Have you noticed how frequently the word “tribe” pops up in relation to women these days? It is a pretty cool buzz word that describes what a lot of us are looking for and possibly longing for at this stage of life. I think the “tribe” analogy applies to anyone, male or female, who might be struggling to find genuine connections after years of affiliations with co-workers. Like me, your core group, and the people you depend on the most, are likely your spouse, family and a few close friends. But, I believe it is necessary to explore beyond that group to find true contentment and fulfillment at this stage of life. So, how do you go about finding your new tribe during retirement?
Identify Your Needs
After the first few months of retirement our interactions with friends tend to change, due to declining common interests, or proximity, especially if we have relocated to a new environment. It is not uncommon for relationships to fall away when you no longer have work as the common denominator. Starting over is not easy, and it helps if you know what your needs are before jumping into a variety of new situations with a “let’s do this retirement thing” attitude. While this list is not comprehensive, it does include much of what motivates us to seek out connections.
- Emotional support
- Structure, purpose
- Intellectual stimulation
- Learn new skills
- Reduce feelings of isolation
- All of the above
Seek Opportunities Which Support Your Needs
For example, if you need intellectual stimulation, you will likely look for a group that discusses books, art, politics or current events. If you want to lose weight, train for a marathon, learn a new skill or kick a bad habit you might need accountability partners to help you stay focused. Understanding your need for structure and purpose might lead to volunteer work like tutoring and mentoring. Needs for validation may be satisfied by taking on leadership roles at church, in civic organizations and in volunteer groups. Feelings of isolation might lead you to join a casual conversation group that meets at the local coffee shop. There is a match out there for every possible void that you might need to fill.
Where to Look
Libraries, churches, and community centers offer a variety of opportunities, but don’t let your search end there. Internet searches using very specific parameters such as “quilting groups in Oxnard, California” or “paddle board clubs in Jensen Beach, Florida” are simple examples of how to locate your people. My town has a website that matches up volunteers to organizations and sends suggestions (based on a questionnaire that I filled out) to my email in box on a regular basis. You might have a similar network where you live.
One of my favorite “go to” websites for making connections is MeetUp. Depending on where you live, there may be more or less opportunities, but it is worth checking in to. During a recent search, I found a new start-up photography club in my area that I am going to check out next week. While I was perusing the site, I also noticed a writers group, and a current events discussion group that I found interesting.
My tribes includes women and a few guys, from my book club, women’s club, tennis group, Mahjong group, photography group and library volunteer group, along with a couple of long-time friends who have withstood the test of time and distance. They are a varied and interesting bunch of people that I might never have met had I not sought out connections through common interests. All of these activities and my associations with the people in them contribute greatly to the structure and purpose of my day to day life. Some friendships and bonds are more meaningful than others, but I appreciate them all for what they bring to my life, and I believe they feel the same about me.
There are no rules to finding your people, and the goal is to simply expand beyond the “what now” phase of being newly retired. Experience growth, share your knowledge, or simply chat over coffee. It’s all good.