“Find your tribe.” You’ve likely heard this phrase thrown around in recent years.
For me, it always evokes this picture of several families gathered together, all in a similar phase of life, all best friends. The kids are running around outside, the wives are chatting at the kitchen island, and the husbands are grilling in the backyard. These families act as lifelines to one another, constantly texting, visiting, babysitting, dropping off hot meals and groceries, even vacationing together.
Finding your tribe as an introvert looks very different.
And while it sounds like a fantastic support system and something to be envied in many ways, as an introvert…well…it also sounds like a little too much. I mean, can you give me a two-day warning before you drop by my house?
And can we set a time limit on the visit? Like, two hours max? Or maybe, everyone leave by 8:00?
Yes, I long for that friendship and support. But I also long for time alone in a quiet space to reset and recharge each day.
And I can’t commit to more than one or two social plans a week without feeling drained and overwhelmed. So what’s the secret to finding your tribe as an introvert?
First of all, know thyself.
Friend, you are the one and only subject matter expert on…you. You know how much social time is too much. And you know the exact pace and volume where you feel most comfortable.
The first step to finding your tribe as an introvert is to take a very honest assessment of your needs and limits. For example, I know that my current work/lifeload is absolutely maxed out. I can meet a friend or have family over for a visit twice a week, tops.
I’m also soft-spoken. And if no one in a loud group of people pauses to let me get a word in, I probably won’t say much. I need a tribe that listens…or at least allows me to interrupt once in a while.
Determining your exact limits will help you decide where you need to set boundaries to protect your mental health and well-being.
Secondly, don’t fight for what others say you need; your wants and needs are different.
Remember that picture of families constantly visiting and even vacationing together? Lots of emotionally-charged, very convincing-sounding articles and social media posts will tell you that’s what everyone needs, that it’s essential to your well-being.
But can I tell you something, friend? That’s simply not true.
I mean, it is true for the person who wrote that post. If their friends weren’t knocking on their door several times a week, they’d feel a piece of their life was deeply missing.
But you aren’t them. You have very different needs than they do.
So don’t believe the narrative that you need that exact tribe in your life. Because if you believe it, you’ll spend your lifetime chasing friendships that overwhelm and wear you down.
Third, find those who will respect your differences.
When you’re introverted, it’s frustrating to be part of a tribe that doesn’t let you get a word in edgewise. Or one that pressures you to commit to more time together than you actually have available.
For those reasons, it’s incredibly helpful to seek out one or two close friendships with other introverts, or at least with those living at a similar pace of life. You’ll understand one another’s needs and limits from first-hand experience, and so will be more likely to respect those limits.
Now that’s not to say you shouldn’t include extroverts in your tribe! Extroverts often balance and push us in all the right ways. But I am saying you’ll want to find extroverts willing to respect your differences and boundaries.
(Need a little extra help finding those friends? Be sure to check out How to Make Friends When It’s Not Coming Naturally Anymore.)
Fourth, keep in mind your tribe will look and feel different than extroverted tribes.
In contrast to the traditional “tribe,” you might just see your tribe once a week at church and visit in the lobby after service. Or maybe you’ll invite them over for dinner or meet them at the park once or twice a month.
Introverts often find that while in-person meetups are important, what they value most is calling, texting, or DMing their friends throughout the week. Having that sounding board is invaluable and being able to contact them when it feels and works best for you? That’s priceless!
Your tribe is no less a tribe if you only see each other once a month, or survive primarily on delayed texts and late-night phone calls. The important thing is that you’re there to love and support one another through life’s ups and downs.
And finally, prioritize in-person meetups.
When you’re an introvert, it’s tempting to just never put anything on the books. If you don’t make plans and no one invites you to their plans, you can just hide in your house forever, right? Wrong.
There’s something about meeting in person that no phone call, text, or social media post can replicate. It feeds your soul and is an essential component of being human.
So sure, stay home more often than not, but set a goal to meet once or twice a month. If you don’t write it down, months will pass before you know it.
Finding your tribe as an introvert is a little tricky, but far from impossible. By knowing yourself and your boundaries, and structuring your tribe around those boundaries, you can enjoy close friendship without overwhelm. So get out there, fellow introvert!
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