Expat life can be exhilarating, exciting, and loads of fun, but it can also be isolating, lonely and depressing. Every posting is different, and every city and country has its pros and cons, but there is one thing that you need in every location, and that is a positive thought process. Sometimes you might be lucky, and you may find your tribe without even trying. But for most of us, we need to go searching for our tribe.
How to find your tribe
I am not giving you the green light to stalk someone; this is never a good idea. I am saying that you need to put yourself out there, especially at first, and attend events, invitations, group activities, etc., on your own. Sign up for events you have never tried, hobbies that you will find like-minded people or classes to push you out of your comfort zone.
Go to coffee mornings, sign up for international clubs, and attend parties even if you have to walk in alone. Remember, we have all been in your position at one time or another. It is daunting, but I have met some fabulous people by doing this. Trust me, people are kinder than you give them credit for, especially in a foreign land.
Give people a go
Okay, so you have rocked up to the coffee morning and looked around! You are desperately looking for someone your age. Or maybe your nationality or even your gender. In your head, you want to turn around and run for the hills. But, I am begging you, don’t let first impressions deter you, give it a go. You do not know if you have anything in common until you get to know the people around you. Sure, they probably aren’t the people you would have gravitated towards previously, but you need to remember this is an entirely new life, and you are here to find your tribe.
Try not to compare your previous posting; this will only set you up for failure. Especially stop comparing your old friendships; remember them as they are, as you aren’t here to replace them entirely. You are here to make new friends, not replicas of your old ones. The biggest issue with comparing is that you start to have expectations, so you reject the people before you get to know them just because they are different from what you are comparing them to.
It is okay to be vulnerable.
Okay, so I am not asking you to pour your heart out to strangers, but I advise you to be honest! If people know that you are having a tough time, that you are lonely or that you are new. Then they are more willing to open up to you and let you be part of their world. They are also more willing to help! You never know unless you ask.
Make the first move
Sometimes instead of waiting for people to approach you, you need to make the first move. For example, invite someone out for coffee or to a class you are about to start. Whether they have been around the location for many years or just arrived, there are no rules here. You can make the first move. Or, better still, connect with people through Expat Buddy!
When old friends have left
Finding your tribe in a location that has been your home for some time is hard. But, unfortunately, it is the expat life that your little expat family has decided to move on, so now, what do you do? Well, it is time to start over (as hard as that may seem) and put yourself out there once again. Start going back to coffee mornings, volunteering your services and starting a new hobby altogether.
The most significant rule of thumb here is to make an effort! You will never find your tribe sitting at home by yourself. Even if you feel uncomfortable, talking to people and keeping busy makes life feel better. Especially when you are living in a country and you are yet to learn the local language, this is imperative. But, on the other hand, you will become stir-crazy ( I learnt the hard way).
So go out, explore, push boundaries and enjoy your surroundings. Discover new hobbies or practice old ones. Your tribe is out there; you just haven’t found them yet.
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4 thoughts on “HOW TO FIND YOUR TRIBE”
Really good blog and absolutely true. Thank you for writing it.
Excellent you hit the nail on the head and as a veteran of a dozen or so moves I know! That said, 40 years ago in Portugal I did stalk a stranger with good results! Desperate for English conversation – I followed a couple of ladies with a babies in prams because I heard them speaking English (the pram, in those times- meant they weren’t tourists). They held their handbags tightly! I approached them and introduced myself and we went into become great friends.. Ten years later in Holland I was told an English couple lived near me, so once again being friendless, I knocked on their door and pretty much said “do you want to be my friend!” We are God mothers to each other’s children. I echo the need to get out of your comfort zone and audition, audition, audition! No matter where you land you can find a tribe – you just have to work at it.
Oh I love this! Everything about this screams “I couldn’t have said it better myself”.