Finding Your People

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?

women connecting (2)

From Google Images

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.

  1. Validation
  2. Emotional support
  3. Structure, purpose
  4. Accountability
  5. Intellectual stimulation
  6. Learn new skills
  7. Reduce feelings of isolation
  8. 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 Tribe

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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28 Responses to Finding Your People

  1. I have been thinking about this very topic lately. Since I’ve lived here pretty much my whole life, I have a lot of friends in the area. I do feel, though, the need to find more of my tribe and I appreciate your suggestions of ways to do so. Blogging has been a great way to connect, but there is nothing like face-to-face.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Suzanne says:

      Janis, I personally think that common interests and core values are key elements in developing your ‘tribe’. Many of us gravitate to people out of convenience, which is fine, but as the saying goes, ‘variety is the spice of life.’ On an intellectual level, blogging friends are gratifying, but as you say,’there is nothing like face-to-face connections. Be well and thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Suzanne, I have to admit the word ‘tribe’ doesn’t sit well with me for some reason. Perhaps like many words it has become a ‘buzz’ word which can lose it’s impact. I agree with the principle though and your point about identifying your needs is a good list to follow. My ‘tribe’ at the moment consists of my Saturday Sisters, who I run with twice a week and my blogging community. Life is unsettled at the moment so I can’t really form new friendships or find a new ‘tribe’ but once I settle I will as there is really nothing like face-to-face contact. Enjoy your weekend! x
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

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  3. Suzanne says:

    Sue, I tend to agree that the word ‘tribe’ is a bit off-putting. It sounds a bit like a suggestion to surround yourself with the ‘same’ type of people. My focus for the post, and for my own life, which I hope comes across, is to create a comfortable space for myself which includes a variety of individuals,from all walks of life, each contributing in their own way. I have found a convenient ‘tribe’ through blogging, but completely agree that there is nothing like face to face, real world contact.

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  4. leannelc says:

    Suzanne I seem to find it really hard to add to my IRL tribe – these days, meeting and making friends with women who I have anything in common with just doesn’t seem to happen for some reason. Fortunately I have several friends who I’ve known for years, and I have an amazing community of fellow bloggers who I am so grateful for. It’s almost like my online tribe has filled the void for me – but I know I’ll have to start being more proactive locally too or I run the risk of becoming a little bit isolated as the years progress.

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    • Suzanne says:

      Leanne, I think that isolation is already a factor for many women. At 63, I am still physically active and have a decent FTF support group, but I can already see how that might change or even dissolve with age. I am so grateful for this beautiful online community that I have stumbled into, but as you say, being ‘proactive locally’ is also good idea.

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  5. Joanne Sisco says:

    I’m several years into the retirement ‘journey’ and I can relate to all that you’ve said here.

    After one particularly long and unhappy winter, another blogger turned me to Meetup and I was blown away by the opportunities available in my own area!! I discovered that I was limited only by my imagination, but found a great senior’s outdoor club that matched my needs and energy level. I now sit on their Board. These people are truly redefining what it means to be a senior today!

    I discovered that you have to be prepared to kiss a few frogs along the way. A group or activity may appear to be a good fit until you test drive it a few times. Things that I thought I wanted from my retirement turned out to fizzle. I consider them learnings rather than failures – and those learnings are just as valuable.

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    • Suzanne says:

      ‘Kiss a few frogs’ indeed. Meetup offers a smorgasbord of activities in my area, with new clubs coming online each week. I look for start-ups that might be offering something fresh, or clubs that are well established, but if I can’t relate to the people involved, I’m one and done. Life is to short to dilly-dally – make a decision and get at it.
      .

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Tracey says:

    Helpful blog. Wished I’d read it a year ago when I was struggling a bit with early retirement. Guess its part of the process.

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    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Tracey, I’ve been at this retirement thing for a while now, so I figure it is only right to pass along what works for me so others don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. These are wonderful words of wisdom, Suzanne! You’re so right about relationships changing after retirement. Even my part-time job teaching doesn’t really get me many friends, although I meet a couple of fellow lecturers for breakfast now and then. We are far away from most of our family, too, so I end up hanging out on summer weekends (at the delta) with friends that I don’t see much the rest of the year. I guess they are seasonal friendships. but at least it’s something!

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    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Terri, seasonal friendships are good. I just spoke with a friend last night who is a snowbird; 6 months in CT, 6 months in FL, but we still manage to revive our relationship each fall when she returns. Interactions do not necessarily have to be accompanied by a deep level of commitment to be positive and meaningful. Meeting with colleagues for an occasional lunch probably check a lot of the boxes above for you. You never know when small beginnings lead to lasting friendships.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, Suzanne – Having people in our lives whom we can truly connect with, makes such a difference — especially in retirement. You’ve made excellent points here!

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    • Suzanne says:

      Thank you Donna, this is a lesson you have quite naturally already applied to your retirement life and I enjoy reading about your retirement escapades with friends, family and fellow bloggers. You have taken ‘community’ to a whole new level. Thanks for stopping by today.

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  9. This is something I work on because not only did I retire but I made a cross country move. So, I make sure to challenge myself and look for new opportunities. Good post, and I don’t care what buzz words you use because the message was a good reminder. 🙂

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  10. patwdoyle11 says:

    Suzanne, I really appreciate how you linked some what to look for to the needs you have! I’m going to think on this some more. I also agree that you need to try things on and be open. After being retired for 4 yeas, I’m still working on creating a bigger IRL tribe. I’ve used MeetUp before and need to think about using it again. Thanks for the nudge!!

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    • Suzanne says:

      Pat, my thinking is that unless needs/interests and actions are linked, then it is just busy work that will soon fall away. Having said that, I am also a believer that getting out of your comfort zone is necessary at times to explore new options. You never know what might be the thing that lights you up.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. kemkem says:

    I definitely agree that you need to get out of your comfort zone to meet people. I tend to be a loner as is my husband but l also know that it’s not a healthy way to live. We both now make an effort to join group activities etc because we want to expand our horizons. Amazingly, we have become real life friends with several bloggers, so yeah for the internet too. Tribe, friends.. whatever you call it, just do it! 😁. I have become more selective for sure. Life is too short.

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    • Suzanne says:

      Kem, I haven’t stretched too far out of my comfort zone since I tend to find groups with a common interest, but once I’m there, I am selective about the personal connections I make.Definitely an age thing. I think it’s cool that you have met other bloggers FTF, and become friends.You just never know where your Tribe will come from! Take care.

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  12. judithekav says:

    Suzanne what an encouraging and interesting read. I am just discovering blogging and am simply reading at this point. Recently retired I found myself resonating with many of your feelings around needs and the people we will meet as we “service” them. I like the concept of “tribe” but like other people commenting know I am fairly selective about who these people are. Still I hold the concept close to my heart. Thanks for sharing your thoughts…I feel less isolated already.

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  13. Suzanne says:

    Hi Judith, welcome to Picture Retirement. I am glad that I could offer some encouragement to you as you begin this amazing chapter of life. If you take a look at the side-bar on my blog you will see several blogs that are exploring topics that may interest you right now.

    Regarding your comment, at this age, I think we are all a lot more ‘selective’ about the people we associate with; it’s more about quality over quantity. It is also a time to embrace life and continue to grow as individuals and we need a support group (of some kind) to help us do that. How you choose and who you choose depends entirely on what you hope to accomplish. Continue to explore your interests and reach out often. You will find what works for you.

    Thanks for stopping by.

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