Finding Your People
I’m a lukewarm spaghetti squash fan, but I’m game for eating anything resembling pasta that is said to be good for me.
You can usually tell which recipes will be homeruns and which ones will fail to land a spot in the “family favorites” rotation. In this case, the combination of spaghetti squash and sauerkraut, a condiment I have never eaten (out of fear), gave me pause.
It wasn’t bad, but, as predicted, it didn’t find its way into our Family Favorites binder.
Have you ever noticed the same is true with people?
We size them up based on outward indicators like clothes, mannerisms, and general demeanor.
Then we delve in a little deeper.
It’s part of the “Finding Your People” phenomenon.
If you are me and have driven into a gas station at night in desperate need of fuel only to find characters with obscenely baggy jeans, shifty eyes and windows tinted darker than a hearse hanging around the gas pumps, these might not be your people.
If you have ever signed up for TV extra work and filled out forms in group unison requiring frequent pauses for questions like: “What if I don’t have an address?” (Answer: Just write down where you last received mail.) These might not be your people.
If you encounter a football coach who invites you to be silent because parental input results in a circular argument but who is curiously comfortable yelling like a lunatic on the field may also not be your people.
But please don’t misunderstand.
I have a huge streak of humanity and find it easy to like almost everyone. I think in almost every scenario above I would find common ground and enjoy conversations with whoever was near me. Most of the time, people truly are delightful and interesting.
But I’m talking about finding your people, your tribe.
My people know let’s have tea means not just tea, but a healthy dose of dessert and hours of conversation about philosophy, yoga insights and my frustrated attempts at parenting an almost teenager.
Am I saying you can’t be friends outside your circle? No, in fact I encourage friendship all over the place!
I’m saying finding that perfect fit can be sacred and delicious. You just know.
I first noticed this phenomenon while completing my Special Education degree at the University of Wyoming. It was at the height of mainstreaming – the idea that students with disabilities could learn in a typical classroom with typical age leveled peers. The expectation that students with and without disabilities would co-mingle and develop meaningful friendships was, in my experience, a hopeful experiment.
Mainstreaming had many positive educational implications for persons with disabilities but on a social level, I noticed something intriguing.
People with disabilities, hanging out with similarly challenged peers, were happier and more playful than when they were surrounded by expectant parents, teachers and typical aged peers. It was amazing to witness. Their level of authenticity in a comfortable environment with people who “got it” spoke volumes.
If you have ever had the experience of being around Special Olympic athletes, you would see what I mean. Though their often friendly nature is extended to everyone, they have the best time with their like-minded, equally challenged peers.
In my classroom one year, I had two students who both happened to have very flat affects. That means they journeyed through their school day with very little to no facial expression as a result of their respective disabilities. They were kind students who tried hard, but social interactions and classroom material at their level were challenging.
School drained them.
But when they came to my classroom for homework help, they often gravitated toward one another. Within minutes of trying to tackle math, these two with limited capacity for outward expressions would dissolved into hysterical laughter.
It wasn’t what they said. They barely spoke.
It wasn’t circumstance. Goodness knows there is nothing funny about math.
It was an implicit understanding. They just “got” each other.
It was so endearing to watch, I rarely stopped the shenanigans.
Those are your people.
They are the people who bring out your authentic character and make you feel like you are wrapped in your favorite warm sweater on a freezing cold day.
They “get” you like nobody else.
They speak your language.
There is no effort.
How do you find your people?
Know yourself. Don’t pretend to love things you don’t or be someone you are not. You will attract the wrong people.
Be very clear about the qualities you want your people to possess. Without clarity you will not notice when your people show up. Construct a detailed, thoughtful list and you’ll notice that list-worthy peeps will start to materialize!
Don’t be afraid to be alone. Even adults have developmental stages where interests and purposes shift. If that means while finding a new “tribe” then let that be okay. Solitude can help you define and adjust your priorities in a new season of life.
I’m not sure that this recipe is one I will feed my little tribe of three again (aka as my family), but I know someone will love this.
You know why?
We all have our people (or our recipes), whether they are in our lives for a moment or for a lifetime.
Trust me, there’s a lid for every pot.
Peace & Light,
The Busy Buddha
Talk Back to the Trio
Who are your people? What do your people like to do?