life paths can diverge, friendships fade, and there comes a point where you realise you may no longer have a lot in common with those you used to call your tribe.
The overuse of technology these days could also make it harder to find your tribe. On one hand, it may seem that connecting with others is easier, since the internet eliminates geographical barriers. One aim of social media is to bring together like-minded people, so in theory such platforms could be a good place to go and find your tribe. But in practice, studies point to the link between social media use and social anxiety, loneliness and isolation. Indeed, social media and the internet has to be used in the right way when it comes to finding your tribe.
It's never too late to find your tribe
Having said that, finding your tribe is definitely possible, even if it takes planning and breaking down some common misconceptions. Let's have a deeper look at how to find your tribe and feel connected to others.
Before you can try to find your tribe, you should know what exactly qualifies as “a tribe”. In anthropology, the term “tribe” is used to define a small group of people who are bound together by strong ties, like speaking a common language, living in the same territory, or sharing political or religious beliefs.
Interestingly, note that there’s no mention of hobbies in this technical description, which suggests that real tribes are held together better by deeply held ideals or motivations. Indeed, the glue that keeps tribe members close to each other is made up of more meaningful things, like values or purpose in life.
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What this means is that the first step towards finding your tribe involves having a clear idea of the things you deeply cherish. In other words, we need to know ourselves before we can find our tribe. This will require some self-work, perhaps even doing some shadow work before connecting with others.
First of all, it’s important to challenge any assumptions we may have about ourselves and our ability to relate to others. For example, if you think people find you boring, your lack of confidence will show and you’ll most likely appear as a boring person – even if you’re not. So, how comfortable are you being yourself is an important question to ask, before you even ask how you can find your tribe.
The second question to ask is: what exactly are you about? What’s your message to the world? We rarely ask these questions because they’re hard to answer and involve a lot of soul searching, but if you’re not 100 per cent sure about what you stand for, it will be difficult to find a tribe that resonates with you.
“The first step towards finding your tribe involves having a clear idea of the things you deeply cherish. In other words, we need to know ourselves before we can find our tribe.”
Next, you should set aside some time to think about the patterns you follow when you meet a new group of people. Do you try to adapt and fit to the majority, or do you try to impose your views? Both choices can interfere with the creation of genuine connections with others.
And lastly, make sure you can give a concise answer to the question “What are you looking for in your tribe?” We often taken for granted that being part of a tribe is all about support and companionship, but these concepts don’t mean the same to everyone. Maybe you’re looking for a tribe that can support you through while you're dealing with a break-up or the loss of a loved one. Or maybe you want to find a group that helps you reach your professional or fitness goals?
We’re all slightly different in how we approach and connect with others. So to make sure you have a range of options, here a list of things you can do to make new friends as an adult and find your tribe.
Earlier on I touched upon the isolating effect that social media can have. But that’s not to say that we shouldn’t spend any time online. Social networks and other websites can still be used to make the first connection with groups that could potentially become your tribe: we just need to stop the endless doom scrolling; instead focusing on the ways to better connect with others.
So, make a list of groups that resonate with you, research them online, and join them offline too. But don’t just lurk in the shadows – make a conscious effort to introduce yourself, explain why you joined, what you’re looking for, and what type of support you offer too.
Try new groups, such as hiking, to meet like-minded souls shutterstock/DisobeyArt
At first, you may be a bit wary of accepting invitations to meet group members, but you’ll never find your tribe if you hide behind a screen or say no by default. Even if someone suggests an activity that wouldn’t be your first choice, be open to all possibilities and don’t rule anything out. You may be positively surprised with the results.
Psychologists know that acts of kindness usually benefit both giver and receiver. So, if you need deep connections and support, instead of searching for it for yourself, consider offering those things to others who may need them too.
Look around and you’ll see there’s no shortage of volunteering opportunities. To find a meaningful area, do some journaling to explore situations that were hard to cope with but you eventually overcame. Have you been abused, bullied, suffered from depression or anxiety? If so, you can use this to help others and find your tribe. These are powerful life experiences you already share, so you’re more likely to be on the same wavelength.
Exercise, poetry, meditation, creative writing, photography: anything that you’ve been wanting to do for a while could be used to meet like-minded people.
There’s always a ring of excitement about learning new things, and this positive mood will probably be shared by others in your class. This type of environment is very conducive to developing new friendships and can be the starting point to finding your tribe.
Some special interest websites have realised the importance of community. For example, here at happiness.com we cover various aspects of wellness and self-improvement, but we’re pivoting our site to be more than just a place to find interesting blog posts. Instead, we want to the site to become a central point of connection where you’ll be able to but to find like-spirited people who share your ideals, way of life and priorities.
“Sign up to a new class. This type of environment is very conducive to developing new friendships and can be the starting point to finding your tribe.”
And, of course, our very own website, happiness.com, is an excellent place to connect with others on a similar wavelength and perhaps find a deeper sense of community. You can create a profile and find new friends based around your interests. Perhaps you're interested in tarot reading, feng shui, philosophy or non-duality, and have struggled to find people that share your passions? Just add your interests to your profile and you can reach out to other members that are into the same thing to start a conversation.
What's more, our happiness forums are an intelligent and curious way to share ideas and engage in discussions with people you may want to connect with on a more profound level. You can discover threads on all areas of well-being and modern life, such as conscious living, mental health, sexuality, etc.
When we spending a lot of time alone, we tend to get settled into our own ways and it can be harder to accept whatever doesn’t fit into our perceived standards. One of the keys to finding your tribe is trying to stay open-minded and not jumping to conclusions about the people you meet.
Indeed, as humans we label people based on stale pre-conceptions and rule them out as “too different” from us. But in reality, we never know the real person until we spend time and share experiences with them. So, don’t be judgmental and give them a chance – it’s only fair.
A common misconception is that when you find your tribe, you’ll magically and instantly feel a strong connection to them and know that it was meant to be!
However, even if there’s a strong affinity, we must remember that relationships are like plants: they need to be cultivated over a period of time to enjoy the beautiful fruits they produce. Along the way, there may be misunderstandings or less-than-perfect experiences.
Connections don’t have to be perfect, but offer meaningful companionship and support. Bear that in mind when reviewing your expectations.
Don’t feel discouraged if you’ve struggled to connect with like-minded people for a while and don’t know how to find your tribe. If you do some soul searching and are realistic, open-minded and proactive, you can be sure that the doors to genuine connections will open, allowing to feel a true sense of belonging in the world. •
Main image: shutterstock/Sabrina Bracher
A social sciences graduate with a keen interest in languages, communication, and personal development strategies. Dee loves exercising, being out in nature, and discovering warm and sunny places where she can escape the winter.
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