If there is something strange in the neighborhood and if something just doesn’t look good chances are you would want to call Ghostbusters. Unfortunately, we cannot call Ghostbusters for everything that goes wrong in our lives and even if we could we tend to deal with people and situations out of our control more often than ghosts. When life does go wrong and even when it goes right who do you call? Who are the people you lean on? Celebrate with? The people you surround yourself with have a huge influence on your life. I want to dive into why your community or your tribe is so important and how they can help you maximize your life. Let’s be honest we are all just trying to live our best life and our peeps contribute to that more than you think.
Finding Your Tribe
The people you thought about when I asked you those questions; those people are your community. The people you call when you get a flat tire, when you go through a bad break up, the ones you get drinks with on the weekends and exchanged work stories.
I had a really tough day this past week. One of my biggest faults is that I try to be a superwoman and take care of EVERYONE. Often foregoing my own self-care so that other people’s needs are met. That same day someone in my tribe saw that I was struggling. Not only did she talk to me about a few of the things I was struggling with but she wrote an encouraging quote on my whiteboard to remind me that I cannot control everything. This is what someone in your tribe should do. They should see you, when you reach out to hear you, and encourage you. Think about people in your life that do these things and add them to the mental list of who your community is.
On the off chance, someone reading this feels really alone in their life and like they have no one to turn to keep reading. We will talk about how to build a positive and empowering community.
Refine The Tribe
Have you ever heard the saying “Birds of a feather flock together”? My mother instilled this in me and told me that I would become the people I hang out with. As a kid, I could not really understand how that was possible. Probably because I had this idea that I would morph into one of my friends and I did not see how that was possible. As an adult, I totally get where she was coming from because I have seen it in myself. When I was living in Colorado I was the most active I have ever been in my life because EVERYONE in Colorado likes to be active and outside. When I moved back to Texas my active life slowed down because Texas is basically a furnace 11 months out of the year and no one wants to do anything outdoors. Even something as small as my activity level changed based on who I was around. Can you imagine how your attitude or motivation would change if you shifted people in your tribe?
Our logistics manager has an office right across my desk and I think she is one of the greatest women I have ever met. It did not take me long to decide that I want to be her when I grow up. I want to be as kind as she is, make amazing food for her family like she does, and have wit like her. Because I want those traits I spend time with her when I can. I ask her about recipes and listen to her as she handles conflict because I want to be like her. When you are looking at your community look at the qualities each person posses and see which qualities you want for yourself. If you see some qualities that you don’t like maybe you should take a step back and see how much time you spend with that person and limit the influence those qualities have on your life.
Utilize Your Tribe
Once you have your tribe you need to be able to know how to use it. This may sound silly but I know a lot of people who have amazing people in their life that they never reach out to. I am guilty of not reaching out to people when I KNOW that I should. The idea of being a burden to someone makes me really want to close up and not let people know that things are hard. I am not the only one who does this. This past month I have met more people who felt like they did not want to be a burden while going through some heavy stuff and did not reach out. Part of me believes that we are like this because technology is so advanced that it makes it easier for us to keep things on a superficial level. Advances in technology can be used to help strengthen your community as well.
In 7 Strategies To Improve Your Life and Reduce Stress I talked about how communication has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. We went from dial-up to be able to video chat a person in another country (FOR FREE) using apps. I also addressed how this has negatively impacted our generation and what we can do to be more plugged into our real lives. Click the link to read more.
Opening up the lines of communication has also changed our generation’s view of community. Your parents and your grandparents may have had friends that lived in other states and countries but when they were our age they were not able to talk to them as often as we can today. One of my very best friends lives in another state and is often going to other countries. The distance, however, does not impact our friendship as much as it would if we didn’t have the technology we have today. I can video chat and text her whenever I want. We use an app where we can send video messages to each other and we have literally sent each other videos crying. She is an integral part of my community and for that technology gets a win. Use the tools that are right in front of you to reach out to your tribe. I know this is scary and you don’t want to feel like you are bothering them but that is what they are there for. Even if you do not want your friends to know how you are struggling. Find people who are going through what you are going through. Facebook has a lot of groups and I am sure there is an online community that you can get involved in.
Be Who You Need
If you had a hard time defining who your community was and even if you didn’t you can start by being the person you need. A community thrives when everyone gives and takes. This means you need to be the person that your community needs. That can feel like a very daunting role so to simplify it be who you need to be. If you need encouragement be the one to encourage others. If you need a listening ear take time to listen to what others have to say. Being the person and striving after the qualities you want and need will draw people to you. Because even if you struggle pulling people in there will be people who pull you into theirs. Life is hard and glorious all at once. We were not meant to do life alone.
As always, when you cannot find the sunshine be the sunshine.
Sincerely, The Fearless Millenial.